Each year I like to reflect on the Christmas story and what it means for me this year. The past few months have been really difficult for me. I’ve been travelling an awful lot and dealing with stressful work situations in an organisation whose future is uncertain. Overwhelmingly, when I’ve been hearing the Christmas story this year, it is the message of the PEACE of God which arrived with the Christ child which is speaking to me.
Our world is in upheaval. We’re facing a financial mess, an ecological mess and political stalemate.
I always take comfort from the fact that the world into which Jesus was born was no different. He was born in a town far away from where his family lived because of an edict of the occupying forces and quickly forced into being a refugee in Egypt. Yet the message, the truly Good News, proclaimed by Gabriel on that hillside to a group of shepherds (men of the lowest social standing, not even allowed to give evidence in a court of law) was ‘PEACE’:
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10
I love that Gabriel says ‘do not be afraid’. Although he partly said it because it must have been a terrifying experience seeing the angel of the LORD, I think it’s also, since that phrase is used so often by angels in the Bible, that the last thing God wants is for us to be paralysed by fear.
My current work situation is dodgy. One of my natural reactions is fear – where will I go? what will I do? And God speaks directly to me, saying ‘Do not be afraid’.
I was listening to the Pray As You Go podcast this week and one of the verses which has stayed with me was this:
“They will eat and lie down
and no one will make them afraid.” Zeph 3:13
This is Zephaniah prophesying about the remnant of Israel. Might you take comfort from this verse this year too.