Volume 34, No. 21
“Be Not Afraid”
“The words you speak become the house you live in.” – Hafiz
It feels as if fearful words have been overwhelming our thoughts and spirits recently. We are surrounded by politicians, preachers, pundits, and prognosticators who want us to act, vote, and live in a constant state of fear. Fear is a motivator, especially for Western Christianity. It’s not about the joys of oneness with God but of trying to stay out of hell. With a pandemic, an election, economic turmoil, and global unrest, it is easy to see why fear is the “go to” mechanism to gain power and persuade a population. But fear isn’t the story of Jesus. Because, you see, Jesus was the perfect love that cast out fear.
Our Advent and Christmas theme for 2020 is “Be Not Afraid.” The Christmas story is filled with messengers bringing people the words, “Be not afraid.” Zechariah needed to be reminded to not be afraid of having a baby in his old age, a baby that would become the prophet, John the baptizer. Mary, the mother of Jesus, received the comforting message to not be afraid when she wondered who this baby was growing inside her. Joseph was told to not be afraid when he was confused about Mary’s pregnancy and wanted to divorce her. And the shepherds, watching their flocks by the light of a heavenly star, received the words, “Do not fear,” when brought the good news by the host of angels.
“Be not afraid.” These are lifegiving words. I wonder if words of inclusion, generous welcome, and love should be what we speak to one another and to ourselves in these increasingly fearful days? Wouldn’t it be meaningful if we saw one another as beloved rather than something to be feared? What if we become like the messengers of old and encounter the world though the words, “Be not afraid!” These are words that speak life and love into our world and become the house in which we might seek to live.
So, let’s choose our words carefully in the coming days, especially as we enter the Advent season. Consider the words we use to describe others. Consider the words we use when talking about ourselves. Because who we are and how we treat others, as well as ourselves, will leave an indelible mark on our social media pages, on our society at large, and on our own hearts. What kind of house do we want to live in?