Guest Post: Rev. Amy Gopp is Executive Director of the Week of Compassion. WOC is the relief, refugee and development mission fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. They share the good news of Jesus Christ through disaster response, humanitarian aid, sustainable development and the promotion of mission opportunities. This holiday season, you can make a gift that truly brings hope to a waiting world.
The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.” (Luke 1:30-31)
During this season of preparation, Christians around the world anticipate the birth of a child whose life will be a testament of God’s compassion for all of creation. Even in the midst of economic struggle, environmental concerns, and unspeakable violence, we dare anticipate—and announce—the breaking-in of God’s peace, joy, and love in a world marked by uncertainty. And these times truly are uncertain. Scary, actually. We are left to wonder whether such a thing as “security” really exists anymore.
It takes courage to live faithfully in such a time as this. It takes courage to act out of compassion. As Advent preparation gives way to Christmas celebration, it is very easy to become overwhelmed; by invitations, visiting relatives, and of course, all that “stuff” that Santa magically brings. Celebrating the presence of God, living the compassion of Jesus, and expressing solidarity with those who struggle in the midst of disaster—the things that we value most can become difficult to focus on when there are gifts to assemble and parties to organize. It’s easy to get caught up in the Christmas chaos, the commercials, and the craziness, afraid we might miss out on the best sale of the season. It’s easy to allow our fears to take over, and to think that that one more gift under the tree may just ensure our future happiness.
Because we do live in fear. Some are well founded, others are little more than fabricated, over-hyped and unnecessarily heightened senses of alarm at a time when even the slightest signal of suspicion becomes a terrorist threat.
But then—an angel bursts onto the scene, telling us not to be afraid. For God has found favor with us, even at a time like this. God will guide us forward, if we’re willing to follow. If we’re attentive, we can close our eyes and hear those angel voices singing songs of hope and peace. Because it is not just we who are waiting on God—it is God who waits on us. We are the ones called to bring this good news to the world. We can share an authentic sense of security, because we are those who know not to trust the powers of this world, but rather those of the Realm of God. And in God’s Realm, we have no reason to fear, for God is with us, favors us, and offers us new life.
Prayer: God of New Life, reassure us that in You we are safe and secure. Hold our hands as we create a sense of that divine security in a world that so desperately needs it now. Help us not to be afraid, but to trust in You. Amen.