Friday, December 09, 2005

Advent 4 - Fear Not

Advent 4

Exodus 1:8-11
A new king came to power in Egypt who didn't know Joseph. He spoke to his people in alarm, "There are way too many of these Israelites for us to handle. We've got to do something: Let's devise a plan to contain them, lest if there's a war they should join our enemies, or just walk off and leave us."

The Pharaoh fears the Israelites. He fears they will grow too big. He fears they may leave and upset the economic order. He fears they may take away food or supplies from the Egyptians. He fears they might join with another land and make war against Egypt.

His fear becomes force.

Soon the Israelites face the crushing reality of his fear as he oppresses them, enslaves them and eventually slaughters many of their children.

Fear is deadly.

Our world reels with fear. We fear there won’t be enough. We fear we’ll be alone. We fear our lives won’t count for anything. We fear someone else will get the raise or the promotion or the recognition. We fear we’ll go unnoticed. We fear our freedom to do good and evil. We fear our capacity to hurt others. We fear making wrong choices that result in a disappointment. We fear failing. We fear the end will come too soon.

We fear dying.

Ultimately, we all die. This fear of death, whether conscious or unconscious, animates many actions and decisions. Will we die and be forgotten?

Fear drives people to steal, kill, and destroy. Fear blinds us to the abundance and wonder and glory that surround us. Fear settles over our hearts like a smothering black cloud.

Oh that an angel might suddenly appear into the middle of our heart of darkness and proclaim, “Fear Not.”

On that awful ancient night, the shepherds beheld the terror that ends all terror: the glory of the Lord. And they heard good tidings of great joy for all people.

Heaven’s hope comes to earth in a tale that is strange to even fairy ears. The Creator of heaven and earth, the all powerful, the King of the Jews, the Savior, appears. He’s not in shining robes of glory surrounded by untold armies of heaven. Rather, he comes as a helpless baby among the animals, the outcasts and the forgotten.

He embraces our weakness and reveals His strength. Into the heartache, into brokenness, into the darkness of our fear-filled world comes a babe who will end the power of fear.

In his birth, in his life, in his death and ultimately in his resurrection, he will restore trust to the earth. For only those who trust can live outside of fear.

May this Advent be a time for rediscovering simple trust in the Lord. May we remember the future, looking forward to the end of all things, when the faithfulness and lovingkindness of our Creator is fully unveiled. As we behold the goodness and greatness of our Lord, may we trust in the ancient words that still echo through our being: “Fear Not!”

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