8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Can you imagine being a shepherd out in the field that night? A night like most other nights, you’re tired, maybe hungry, you’ve worked hard all day, and you definitely smell…well, kind of sheepish. You’re not well educated or considered to be socially acceptable in most places. The flock is settling down, just a few “baas” here and there. You sit and look up at the sky. Is it unusually bright or is it just my tired eyes? Oh, you can’t sleep. You have to watch the sheep. Just for a split second you close your eyes and doze when through closed eyes a bright light startles you! Commotion surrounds you with bleating sheep and other startled shepherds! Then you hear a voice like no other you have ever heard. “Do not be afraid” and you are mesmerized with the message of good news of Jesus birth. You start to wonder if this is some kind of beautiful dream when suddenly the sky fills with hundreds of angels praising God. You are fully awake and know this is real. You have an excitement like electricity coursing through your body and you know you must go see this baby, this long awaited Messiah. The angels promise peace on earth. Your life is forever changed.
The very first message, “Do not be afraid.”; appears in the Bible more than eighty times and very often in the Christmas story. God came to earth, Emanuel, in the form of Baby Jesus, who lived to teach us about His Father and modeled obedience to His Father. He takes away fear of living. He takes away fear of not pleasing other people. He takes away fear of death. The promised peace on earth begins with the peace in our hearts when we accept the love of God and allow Jesus full leadership of our lives through the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Lord, help us, as we celebrate this year, to learn more about you and to deepen our relationship with you. Help us to trust more and fear less. Thank you, Father, for your love so vast we cannot fathom. Thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ in whose name we pray. Amen