Greetings to all in the Love of Jesus Christ:
What a joy it is to witness and participate in Advent in Arizona! I am enjoying all the ways Disciples are celebrating the incarnation of God’s love, from living nativity scenes to toy and food drives, from offering “room in the inn” to those who have nowhere else to lay their heads, to las posadas – which also celebrates the offering of hospitality. I join with Disciples across the state in re-telling and celebrating the Christmas story.
But do you ever stop and wonder: “What exactly are we celebrating?” Some answers come quickly: “The birth of Christ,” “the birth of our Savior,” “God’s presence on earth.” But what does that mean, I hear many friends asking. Other than getting presents on December 25, how does that change my life?
Well, there’s no “exact” answer to the mystery of the incarnation, but I invite you to reflect with me on one aspect of the Christmas story. So much of our lives are governed by fear – way more than we are willing to admit. There are big fears: gun violence, climate disasters, cancer. But there are so many little fears: will they think I’m a bad mom; will they make fun of what I’m wearing; what if I don’t have enough? In many cases, we are prisoners to our fears – or at least we miss out on the joy of living freely and generously because we are worried about what people will think or whether we’ll have enough.
And into our fear-filled world comes an angel, saying: “Fear not.” “Do not be afraid, Mary.” “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, Joseph.” And their child grew up embodying the angel’s message. Jesus wasn’t afraid to touch lepers. Jesus wasn’t afraid to dine with sinners and tax collectors, with Roman soldiers or gentiles of anybody else. And Jesus wasn’t afraid to walk into Jerusalem when the border patrol was at its most violent, knowing full well what they might do to him. And they did it. But up until that point, Jesus LIVED. He lived freely, fully, without fear.
All of us are here for a limited time, yet we spend too much of it in fear. You might recall the words of Julius Caesar: Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, it seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come. The Christmas story invites us to enter into Jesus’ life, to live fully, freely, and without fear. Perhaps the greatest Christmas gift, if we are willing to accept it, is the gift of a life without fear, the gift of life lived fully and generously because we know God’s love is with us no matter what.
Feliz Navidad, Merry Christmas, and Dios les bendiga!
Regional Minister and President, Christian Church in Arizona
Regional Calendar of Weekly Prayers
18 – The entire Arizona Region
25 – The Worldwide Church
1 – Desert Dove Christian Church led by Interim Pastor Michael Malone
8 – Desert Heritage Church led by Pastor Derrick Elliot
15 – East Mesa Christian Church led by Pastor Charles Dubbs
22 – First Christian Church in Globe led by Pastor Al Beasley
29 – First Christian Church in Mesa led by Pastor Liz DeWeese