‘But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”’ – Luke 2.10From Toni Clark:
Have you ever been in a scary situation? I’m not a great flyer. A few years ago, I was flying to Belfast, the flight was fine until we started to descend and then we were bumping up and down and side to side. Eventually we crossed the perimeter fence of the airport and I was thinking we’d made it…… when whoooosh we were off again! I caught the steward’s eye and I clearly looked terrified but he just calmly said to me – “Don’t be frightened, if I look like this, then there’s nothing to worry about.” It didn’t work, I wasn’t happy until I was firmly back on solid ground!
Luke’s gospel gives us the familiar nativity story in just a few verses. Luke then turns our attention to a place a little outside the city, a dark hillside where shepherds lived and kept watch over their flocks.
What happens next we can barely imagine – an angel of the Lord appeared, just one but it must have been an extraordinary sight for the shepherds were terrified. But the first thing the Angel says is, “Do not be afraid”, easier said than done I think! Then the angel goes on, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people”. The shepherds were the first to hear that Jesus had been born, the angel tells them that they will find him lying in a manger in Bethlehem.
I think that what happens next is really exciting. The shepherds’ immediate reaction is fantastic. Although they were terrified, they didn’t just talk about what they did or didn’t see. They didn’t just ignore it, but they said to one another, we’ve got to go and see this baby. They recognise that the message is from God. The fear of seeing the angels is forgotten, they want to go and find Christ the Lord. And find him they do, just as the angeI said, lying in a manger.
I think we can learn a lot from the shepherds’ reaction to that night’s events. Their first reaction was one of fear when the angel appeared. It must have been a truly terrifying experience and yet when the angels disappear, their immediate reaction is to drop everything and to go and see, to go and meet, Jesus.
Do we do that? When we’re feeling afraid or worried, do we drop everything to meet with God? Do we rush to find Him, to seek his comfort and peace? As we approach this Christmas, can I encourage you, that if you are feeling afraid, to remember the shepherds on that hillside that first Christmas, to remember that their response was to go and find Jesus. I pray that, at this Christmas time, we can put aside any fears we have, that we go and seek God, His comfort and peace, and that like the shepherds, when we do so, our response would be to praise and glorify God.