Before the birth of John the Baptist, an angel visited his father, Zecheriah. Scripture tells us Zecheriah was “griped with fear”. (Lk. 1:12) It’s the same fearful reaction to an angel we again see in Mary. And the shepherds. In all three of these Christmas encounters, the thought must have later occurred to them: If the King’s messengers are this terrifying, how terrifying is this King?
Solomon wrote the “fear of God is the beginning of wisdom”, (Prv. 9:10) but this fear is as unique to God as God Himself. It’s not a servile fear a prisoner feels for his captor, it’s a reverent fear of respect. Like fearing a running chainsaw in your hands. Or sitting on the back of a racehorse for the first time. Or stepping into a high-voltage enclosure. It’s fearing a power that can be both extremely helpful and extremely dangerous.
This year, rethink the way you Christmas and fear.
The awesome power of the Most-High God is approaching you. This is not a power to handle haphazardly. This is a power to touch with trembling hands. Consider his unrivaled power. His unblemished holiness. His anger for the sin you harbor in your heart. Fear the Lord because it’s only by “the LORD’s great love we are not consumed.” (Lam. 3:22)
When you prepare for Christmas with fear, you’ll understand why the shepherds quake at the sight.
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
What does today’s reading tell you about people? (Yourself and others.)
What does today’s reading tell you about God?
How do these ideas change the way you Christmas this year?