Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Anxiety

I'm glad to know that my Christmas anxiety isn't anything new. And I just need to remember that I don't have to be anxious.

Christmas story teaches us not to be afraid

Published Date: 24 December 2008
By Andrew Anderson

The Christmas story of the birth of Jesus is a story with a powerful and enduring
appeal. Each year we gladly celebrate it in the cards we send and receive, in
the carols we sing, in our Christmas decorations, in school nativity plays, and
in church services.

Joseph and Mary going to Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus in the stable, the
baby laid in a manger, the angels' appearance to the shepherds, the wise men
following the star and coming to worship Jesus with their gifts.We love the
story! It has warmth and a comfort that perhaps reminds us of the time when we
celebrated Christmas as little children in our families, and which remain as
especially happy memories for many of us.

But closer examination of the story in the Bible shows us that it was for
those involved a time of anxiety, and even great fear. The words "do not be
afraid" run throughout the narrative.

When the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her that she would give
birth to Jesus his first words were "do not be afraid, Mary". The angel who
appeared to Joseph to tell him about the child Mary was carrying says to him "do
not be afraid". When the angel appeared to the shepherds to tell them of Jesus'
birth his first words were also "do not be afraid". We need to hear this because
we are anxious and fearful and there is much we find threatening. Our personal
circumstances this Christmas may be difficult. The credit crunch is bringing
misery to many. Terrorism is rarely out of the news. Many live as victims of
injustice and cruelty.

But the message of that first Christmas at Bethlehem still has power to
change lives and renew our world for the better – "a Saviour has been born to
you", "peace on earth and goodwill towards all people".

If we can open our lives and accept the loving invitation of God for us in
Jesus Christ, and if we can share that love in our care for others, then the
Christmas message will lessen our fears and bring us all comfort and joy.

Andrew Anderson is Minister at Greenside Parish Church and Moderator of the
Presbytery of Edinburgh

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