This Sunday we will hear the story of Mary and her meeting with the Angel, where Mary is told, upon learning of her pregnancy, by the Angel, “Do not be afraid.” Needless to say, Mary is perplexed.
In Luke 1:29, the Greek word, often translated as perplexed, can also be translated as disturbed, agitated, or deeply troubled. I know that there are many in our community who live these feeling daily. Family situations, employment challenges, family dynamics, health worries, and other difficult situation have us at the end of our ropes – and into such situations echo the words “Do not be afraid.”
Do not be afraid, is a refrain that is repeated throughout the Christmas story – it is in fact, one of the most common phrases in all the bible.
To utter the words, “Don’t be afraid” is not to say “Cheer up. Be happy – it’ll be ok!”. Much to the contrary. In this context, to utter “Do not be afraid,” with faith and conviction, is to offer an invitation to sit together in the face of that which brings fear or anxiety.
Do not be afraid, is to remember together, that from generation to generation, God shows up in the midst of our fear and uncertainty and confusion. Do not be afraid, is to remember, together, that from generation to generation, faithful people have said, “yes,” despite apprehension.
In the story we will hear on Sunday, after telling Mary, “Do not be afraid”, the angel points to Mary’s cousin Elizabeth as an example to prove that “nothing is impossible for God” (v.37). At this point, Mary replies, “Let it be.” And I find myself asking, What gave Mary courage to let it be? What convinces Mary, what convinces us to trust? Hmmmn. Hopefully I have some ‘answers’ on Sunday!
Today I in the office with meetings and Zoom calls and pastoral visits – and if all goes according to plan, at 3PM I will be taking part in an Advent Study, The Christmas Stories with John Dominic Crossan and Tripp Fuller at 3PM.
Tomorrow at 10:30AM the Lectionary Study Group will meet via Zoom after which I have three pastoral visits scheduled and another meeting at 6:30PM.
On Wednesday I will be present at our first Creative Community for Christmas Crafting. Come at 10AM or 6PM and join with others in creating a Christmas craft you can take home. The morning session will end with lunch and the evening session will begin with supper. In between those two events I have a meeting with the Ministry and Personnel Committee in regard to my annual performance appraisal.
On Thursday December 1st I will work from home to finish up the liturgy for Sunday and craft a sermon. At 10AM I will host A Thursday Pause via Zoom for those using the Advent Devotional Book. Here is the link to the Zoom meeting space.My afternoon will be interrupted by a short (I hope) trip to the dentist for a regular cleaning. And at 7PM I will offer leadership our Annual World AIDs Day Service – an opportunity to light a candle in hope, lament, support one another and commit to the continued work of justice and equity.
Friday and Saturday are supposed to be days off but I have a graveside funeral service to do on Friday afternoon and I’ll likely spend Friday morning getting ready for that. Hopefully Saturday will remain free so we can do some Christmas decorating at home.
On Sunday we will gather in-person and via Facebook Live for the second Sunday of our Advent journey. From Generation to Generation: God meets us in our fear… hope to see you then!