Series: Angels Among Us: #DoNotBeAfraid – Flying in the Face of Fear at Advent
Title: Do Not Be Afraid
Luke 1:26 – 2:20, Matthew 2:1-14
December 24, 2018
Rev. Sandy Johnson
Do Not Be Afraid! Why is it that the first words out of the angel’s mouth is always, “Do not be afraid?!” Fear Not! I bring you good news of great joy! What do the angelic messengers know, that we don’t?
We have been talking about angels for weeks now, digging deep into our series, Angels Among Us. What’s astounding to me is that after worship every Sunday I’ve heard story after story of how others saw, heard, or felt angels among us, bringing words of encouragement, giving signs that everything is going to be alright, even in the midst of darkness.
One of our folks shared that she had made a phone call once and it was a wrong number. Instead of hanging up, she and the women on the other end of the line began talking. They became phone friends by accident. (of course we know better!) It was only later that she learned that her new phone friend has been in a very desperate place and when she called her in error. She shared how she was feeling like ending her life, but because of the call she was encouraged and changed her mind. There are angels among us.
Another woman shared yesterday that she had been having some difficulty at work and was concerned that she may lose her job. She prayed and felt God was leading her and encouraging her to stand up for what she needed. She held firm and shared with her boss what she needed, to continue working at the company. She told me that her next three clients all had the name “Christ” in their name. All three! She knew she was receiving a sign from God that she need not be afraid! Wouldn’t you know it, she not only kept her job, has fewer responsibilities but she received a considerable increase in pay. You can’t make this up! You see, there are angels among us!
When my oldest child, Calvin was 15, he was hit by a car. He was riding his bike and a woman t-boned him. He shared later that as he was flying through the air, he felt as if someone held him and gently laid him down on the ground. Angels among us!
The angels among us have a clear message: Do Not Be Afraid!
The message is clear and direct throughout the bible and especially in the story of Jesus’ birth. Zechariah was the first to be face to face with an angel. He and his wife Elizabeth were old, well past their child bearing years and Elizabeth’s only prayer was to have a baby. An angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah while he was doing his priestly duties at the temple and said to him:
“Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.” He and Elizabeth gave birth to a son, John. John’s mission was to prepare the way for the Jesus’ ministry, baptizing and preaching.
Mary was the next to receive a heavenly visit. A young girl, betrothed to a man named Joseph, she was surprised by the angel’s presence: “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” Mary was stunned and was afraid. The angel said to her: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” Boy, those are words we’d like to hear one day, you have found favor with God!
The angel went on tell her how she would conceive a son through the Holy Spirit and name him Jesus. The angel said, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
I find it interesting that Mary questions how she’ll become pregnant, not the crux of the message which is, she will birth a king, the long-awaited messiah! Her baby will change the world in ways she can’t yet imagine. The angel assures her that with God nothing is impossible. So, Mary humbles herself and accepts her call to birth the Prince of Peace.
Our third angelic encounter happened with Joseph, Mary’s husband. The angel had to get Joseph on board or this plan would never work out. Mary had told Joseph about her angelic visit and that she was in fact pregnant. Joseph finds the story impossible to believe and decides to divorce her quietly. But, God had a different plan, so he sent an angel to Joseph’s dream with an important message. “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins…they shall call him Emmanuel, God is with us.”
Nine months later the blessed time came for Mary and Joseph to travel to Bethlehem for the census. As difficult as it was to find a place to stay, they were given lodging in a stable, with the animals. It was all they could find. It was all part of a divine plan. You see Jesus wasn’t born in a palace for only the select few. Jesus was born, humbly, quietly, without fanfare, in a stable where he was accessible by the lowest of the low, the shepherds.
Which leads us to our last angelic visit, the shepherds. They weren’t royalty. They were not part of the “in” crowd and the place the angel said they would find this new king was not the Buckingham Palace. An angel interrupted an otherwise quiet night outside of Bethlehem to tell these uneducated, underappreciated, and somewhat smelly shepherds, that God had delivered the Messiah, the long-awaited ruler who would change the world forever.
“Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
When things are tough, when we are confused, when we feel like nothing’s going to come out right, we pray for signs, we pray for direction, we pray for assurance that everything’s going to be ok and we breeze past the message the angels have for us.
Do Not Be Afraid! They know that their messages are from God and all that comes from God is right and good. They remind us not to be afraid, everything will be alright – whether we get unbelievable news of answered prayer as did Zechariah, or news of the impossible as did Mary, or the encouragement to stick with a relationship in upheaval as Joseph did, or the best news of your life – born this day, in the City of David, Christ the Lord. Our Savior.
Christ has redeemed us. Imagine this innocent, baby, taking on the mantle of the whole world. But he did, he did that for us! “Yes, I believe there are angels among us, encouraging us not to be afraid. We can be messengers of love, flying in the face of fear, for we are the Body of Christ.”
 Luke 1:13, 19
 Luke 1:28
 Like 1:30
 Luke 1:32-33
 Matthew 1:20-21, 23
 Luke 1:10-12