Last week my son, Ben helped in lighting the Advent Candles this week. Right when we lit the candelabra, he said, “I’m scared!” Which was cute. I guess it’s a good thing to be aware of fire and know it’s potential risk.
But really made me think about the concept of being scared or afraid during this season of Advent and as well Christmas. Normally, we think of Advent and Christmas to be a time of joy and celebration. A time that we get to drive around the neighborhood in the evening and enjoy the Christmas decorations and lights. A time that we sing Christmas carols and prepare the gifting giving tradition.
But have you ever thought about being scared or afraid during this time?
It’s funny because not too long ago (Black Friday) I bought a Ring Video Doorbell for the home. And I couldn’t help to notice how popular this item was! It was flying off the shelves in the online stores. Now, I got mine for purposes that I am tired of my amazon packages being taken off our porch and also as a nice way of letting guests come in and out of the house when I am not around. But I know the main reason most people get them, including myself is security purposes. Makes me wonder how afraid I really am and also how afraid others are. Makes me wonder that with the holidays within are midst, that in the back of our mind, maybe somewhere in our deep unconscious we are somehow afraid of something.
But also, I realize that Advent and Christmas traditionally came into our lives in the present of great fear. Think about the very first Christmas, well at least from a Christian perspective. The first Christmas we recognize is the night of Jesus’ birth. Now just think about the amount of fear that proceeded Christ’s birth, the fear and worry that was present at His birth, and the fear that lasted after he was born.
Before Jesus was born, Mary gets the news that she is have a son. This is obviously shocking news to Mary who has never laid with another man before. A young girl, now pregnant. This not only caught her off guard, but I am sure she was scared. Wondering what the social implications are going to be and also how her husband-to-be will respond as well. She probably would anyone believe her story that she was visited by an angel in the darkest of nights. Joseph on the other hand, find out what is happening when he also is visited by God’s messenger. He must have thought all this is absolutely crazy!
During the birth of Christ, Mary and Joseph find themselves in Bethlehem, with nowhere to go. They couldn’t even get a proper room in the inn! They had no other option but to take room in a stable with the animals. Stay in the stable, being at the mercy of the cold winter weather, and also vulnerable to anything that may be lurking outside. Meanwhile, shepherds are out in some field get the most astonishing of sights. Suddenly, a barrage of strange entities appears before them telling of a Savior being born! These unexpected guests, put these shepherds in fear. Now, just prior to the arrival of Christ being born, wisemen find an anomaly in the skies above them. Something, that just doesn’t seem right. A star magically appears where there were no stars before. But is it a star? It’s not moving like other stars. And also, this is shining in the night and day! Is it a warning? Is it the end of the world?
And after Jesus is born, the holy family find themselves in a middle of a manhunt. They must flee their home, their country and go somewhere else because Herod wants to kill the child, and hence has to order a death sentence for every child being born in the year that the star first appeared.
The Christian Christmas story is full of fear, anxiety, and catastrophes. If you find yourself feeling like anything short of joy, then you aren’t alone. But at the same time, you don’t have to feel like the world is a scary, depressing, hopeless place. Sure, maybe, at the moment, it can feel this way, but that moment will pass.
When Jesus was born it was surely a time of stress, fear, anxiety, worry, and catastrophe. And sometimes our world can feel the same. And sometimes our personal life can reflect this as well. But again, Jesus was born to bring hope and peace. Unfortunately, to get there hope and peace was met with uncertainty and even hostility.
But if we learn anything about the journey of the Holy Family, from the time the visons came to Mary and Joseph, to the curiosity of the wisemen and shepherds, and even the quick thinking of needing to leave their country to safety, that is be resilient and persevere. You may feel that the cards are stacked against you and that the odds are not in your favor but remember with God by your side and you stay resilient, there is nothing that you cannot accomplish.
There is a reason that Jesus is named “Emmanuel,” which means God with us. God never promised us an easy life, but God di promise to be with us. SO I hope you recognize this during Advent and Christmas. God is with you. God bless.
Hey this is Rev. Brian Choi's random thought throughout my week. Most of this stuff, will probably be about family, church, fishing, music, movies, food, whatever I think of, hopefully it will have some sort of theological reflection (maybe).