The first step can be the hardest, and often involves overcoming fear. Luke’s gospel is full of first steps, beginning with the pre-nativity story. Again and again we see people confront their fear while God sends the words:
Be not afraid, United Methodists when change looms and you lack answers. God is here.
The words ripple out from Zechariah’s priestly point in history; to his wife’s kinswoman; to the average joes in the field, through generations of Jesus’ followers.
Be not afraid, Zechariah(Luke 1: 12)
You will have joy and gladness in a son with God’s powerful purpose.
Be not afraid, Mary(Luke 1: 30)
You have found favor with God who is doing a new thing in and through you.
Be not afraid, out in the fields, doing your work far from home.(Luke 2: 10).
Share in the joy of the universe at who God has brought into the world.
Questions come where fear stops us in our tracks:
“How will I know that this is so?
From Zechariah, struck mute in his position of incredulous authority.
“How can this be?”
From Mary, singing from her humble position of vulnerability, and acceptance.
Mary’s song (Luke 1: 47-56) is the song Jesus hears in the womb. It is the song that will be thrumming through his being when he proclaims the reign of God is at hand. (Luke 4: 18)
Do not be afraid, Peter, now you’ll catch people instead of fish. (Luke 5: 10)
Be not afraid, when you see the glory of God! (Luke 9: 28-35)
Be not afraid to ask Jesus your questions.
Be not afraid to see.
Be not afraid to empty yourself.
Be not afraid to knock on heaven’s door.
Be not afraid to believe the humanly impossible.
Be not afraid of those who could kill you. God values even each hair on your head. (Luke 12: 4)
Be afraid (“woe to you”) only if you will not embrace God’s commandment to love God and others (even the ones who harm you, scare you, or place demands on you) as yourself. Be afraid only if these is no room in you for the authentic seed of grace to take root and flourish.
Be as fearless as little children.
Be fearless in your hunger for God
Be fearless in giving praise.
Be fearless in bearing witness to God’s realm breaking into our lives.
Be not afraid, Jesus, when God asks everything of you. (Luke 22: 41-45)
God has you firmly in hand (Luke 23: 46)
Be not afraid, Jesus’ friends, when you discover the living Christ in your midst. (Luke 24: 36-49). He will help you understand.
Be not afraid world, your redeemer is at hand and love is released into the world with all its power.
O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him
Christ, the Lord.