By Canon Cate Edmonds
“And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.’” – Luke 2:10
There are two words in this passage which stand out for me: fear and joy. It’s interesting that they are both used in the same sentence. There will be many people this Christmas who are living in fear, both far afield and nearby. Those far afield who are suffering are in war zones in Palestine, Israel, Ukraine and other areas of conflicts around the World. There are people nearer to home who are in fear: the homeless, the abused, and the lonely. The words “fear not” may not give them much comfort, as was the intent of the angel addressing the shepherds on the lonely hillside. However, we must continue to pray that even in some small way they may receive some peace and that through the darkness the light of the Good News, God coming to earth in human form, may shine into their lives, reducing fear.
The other word, in contrast, joy, is what we should be celebrating at this time. The look of joy on a child’s face as they receive their longed for present. The joy of meeting up with loved ones, the joy of memories, though tinged with sadness, of Christmases past. Even the joy of singing those old familiar carols. I love to watch people at carol services. For many their faces light up, as they are singing their favourite carol once again, and, as they leave a service, the joy is still on their faces.
As we approach that time when, once again, we will peer into the manger and see the Christ child, will there be joy in our hearts? Will we rejoice at the remembrance of our Saviour’s birth? Two thousand years ago, simple shepherds put away their fear and they were rewarded with joy. For many at this time of year it will be very difficult to put away fear, to find something to be joyful about. We pray that at least some with remember that it is possible to have joy because God came into the world to bring his love directly to us, to be the ray of light to shine through the darkness of war, homelessness, loneliness, fear and sadness.
I pray that we all may hear the voices of the angels singing again “And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people’” regardless of their situation.
I came across this comment on the variety of Bible quotes that abound on Christmas cards etc, “Don’t forget that these quotes, even though religious, can create a warm connection between you and the people around you, regardless of their faith. They embody the universal principles of love, peace, kindness, and joy that everyone, of all faiths or of no faith, can connect to.”
A sentiment which I am sure we can all agree with. So, I pray that love, peace, kindness, and joy may abound for everyone in the New Year to come. Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.