Luke 2:8-20 (NIV)

Why do we need shepherds? At the time of this story, they were the lowest of the low. But God chose them to have the angels appear to and be the first to hear about the Baby Jesus. No doubt they were terrified. So you see fear is a part of the Christmas story. But the angels said to the shepherds and they say it now to everyone, “Do not be afraid.”

The King James Version of the Bible says they were “sore” afraid. Ever experience that type of fear? It hurts so much you’re sore. I know I’ve been just that afraid. When I was just a little girl, the man who lived next door to me tried to molest me. It was awful. It was terrifying. But when I think back on it, I believe fear saved me. The type of fear that makes you sore afraid. That type of fear made me understand that what was happening to me was wrong. It allowed me to pull away from this evil man and run like the wind away from him.

We live in a fear-filled world. What do you fear? Do you have more than one fear? My two biggest fears are snakes and drowning. I don’t even like looking at pictures of snakes. When I washing my face in the sink if anyone comes up behind me it freaks me out.

Here’s a stat—the #1 fear is public speaking. Even more than death. I can dig that. I too suffer from a fear of public speaking. The reason I didn’t list it above is that it’s only a sometimes fear. Make any sense? Probably not, but that’s how fear rolls. I actually do public speaking. Quite often even. What I mean by a “sometimes fear” is that if the audience is mostly neutral (meaning, I don’t know very many people in the audience or if I’m super confident in my material) I’m a rock star. 😊 But, if I know the audience is filled with those who are a lot smarter, more gifted, or higher up the food chain than I, panic is my middle name. Dry mouth takes over, I sweat profusely, my voice shakes, and I typically vomit before going on the stage. So I totally get the fear of public speaking.

Fear is real. It can paralyze you. We need this story of the shepherds. It was made for fearful people. There are many types of fear: fear of inadequacy, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of loss. We find ourselves fearful and not faithful. The angels brought good news. The birth of a Savior—Jesus! When the shepherds saw the baby, it opened up a window to God.

So if you fear for whatever, you need to listen to the words of this child (Jesus), ““Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:25-34 (ESV)

If you fear you’ll never receive forgiveness because of a sin you’ve committed, you need to know something important. You need to know that God can forgive you because He loves you that much. When Jesus was on the cross he asked God to forgive the ones crucifying him. “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” John 14:1 (ESV)

Whatever fears or anxieties you find yourself experiencing, remember the words of Jesus, “I am with you always.” This is the purpose of a Savior. Jesus was born for this. “To you is given this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord.”

COVID-19 has robbed us of many things. It’s made us fearful. I see it every time I go out. When I walk, I see people in their cars wearing a mask and they are alone. I just don’t get that kind of fear. But their fear is real to them. I know I’m not comfortable going into a lot of places. I always wear my mask when I have to go into a store or a restaurant or to the doctor. I’m looking forward to next Christmas when our surroundings and other people won’t be so scary making us fearful of life.

So, why shepherds? Why would God choose ones such as these? Thought of as lowly, unworthy, unimportant people. Kinda dirty and smelly people at that. Not the type to invite to Sunday dinner.

Photo by HAN Mengqi on Unsplash

Maybe, because God wants us all to know that He sent His Son for each one of us. None of us is too insignificant or too unimportant for God to love. Plus, He knew how humbled the shepherds would be. He knew they would be honored to spread the word of the birth of the Baby Jesus. The Savior of us all.

This Christmas especially during this time of uncertainty, remember the best Christmas gift you can give to God is your joy.

Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy

And that’s what I learned in Church……see ya next time!