Now’s the season when “Fear not!” claims its place in the lexicon of faith-based attitudes and actions. The sources of this proclamation include a variety of angelic greetings—to Zechariah, Mary, Joseph and the shepherds—as well as Jesus’ assurances throughout his ministry.
Well-reasoned sermons and Christmas greetings notwithstanding, part of me wants to say, “Wait a minute…!” I know the negative neurobiological and spiritual elements of fear, but I’m also aware that reasons for fear are all over the news map. Still reverberating in soulless post-election harrumphings, fear still bangs around in society and in my skull, too. Fear still works as a motivator—for political. economic and relational decisions. And fear-mongers are still scaring the bejabbers out of whomever will pay attention to them. Fear remains a cultural currency that holds onto its value.
I’m definitely in favor of damping down needless fear, but I can’t claim to be fearless—I’m sometimes too-receptive to fearsome stimuli that accost my elderly spirit. (A recent computer hacking incident adds alarming personal experience to that fact.)
Still, there are those angels, and their assuring invitation seems warranted. When the invitees got over their justifiable fright, they paid attention to the rest of the angels’ messages—good news, all of it—and their lives were enriched immeasurably.
As a necessary spiritual discipline this Christmas, I’m going to keep in mind that fear isn’t the most powerful, the longest-lasting or the pre-eminent attitude I can carry forward into the coming months. I’m not going to be paralyzed by this too-easily invoked emotion. Instead, I’m going to remember what came to pass after folks moved past their fears. When they believed those better angels!
And I will rejoice that God’s salvation in Jesus can transcend my fears!
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