During the season of Advent, I am going to do something new on the blog. I am going to try my best to offer a daily reflection here as we journey through this season together. To help frame the devotions I have been using hashtags designed by a group with the Episcopalian church. For example, the hashtag assigned for today is #Fearless.
Today’s word for reflection is “Fearless.” I’ve been a bit stumped all day about how to reflect about this, because I’m anything but fearless. With all of the uncertainty, trials and challenges that we all face in our daily lives, to say anyone is fearless might be a stretch.
My unofficial aunt has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It’s pretty hard to be fearless with that diagnosis. I am hopeful and trusting in the promises that God is present, and healing will come. But it’s obviously rather scary and uncertain.
As Allison and I find ourselves in ongoing discernment of what’s next, we lose a little sleep here as well. That’s not necessarily fear causing, but dwelling in and on the question, of “What is God up to in our lives,” and other such questions certainly leaves us far from certain as to what life will look like six months from now. I’m not afraid of this, so much as just hoping for a little longer sense of clarity.
Like thousands and millions of people, my wife and I are looking forward to being able to travel back and spend time with loved ones after Christmas. However, like many of those thousands and millions we are not exactly fearless of this either. It’s always a little scary and nerve wracking to go back into family systems, traditions, expectations, etc. It’s not that we are not grateful, but we do worry about letting family and loved ones down.
We worry about the awkward questions that many people our age get from families like: “When are you moving back?” “When are you going to have a baby? I’m not getting any younger.” We’re used to these questions, but that does not mean that we don’t lose a little sleep about them either.
In thinking about being fearless, I am thinking again today about the passage in Matthew 1:18-25, where an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream. I wonder, if an angel appeared to me in a dream like they did to Joseph would I have that kind of faith to do as I was told by the angel? Would I have that sense of fearlessness? I would love to say I would, but deep down I really have my doubts. Do you?
The redeeming thing about Christmas and our fears though, is that we don’t have to dwell in them alone. We can hand them over to God, and that’s perhaps the biggest point of all. At Christmas, God chooses vulnerability and to break into the world in the lowly and fragile form of a human baby, just like you and I. If God is wiling to do that for us, and literally be Emmanuel, “God with us,” we can release the rest of these fears. God’s with us and we’re not alone. And with all these things in mind- health, discernment, family, other questions you may have, that’s the most important thing. God is with you and God loves you, even when things might seem bleak and you have more questions than answers. Know, you aren’t alone. You are loved.
What fears are you wrestling with and worrying about right now?
If you have some fears, join me in this short prayer:
Gracious God, you know what worries us, what we’re afraid of, who we are and what we are facing. Please be present with us, reassure us, ground us and open our eyes, hearts and minds to your love and peace. Let it wash over us this Christmas season, and let us be renewed in you. In your holy name we pray, Amen.