‘Do not be afraid’ says the Archdeacon of Derry

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Happy Christmas will be shared on December 25 between family and friends.

You have probably already been using these words to greet fellow shoppers and shop assistants. They are words that never appear in the Bible, of course, but they express a sentiment I believe to be at the centre of God’s will. He wants us to be happy and fulfilled. Christmas is the time when we celebrate how God makes that happiness possible.

If Happy Christmas doesn’t appear in our Christmas readings there are four words that do. Do not be afraid!

We hear them when Gabriel brings God’s call to Mary, when Joseph worries whether to marry Mary, when the angels bring news of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds. Do not be afraid! Many are afraid this Christmas time asking how they will face an uncertain future.

Our health, our finances, our families can all cause us to worry. The message of Christmas reminds us that even in the midst of worry joy is possible.

The Christmas message is a message of Hope! Do not be afraid, Jesus is born. God loves us and we are to love one another.

Mary and Joseph knew that their lives would never be the same when they said yes to God. Even the shepherds knew that. I’m sure they needed to return to the angels’ words often. Do not be afraid!

My hope and prayer for you this Christmas is that any shadow that your fears are currently casting over your life might be dimmed by the promise that God is with you: Emmanuel. I pray as you hear, ‘Happy Christmas’ that you may experience God’s blessing in recalling the angels’ message, ‘Do not be afraid!’ Jesus is born.

The Venerable Robert Miller,

Archdeacon of Derry

Rector Christ Church, Culmore, Muff and St Peter’s