But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see⎯I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)
On this Christmas Eve, many of us aren’t spending time with our families in person. Neither are we gathering with our church family for in-person worship, an annual tradition that we all deeply cherish and miss. The chilly months ahead will likely mean even more isolation, as the weather makes it increasingly difficult to socialize outside.
Our fear of contracting the coronavirus ourselves and of spreading it to others has impacted every sphere of our daily lives, a reality that we feel particularly keenly this Christmas Eve when so many of our traditions have been upended.
And yet, even as we mourn this loss of community and togetherness, we also acknowledge that we are right to be afraid. Too many of us know firsthand the coronavirus’ devastating impact, and those of us lucky enough to avoid firsthand encounters have heard a multitude of tragic stories on the news, in our social media feeds, and through conversations with friends and family on the phone.
“Do not be afraid.”
On this Christmas Eve when there is so much to fear, when there is a very real threat to our own lives and the lives of those we love, what does it truly mean to heed the angel’s words? Perhaps “do not be afraid” isn’t a free pass to disregard our fear and do whatever we please, but rather an invitation to the deep and abiding freedom in Christ that comes with the angel’s good news of great joy for all the people.
Dear friends, our waiting is finally over! Jesus Christ, our Messiah and Lord, is born to us this day in the city of David. Even as we are unable to gather together, Jesus Christ is very much among us, born in a manger, wrapped in swaddling cloth. Nothing⎯not even the coronavirus⎯can separate us from Emmanuel, “God with us.” And so, we are freed to follow Christ’s example without fear, to be profoundly with and for one another, to intertwine our lives⎯even if that means that we must choose to love and protect one another by being separated in body for a little while longer.
As we celebrate today and as we navigate the season ahead, do not be afraid. We are not alone, for God is with us. Thanks be to God! And Merry Christmas!