Angels’ Song

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Stories of spooky encounters with beings from another realm seem more in line with the traditions of Halloween than Christmas, but as the Christmas story unfolds in the opening paragraphs of Luke’s Gospel we find three instances of an otherworldly being suddenly and unexpectedly materializing out of the unseen realm much to the terror of his human audience. First, an angel appears to Zechariah as he is serving in the temple, then to Mary and lastly to a group of shepherds outside Bethlehem. In each instance fear rose reflexively in the hearts of the humans who experienced these unexpected visitations. Thus, in response to their fear the angel repeats the phrase three times, “Do not be afraid” (Luke 1:13, 30 and 2:10).

Before the angel could deliver the “good news of great joy” that he had been sent to share he had to first address the bitter reality of the bad news of why these human beings had reason to fear God. In 1 John 4:18 we read, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment.”

Fear has to do with punishment.

“Do not be afraid,” said the angel.