Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.
Every holiday season as a child I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas. It was a tradition. But it wasn’t until I was older that I saw the most important message in the movie. Linus took to the stage and told the story of the shepherds abiding in the field, watching their flocks by night. Here’s where the movie gets profound. When Linus quoted, “But the angel of the Lord said unto them, ‘Fear not’” he dropped his security blanket before he continued the story— “for I bring you tidings of great joy, for unto you is born a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
For Linus, it was a blanket. For you and I, perhaps it is our looks, our careers, our bank accounts, our fancy cars, clothes, and houses, or even our addictions, that we cling to for security. But we should drop all of those things and cling to God instead. We have nothing to fear because God loves us so very much that He sent His Son to walk among us and teach us about the greatest lesson we will ever learn: to love.
As we enter into this season of celebrating Christ’s birth, let us drop the things we hide behind. Let us drop our fears, especially our fear of one another, and embrace the message Christ shared with us. Let us dismantle all the barriers we’ve created to love and take to heart the glorious words of the angel, “Fear not,” for God is with us.
“I got nothin’ God,” I said, feeling rather guilty as I stared out the window at the clouds building up on the horizon.
“What do you mean?” God asked softly.
“I didn’t know what to write about today,” I confessed.
“Oh, that,” God replied. “I knew you were feeling a bit stuck.”
“I thought I’d write about the beautiful covey of quail in the garden. Then I thought I’d write about the sunlight that painted everything pink and gold. Then the feral kittens showed up at my kitchen door and I thought about how precious they are. But I wasn’t able to turn any of my thoughts into a soul reminder,
“That’s quite alright, Sparrow,” God said. “I know your heart was in the right place.”
“It’s always looking for ways to share your love. That’s really what all of my soul reminders are about—how much you love us.
“I know. And I do love you all, so very, very, much. It’s why I created everything for you to enjoy,” God said.
A gust of wind from the coming storm rattled the windows of the cottage. Off in the distance, thunder rolled across the mountain tops. “I’m sure I’ll know what to write tomorrow,” I said as I curled up on my chaise lounge, ready to enjoy the wild weather.
“I know you will,” God said and sat down beside. I rested my head on His shoulders as the clouds broke open and the rain came down, pattering on the roof.
Two deer grazed just outside my kitchen window. Now and again, they raised their heads to watch me as I made my morning cup of coffee. I felt connected to them— as if the three of us were blessed to share the moment together. After a while, they moved on and my thoughts turned to the day ahead. I had a long to-do list waiting for me.
“You’ll do better if you empty your cup,” God said as I sat down at my desk.
“But I just made it,” I lifted my mug up for Him to see. “I’ve only had a sip or two.”
“Not that cup. You. Empty yourself,” God said gently. “Empty yourself of your pride. Allow me to fill you— to direct you.”
“Will you help me?” I asked.
“Of course. Be still. Feel me deep within your heart. Let my love guide you as you work today,” He instructed. “Remember, your work isn’t about you. It’s about the people your work serves.”
I thought of the people my work touches—how so many of them are scared and feeling hopeless. I prayed, “Please God, let your love reach through me and touch them.”
“I’ll fill your cup with my love so that it overflows onto everyone you speak with today,” God promised. I looked up from my desk. The two deer had returned. They stood in the meadow, looking at me. I smiled, feeling God’s love fill my heart.
“…invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.”
Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love one another. That commandment superseded any law. When Jesus told us not to invite the rich to the table, but instead invite the poor, crippled, lame, and the blind to dinner, He meant we are to do more than merely feed them a meal. We are to enter into a relationship with them. We are to care for them.
Don’t set the table for only the rich and powerful. That would be in service of your ego. Instead, be of service to God. Set the table for people who are poor, sick or suffering. Give to them without thought of repayment. Give to them the way your Father gives to you: with much abundance and joy. Let us all work towards unity and peace among all people, for love is everyone’s birthright. It is part of everyone’s DNA. It is God.
“I’m making progress, God,” I said and pointed from my bedroom to Mitties, one of the feral cats, curled up on my daybed in the den.
“They are learning to trust you,” God said.
“I wish that they would trust me enough so that they would want to stay inside on these cold nights. If they could just trust that I love them and that I’ll take care of them, they would be better off,” I said.
“You’re preaching to the choir,” God said.
“Oh, of course,” I said.
“Yes, but I’m patient,” God answered. “I keep loving and loving and loving some more.”
“I’m glad that I’m learning to trust your love.”
“I’m glad too, Sparrow.”
“It’s not always easy,” I confessed.
“Please be patient with me when I falter in my faith,” I asked.
“Always, God answered.
“Thank you,” I said and got up and stoked the fire in the potbelly stove. Soon Mitties would wander back out the kitchen door I had left open for him, but until then, I was happy that he is learning to trust me—just as I’m learning to trust God. It’s all about love.