December 1, 2009

Do Not Be Afraid!

Once when Zechariah was serving as priest he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense. Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside at the hour of the incense offering, the angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah. Zechariah was troubled by what he saw and fear came over him.

But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid Zechariah for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. (Luke 1:8-15)

The angel tells Zechariah that his prayer has been heard. We aren't told what Zechariah has been praying for, but now we know. He was praying for Isreal, of course, as a Jewish priest would do. But he was also praying for a son.

Sometimes we're afraid to pray for things that seem unrealistic.

Three times in the birth story of Jesus we'll hear angels say, "Do not be afraid" - to Zechariah here, to Mary at the Annunciation, and to the shepherds in the fields. Jesus in his public life will say these same words five times.

This Advent, do not be afraid!

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