Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Shepherd's Fear -- a reading for Christmas Eve

Was I afraid? You bet I was. Who wouldn't be? After all it isn't every day that the night sky is filled with angels singing!

I think we were all afraid but most of them refuse to admit it. But when that brightness filled the sky that night I know I was terrified. At first I thought there was a fire coming over the hillside but then I realized the light was up in the sky. I just fell to the ground and wouldn't look up. Who knows what might happen if I looked at that light?

Well the light didn't go away so eventually I peeked. Everyone else was huddled on the ground just like me. Even big strong Josiah, who claims that he isn't afraid of anything. Even he was cowering and whimpering in fear. And then The light spoke. “Don't be afraid”

Something about the voice gave me strength and I stood up to look more carefully at the light. As I looked closely I could see a face in the center of the light. The angel seemed to look right at me. I was still afraid but somehow it was alright now. It was a calm sort of fear, if that makes any sense.

You all know the rest of the story. How the angel told us about a baby that had been born, a baby who would be the promised Saviour, how we ran down the hill to see this baby. But it didn't stop there for me.

You see I am still afraid. All my life I have been told that we have to be careful, we have to avoid getting the Romans angry. Otherwise there will be big trouble, and people getting killed and houses burned. We struggle to survive as it is, we don't need any more trouble. But when I looked into the face of that baby I saw real power. I saw that this was a child who could bring real changes in the world. And one thing I have learned is that the people in power don't really like change – unless they control it of course.

The old stories tell us that the Promised One would change how the world works. They tell us that we will get our land back. I hope that happens. I hope things change. But I am afraid. When this little baby grows up and does what I hope he will do, what will happen? I have hope. I have hope in a new way of life where I don't have to go hungry half the time. But I am afraid of the reaction to those changes. Still it is odd, this fear and hope mixture is strangely calming. Certainly it is better than the fear and hopelessness I see all around me...

No comments: