It’s hard to know where to begin, so I’ll start by going back, back to the familiar passages we hear at Christmas time. For those who’ve heard Luke 2 recited every year of their lives, the angel’s message to the shepherds automatically rolls off the tongue, perhaps too quickly to be absorbed by either head or heart. That’s been true for me. But on Dec. 18, 2011, I read Rick Warren’s Daily Hope devotional, which caused me to pause and really think about whether or not I allow these words to change my life. The angel didn’t say, “Well, I have good news and bad news. Which do you want to hear first?” He said, “I bring you GOOD NEWS that will bring GREAT JOY to ALL PEOPLE!” In the dark of night, just doing their job, the shepherds were shocked by bright lights and shouting and singing. What if our hum-drum lives were interrupted by such an amazing and miraculous show? New and unfamiliar events (and the unknown) can sometimes trigger fear in me, too. But as Warren pointed out in his devotional, God didn’t come to scare us or scold us. He came to show us that He’s with us and for us. It’s all good news – no need to fear.
Here is a quote from Warren’s devotional (one of the “still, small voice” prompts that led me to follow through on this blog idea). “When God sends a message to people in the Bible, it’s not unusual for the first words to be: ‘Don’t be afraid.’ There are 365 messages from God in the Bible that begin with a phrase like, ‘Fear not!’ In other words, every single day of the year you can read a message from God that says, in effect, ‘You don’t need to be afraid. I am for you; I am with you; I love you.'” Then Warren asks, “How would your life change if you deeply believed God is for you?”
I don’t know exactly how my life will change this year, but I know that when fear sneaks in and I become “sore afraid” (as the shepherds were), this will be a perfect response: God has good news that brings great joy ~ Emmanuel = God’s with me, God is for me, God loves me!
The shepherds were sent into town to explore what the news was all about. I invite you to do the same thing with me. Come and worship, come and see.
What a wonderful way to begin a new year – and every day!