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. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Do not be afraid. What a wonderful and timely message for our world. As people have done throughout history, we tend to focus on today’s bad news or fret over the latest reason for fear. We imagine that our present struggles must be worse than what people before us had to endure. We look up, like the shepherds did, and are terrified by what we see. The truth is, there are many things in this world to be afraid of. There are wars, pandemics, famines, natural disasters, crime and domestic violence. We do bad things, and we have bad things done to us. All these bad things we see and hear send shivers down our spines and fill our hearts with fear, but God sends us a message of peace: Do not be afraid.
Of course, what the shepherds saw in the sky that night was not intended to cause fear. They didn’t understand at first, but they were witnesses to an extraordinary manifestation of God’s glory. First there appeared one angel, perhaps Gabriel who had visited both Mary and Zechariah, and then a large choir of angels appeared in the sky. The great company of angels is called a “host,” which can also be translated as an army. This heavenly army did not come to wage war but to offer peace. Angels are God’s messengers, whose appearance may frighten people even as they deliver messages of hope, peace and grace. The shepherds were stunned by the glorious sight they saw and amazed by the comforting words they heard.
We need to hear the angel’s message anew: Do not be afraid. Yes, this world is filled with trouble and hardship. Yes, we will face more challenges tomorrow and may have to endure scary moments in the days ahead. Jesus even told us, “In this world you will have trouble,” and we know He was telling the truth. Then He added words of hope and peace: “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). So, do not be afraid. You are not alone. God watches over you. His heavenly army stands ready to protect you. He sent Jesus to give us peace, and that peace overcomes the fear.
Glorious Lord, take away my fear and give me Your peace. Teach me to trust in You, so I can overcome the world’s trouble through faith in Jesus. I love You and rejoice in the good news of my Savior. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian