By: Dr. Ann MacCormac

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. But the angel said to them “Be not afraid …”     Luke 2:10

I read somewhere that the phrase “Do not be afraid” occurs around over 100 times in the Bible. I suppose that means I should sit up and take notice, but I am a worrier and there seems to be a lot of fearfulness going around, both individually and collectively.

For instance, when I was given a surgery class to teach this fall, I kept myself up for hours worrying about what I should teach, and how I should teach it, fearing that I would omit some important topic.  After losing sleep for several consecutive nights, I finally realized that I could ask for help!!  I did not have to figure it out alone.

Aside from my job anxiety, there are so many things to worry about: the state of world, politics and the economy, healthcare, security, environmental issues.  This is why the message from God is so important: “Do not be afraid.”  We are not alone.  The Christmas story reminds us that the opposite of fear is love.

There is an African Christmas parable about a boy who wanted to discover what language God speaks.  He tried to ask his local church leaders, who told him that God speaks their local dialect.  However, he had doubts and embarked on a journey around the world asking “What language does God speak?”  In each country he was told that God speaks that language of that people. Yet again and again he had doubts. He knew that he would recognize the right answer because he would feel great joy.

Exhausted by his long travels and the unsatisfactory answers, the boy entered the town of Bethlehem. The local hotels were filled. He looked everywhere for a place to stay. Nothing was available. In the early morning hours, he came to a cave where cows and sheep were sheltered. He was surprised to see a young woman with her newborn baby.

This young mother said to the traveling youth, “Welcome, you are very welcome.” Astonished to hear this greeting, the young African listened in awe as the woman called Mary continued: “For a very long time you have traveled around the world to find out what language God speaks. Your long journey is over. God speaks the language of love. God loved the world so much that he gave his only son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

We pray that you have a Christmas filled with love and joy.

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