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Sermon December 18 2022

Advent 4 A 2022 Sermon Do Not Be Afraid

Matthew 1:18-25 


Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

I want to tell you something about myself, something you may not know about me.  Here it is.  I am afraid of snakes.  Yes, I am terrified of them.  And I don’t mean a little scared. Snakes scare the dickens out of me, and I try to avoid them by all means.  

My only consolation is that I know that snakes are probably just as terrified of me as I am of them. 

Fear.  We all have things we are afraid of.  Children fear things that go bump in the night.  Parents fear that one a.m. phone call when their teenage children are out.  Hospital patients fear the results of their medical tests as they wait for them to be processed. 

Yes… we all have fears.  And the thing about it is that fear can paralyze us, and take control of our lives, and mess with our minds. 

I don’t know where you fall on the spectrum of fear right now, but as we continue our Advent journey, please listen to what the Angels have to say concerning fear and know that you do not have to be afraid. 

Now, I know that this is a tough thing to do.  Fear is a powerful emotion.  And fear has been with humanity for a long time. 

The Bible informs us that when Adam and Eve experienced fear for the first time, it was such a powerful emotion that they tried to hide form God.  Adam said to God “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 

In the Book of Genesis, we learn that Adam and Eve became instantly afraid when they disobeyed God and sinned for the first time.  They suddenly were afraid of God, and they became afraid of the consequences of their sin, and they feared for their future.  And this fear has been passed down throughout the generations and is present in our lives today. 

But thankfully the Bible informs us that God has an answer to our fears.  And God has told humanity many times that we do not need to be afraid.  During the Advent and Christmas Season we hear several examples of God reaching out to humanity to calm our fears. 

The angel Gabriel told Zechariah and Mary not to be afraid.  An angel told Joseph not to be afraid to take Mary as His wife.  A host of angels told the shepherds not to be afraid because they have been chosen to be the recipients of Good News of great joy that will be for all people.  

Just when fear was about to take control of the lives of these people, God reached out to them and assured them that He was in control and that they need not be afraid. 

And God explained why in simple terms why they need not fear.  An angel said to Zechariah “Do not be afraid, God has heard your prayer.”  An angel said to Mary “Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God.”  An angel said to Joseph “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife because Mary is bearing the One who will save all people from their sins.”

An angel said to the shepherds “Fear not, for, behold I bring good tidings of great joy, which shall be for all people.  For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”  And the point being, God never tells us not to be afraid without giving us a reason not to be afraid 

And the same is true for you and for me.  God sent His Son to die for us to take away all our sin, so we do not need to be afraid.   Think about it.  What can our enemies do to us?  Nothing.  What can sickness, disease or injury do to us?  Nothing.  How can the future harm us? It can’t.  Jesus told the criminal next to Him on the cross “Today you will be with me in paradise.”  

Jesus Himself has told us “Fear not… for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.”  So have no fear.  God is with you.  God has taken care of everything.  And now, you can look forward to the day when fear comes to a screeching halt. 

You can look forward to the day when cancer has no power over you.  You can look forward to the day when the problems of this world go away.  You can look forward to the day when there will be no more weeping and wailing because fear will be no more.

You can look forward to the day when “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling will be together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox” 

“The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on my holy mountain for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”  Isaiah 11:6-9 

We all can look forward to the day when we will live in a place free of fear, sadness, and worry.   Yes, there will even be a day when I will no longer be afraid of snakes. 

Jesus, the One born in a manger, has power over all things.  You need not be afraid.  You may struggle with your fear, but as Moses told the Israelites before he died “It is the Lord who goes before you.  He will be with you; he will not leave or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.” 

This is the Good News for us on this Fourth Sunday of Advent.  Do not be afraid.  Instead, hear the Word of the Lord, and take comfort in the News “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name Him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”’  

Let us pray:  God of grace, you chose the Virgin Mary, full of grace, to be the mother of our Lord and Savior.  Fill us with your peace, calm our fears, and give us the courage to put our trust in you.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.