By the Rev. Cynthia Skripak
Pastor, Yardley UMC
I invite you to picture this scenario: An economy with a huge disparity between rich and poor. Groups of people who fear persecution because of their ethnic identity. A government that is protective about its borders. A leader that is seen as a strong authority figure.
Now picture the birth of a baby in a stable, who grows up to become our great healer, teacher and Savior. That’s right, the time I was describing is the 1st century in Jerusalem, as it struggled under the rule of the Roman emperor, but it sounds in some ways a lot like our nation today.
As I ponder the birth of Jesus during this season of rancor and anxiety about the events unfolding around us, it occurs to me that we, the Church, have been here before. We have been fearful and anxious over problems large and small, personal and political, local and global…forever. In the biblical stories, we know it’s so because we hear this phrase repeated over and over: “Be not afraid.”
The significance of Jesus’ birth into difficult circumstances reminds us that Advent is a time of reflection on the role that Jesus’ teachings and his love have in our lives. Faith teaches us to do whatever we can to make the world more peaceful in our spheres of influence, small or large, but to ultimately focus our gaze on the light of that guiding star and the experience of God at work in our lives.
Thanks to our faith, we know how to love, in defiance of hate. We know how to forgive, undeterred by insult. We know how to welcome the outcasts and marginalized, despite social pressure (and social media!). We’ve got this!
As Matt Rawle wrote, “The Advent season plays with our notion of time. The church gathers in the present to ponder the past for a future hope.” We’ve learned from the past, and we can influence the present, so the future will become a place of hope for everyone. …
Peace be with you. Be not afraid!
Republished by permission from Tidings newsletter of Yardley UMC