It started as any ordinary night would. There was nothing to distinguish this particular evening from any other- they were simply going about their business as usual. No wonder the appearance of the angel and the accompanying glory of the Lord scared them. Wouldn’t it have scared you?
Perhaps the words of the angel and the song of the heavenly host didn’t really sink in with the shepherds until the glorious presentation was over. Perhaps they continued to kneel in silent and trembling worship for several moments before they leaned back on their elbows, exhaled, and let the news wash over them. I have to wonder if the angel’s instruction for the shepherds not to fear wasn’t actually heeded until the after the angel left.
Fear is rampant in our world today. There are an estimated 15 million Americans diagnosed with some form of anxiety disorder- and countless others go undiagnosed. They suffer from endless worry over everyday issues, even when there is no cause for worry; they startle easily; they cannot concentrate; they suffer from insomnia; they suffer from chronic headaches and body aches and other unexplained pain.
But mercifully, Christmas offers an antidote for fear, and this antidote was announced by the angel when he said, “Do not be afraid; for behold I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people.” I don’t think the “do not fear” bit would have made it to press if God wasn’t aware of the depths of the fear that we His people can experience.
The delivery of this good news interrupts our status quo at a soul level, it dismantles our default of fear and anxiety, and instills in our being a quietness and confidence that replaces the noise of the “what if’s” that crowd our fearful minds. That security comes in knowing that our Savior has come to us, and that He is Emmanuel- God with us.