The songs and images of the Advent and Christmas season stir in many people a longing for peace and good will. But peace is hard to come by these days. Instead, violent world realities incite fear.
How can a fear-wearied world rejoice with songs of hope? How do we keep fear from taking over and destroying our capacity to love and care for each other and our neighbors with open hearts and minds?
The admonition to “fear not” appears often in Advent lectionary readings. Angels materialize at unexpected times to urge Mary, Joseph, and shepherds on a hillside not to be afraid as unfamiliar and fearful things happen in their lives. The “fear nots” of these familiar nativity scenes sing out to us in beloved Christmas carols, and children enact them in annual church Christmas plays. The Advent and Christmas season is a time to consider what we fear and to be aroused by God’s fear not.
The Canticle of Zechariah, a lectionary reading from Luke 1 for the second Sunday of Advent, also sings about the power of fear and the mysteries of God’s call to “be not afraid.” In this ancient story, Zechariah is startled when an angel announces to him that his wife, Elizabeth, is to birth a son in her aging years. His skepticism becomes speechlessness. Zechariah is silent for many weeks, until his and Elizabeth’s child—John the Baptizer—is born and his silence gives way to a fear-not song of freedom and fearless worship. This poem-prayer for the Second Sunday in Advent is based on Zechariah’s… [Read more…] about Advent Two: Longing for Sunlight and Song