Do not be afraid: into a world characterised as post-truth, truth is born today
Liz Stuart, 24 December 2019
Isaiah 9: 2–7: Luke 2: 1–20
On this Christmas morning I want to say that governments often get things wrong, Christians often get things wrong (I certainly do), churches usually get things wrong, but the angels – the angels, they never get things wrong. They are messengers from God; they exist only to do God’s will. They are God’s message, and today their message is clear: ‘Do not be afraid’ (Luke 2: 10). Do not be afraid, because a child is born.
Into our world, a world characterised as post-truth, truth is born today – not as a set of propositions, not as a book, nor as a Tweet, but as a baby who can only be known by being found and loved.
Into a world gripped by fear of the stranger, Christ comes as an outsider dependent upon the kindness of others.
Into a world ravaged by cruelty, he is born among the beasts, lying in their feeding stall, offering himself not just to us humans but to all life.
Into a world suspicious of experts and those with power, the wise and the marginalised alike are drawn to the peculiar authority of the infant.
Into a world gripped by the icy hand of terror, the angels swoop, directing us to the stable and declaring that because of what is happening today there is no need to be afraid. In a world of darkness, the glory of God blazes through the eyes of a baby.
If today you find yourself in a place of darkness, do not despair, for the people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in a land of deep darkness a light has dawned (Isaiah 9: 2). Light inextinguishable is being born in the inky night and no depth of darkness can overcome it.
If today you feel on the edge of the world, do not feel lonely, but like the shepherds look up because the angels have found you and are singing, ‘Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people’.
If today you despair of the cruelty and coldness of the human heart, take courage, for God chooses to nestle among the beasts, their sibling first.
If today you are bewildered and depressed by what Thomas Merton called the ‘demented inn’ of the world we live in, have hope because just outside that inn God lies – one of us, certainly, but outwith our desiccating meanness. There may be no room in the inn, but the divine makes room in itself for us all.
If today you find yourself longing for a reality deeper, richer and more permanent than anything the world can offer, rejoice because such a reality is incarnated today in the dark places, at the edges and among the marginalised and the beasts. You just have to step outside the demented inn to find it.
If today you find yourself longing for a deeper, richer reality, rejoice because such a reality is incarnated today in the dark places, at the edges and among the marginalised and the beasts.
Let the tiny hand of this child grip your finger. He will never ever let go. That little hand connects you to a love that alone is truth, peace and life. It is a love that always catches us no matter how hard or fast we fall. It is a love that is our best and only hope. Stretch out your finger and let God grasp it. In fact, let’s do it together because in some mysterious way this little child will lead us all to a state of real truth, true peace and authentic love.
And if you cannot do so today, that is okay. Take my hand and together, broken, battered and baffled though we may be, we will form part of a chain stretching back to that stable in Bethlehem and forward to a place where the Light has overcome all darkness.