EDITORIAL: Do not be afraid

Intermixed with the usual joy and merriment of this Christmas season are discordant themes of trouble and fear. Terrorism. Taliban. War in Afghanistan. Recession at home. Layoffs. Business failures. Yes, the “Fear Factor” is high-not the trivial sort broadcast from exploitive television programmers in prime time, but the profound variety spoken of in so many American homes, schools and business. And whispered in the quiet places of our hearts.

In one sense it’s lousy Christmas timing this year-the expected joy and merriment seem almost out of place amid so many sobering realities. And yet Christmas could not be better timed-for us-than now.

Amid current events that cause us to tremble in the darkness of night, what better time to hear the words of the angels that first Christmas: “Do not be afraid.”

Amid eulogies for victims of terror and the headlines of war, what better time to be reminded: “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”

And in a day when our national self-confidence is both undermined and at the same time exaggerated, when questions are many and answers are few, what better time to be confronted with an alternate voice, a different paradigm: “Today, in the town of David, a savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

The shepherds who first heard those words 2,000 years ago were living in a situation not unlike ours. Their homeland was conquered by foreign terrorists. Their occupation placed them among the working poor and the socially outcast. They needed hope, a cause worth living for.

Scripture says that when the shepherds followed the direction of the angels and embraced this innocent babe, “they returned glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.”

And so it can be for us.

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