The pageants we put on in our churches at this time of year offer a variety of experiences. Some are elaborate with drama and orchestral instruments. (Check out the production at Woodstock First Baptist Church!) But most of the smaller churches will dress children in bathrobes to simulate shepherds’ and wise men’s robes.

One little fellow got the assignment as an angel. He had only one line to remember: “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.” However, when that moment came for his announcement, he drew the proverbial blank as he stared into the darkness of the sanctuary. As the stage manager whispered his line, something came to his mind, and he shouted, “Man, have I got news for you!” I think he caught the significance of his line!

The angelic announcement was certainly one of the glorious moments of the birth of Jesus. The opening remark was “Don’t be afraid!” Before the complete announcement, those reassuring words came. I don’t think that was an accident.

This is where the Christmas story can genuinely be experienced – don’t be afraid. God’s word is not something to fear!

Perhaps in 2019 we need to hear that pronouncement again — Don’t be afraid! Whatever your fear, God can handle it.

There are numerous “phobias” that trouble us at emotional levels. Some are the fear of leaving home; some fear being in a closed environment, making even an elevator a difficult experience.

Other fears cause us to avoid people. All of these behaviors keep us from functioning at an optimal level.

That’s where the angelic greetings bring such joy. Don’t be afraid; let go of the fear that imprisons you. Don’t be afraid; this is a message of liberation. When you have struggled with an oppressive malady, those words offer joy. They are a message of hope! Deep within each of us is a desire to be free of the things that trouble us and hinder our living joyfully. Here comes a message to call us out of our personal darkness into a spiritual light. It’s the message of God’s love, delivered in the words of the angels who announced Jesus’ birth: “Don’t be afraid; I have good news!”

Are you looking for good news? The angels have a message: the good news of Christmas! Drink it in and believe the message of hope: “He shall save His people from their sins.”

Dr. James E Kilgore retired as President of the International Family Foundation and lives in Canton. His most recent book, LIVING WITHOUT LIMITS, was published this month and is available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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