“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”
Can you imagine being one of the shepherds in this story? You’re sitting in a field at night with a few other shepherds around. You’re watching over your sheep as they sleep nearby. You might be ready to doze off yourself. Then suddenly an angel appears, and the glory of the Lord is everywhere! Fear would be just one of the emotions you felt at that moment.
It’s probably a good thing that the angel began the message to the shepherds with “Do not be afraid.” The shepherds’ initial reaction might otherwise have been to either run away or take a swing at the angel with their staffs or clubs. Fear can be so paralyzing that it can make anything that comes after it hard to remember. In a state of terrifying fear the shepherds might not even have heard the great news that the angel had come to bring.
Fear can often cause us to stop hearing the good news as well. When we get so wrapped up in the things in our lives that make us afraid, we often miss many other messages and opportunities.
If the shepherds had remained in their state of terror, they wouldn’t have heard the message about the birth of Jesus. They wouldn’t have known to go and find him. And they wouldn’t have heard about the peace he would bring.
What fears in your life might be stopping you from hearing the good news today?
God in the highest heaven, take away the fear in our lives that keeps us from hearing the good news of great joy that you are bringing us today. Amen.