Sunday, December 24, 2017

Don't be afraid: to you a Savior is born this day!

Luke 2:8-11 

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”

Reflect: What is the good news for you this Christmas? How does the love of God expressed in Christ help drive out your fear?

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Don't be afraid to do what's right

Matthew 1:18-20 

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”

Reflect: When have you needed to do something that looked insane by the standards of the world, but that was right by the standards of God? What emotions might you feel if one day you were called to do such a thing, as Joseph was?

Friday, December 22, 2017

If your life gets turned upside down, do not be afraid

Luke 1:26-31 

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.”

Reflect: What is the most life-changing news you have ever received? What kind of fears did you experience in that moment? How might God have been speaking to you in that moment, "Do not be afraid"?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

When God actually shows up in worship, do not be afraid

Luke 1:11-16 (An angel appears to Zechariah while he is in the Temple)

There appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. Even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit."

Reflect: Do you actually expect to encounter God when you come to church? What might happen if you did?

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

When Jesus is not where--or what--you expected, do not be afraid

Matthew 28:5-10 (Easter)

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’…So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.  Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Reflect: The women are told twice not to be afraid, yet they left the tomb with fear (and great joy). How might the first Easter have been frightening? How do we need to hear this message today?

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

If you need a hero, do not be afraid

John 12:12-15 (Palm Sunday)

The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written: “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

Reflect on what it would feel like to see a king riding into town on a giant war horse, surrounded by warriors. Then reflect on what it would feel like to see a king riding into town on a young donkey, surrounded only by people waving palm branches. Which image inspires fear? Which inspires hope?

Monday, December 18, 2017

If money causes you stress, do not be afraid

Luke 12:32-34 (Jesus teaching about money and possessions)

Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Reflect: Read a couple of Jesus' other teachings about money and possessions in Mark 10:17-27 and Luke 12:13-21. How do you see fear at work in these stories?