And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. (Luke 2:8-9, NIV)
When our children were very small, we began a tradition of having a family Christmas Eve service at home following worship at our church. Every year we share scripture, poems, prayers, and songs, including a tune that we wrote ourselves called “The Brightest Light.” It’s sung from the perspective of those who were frightened by the light in the sky and the appearance of an angel all those years ago.
Many of us would have turned our backs to those terrifying events, but the shepherds overcame their fear and found something miraculous on the other side. “Good news” seems like too weak of a phrase to describe it. They found nothing less than redemption from their sins and the promise of eternal life, given through grace from the God who loves them.
Our families also face fears. Those fears might include conflict, poverty, threats to our safety, or a health crisis, as is the case for our family this year. Although we don’t often think of fear as a theme of the Christmas story, the ability to cope with fear is part of the promise of Christ’s coming. If we face the things that frighten us and walk toward them in faith, we know what we will find on the other side: God’s grace. Do you know what that grace feels like? It feels like a family (however you define it) gathered together on Christmas Eve, cherishing one another and praising God.
Loving God, give us the faith to walk through fear. Thank you for the promise that we are your beloved children, now and forever.