I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4
The Angel said to him, “Do not be afraid Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard" Luke 1:13
Now that it is near Christmas, many of us think about angels. There are lots of angels in the Bible, especially in the Christmas stories. We see angels coming and announcing Christ's birth to the shepherds. An Angel comes to Mary to tell her she will have a child. Angels speak to Joseph, telling him not to worry about Mary’s pregnancy. Then our verse from Luke for today is about an Angel coming to Zechariah.
Angels must look a little scary. What does the angel say first? Actually, what do the angels often say before delivering their message? Zechariah, do not be afraid. There he is in the temple doing whatever duties it is that the priest does that day. Nothing to worry about, as he includes prayers that he and Elizabeth could have a child. When the angel Gabriel shows up, Zechariah is very afraid. Verse 12 says: “He was startled and gripped with fear.” But the angel calms his fears. The angel tells Zechariah that God has heard this prayer and is answering it; they will have a son and are to name him John. Of course Zechariah doesn’t quite believe this, and loses the ability to speak.
As expressed in Psalm 34, David certainly had fear and anxiety. His enemies were all around him. A Philistine king Abimelech was after him. In the midst of all kinds of tribulation and trial. David sought the Lord, and the Lord answered him. Psalm 34 expresses thanks for deliverance from fear, and invites all to sing in joy to celebrate God’s gracious work to calm our fears. Certainly we have lots of fears and anxiety. For many people, this time of year is not full of joy and happiness. They hear the hymns; they hear the songs, and struggle to find joy in their lives. We may be anxious about any number of things from prices of food and clothes to travel, to illness and so much more. Busy as we might be, advent is a time to slow down a bit, and pray to our Lord for help. Just as we see with David and Zechariah, God listens, sometimes sends angels, and can calm our fears.
God of unimagined glory, your word says that in Christ all your promises are met. Gracious Lord, May the trust we place in your presence in our life be the foundation upon which we stand. When we have fear and anxiety, helps us to hear your words of promise for us. When we cannot release our fears help us to act in spite of them we trust in your mercy and power for you are our loving and merciful God. May your angels calm our fears. Amen.