Do Not Be Afraid
DECEMBER 13, 2015
Zephaniah 3:14-20 (Revised English Bible):
Zion, cry out for joy;
raise the shout of triumph, Israel;
be glad, rejoice with all your heart,
daughter of Jerusalem!
The LORD has averted your punishment,
has swept away your foes.
Israel, the LORD is among you as king;
never again need you fear disaster.
On that day this must be the message to Jerusalem:
Fear not, Zion, let not your hands hang limp.
The LORD your God is in your midst,
a warrior who will keep you safe.
He will rejoice over you and be glad;
he will show you his love once more;
he will exult over you with a shout of joy
as on a festal day.
I shall take away your cries of woe
and you will no longer endure reproach.
When that time comes;
I shall deal with all who oppress you;
I shall rescue the lost and gather the dispersed.
I shall win for my people praise and renown
throughout the whole world.
When that time comes I shall gather you
and bring you home.
I shall win you renown and praise
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes before your eyes.
It is the LORD who speaks.
Canticle 9, from The Book of Common Prayer, page 86:
Surely, it is God who saves me;
I will trust in him and not be afraid.
For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense,
and he will be my Savior.
Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing
from the springs of salvation.
On that day you shall say,
Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name;
Make his deeds known among the peoples;
see that they remember that his Name is exalted.
Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things,
and this is known in all the world.
Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy,
for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.
Philippians 4:4-7 (New Revised Standard Version):
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Luke 3:7-18 (New Revised Standard Version):
John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him,
You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
And the crowds asked him,
What then should we do?
In reply he said to them,
Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.
Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him,
Teacher, what should we do?
He said to them,
Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.
Soldiers also asked him,
And we, what should we do?
He said to them,
Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.
As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying,
I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.
So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
Some Related Posts:
Third Sunday of Advent, Year A:
Third Sunday of Advent, Year B:
On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry Announces that the Lord is Nigh:
Advent Prayers of Dedication:
Advent Prayers of Praise and Adoration:
An Advent Prayer: Expectant God:
An Advent Prayer: Divine Light:
An Advent Prayer: The Word of God is Near:
An Advent Prayer of Confession:
Advent Prayers of Thanksgiving:
An Advent Blessing:
An Advent Prayer: Expectant Hearts:
If anyone had a good reason to fear, an exile living in the territory of a foreign power infamous for its cruelty did. If anyone had a good reason to fear, someone living under foreign occupation did. If anyone had a good reason to fear, someone likely to suffer and perhaps die for merely being a Christian did. Yet the words of Zephaniah were comforting ones; a remnant would return one day. They did, thanks to God and the Persians. And Paul, who advised the Philippians not to worry, had suffered for his faith and became a martyr in time.
Sometimes, when we fear, we act foolishly, even cruelly, toward each other. We seek our self interests at the expense of others. We exploit each other and condone the exploitation others commit. We act as if the Golden Rule is
He who has the gold makes the rules.
All who act accordingly need to repent–to turn around, to change one’s mind.
The confidence of love is vastly superior to the uncertainty of fear and the perfidious deeds which flow from it. Yes, the world is dark and evil runs rampant. But God is doing a new thing; a great light is about to shine upon us. The world into which that light was born was one in which a tyrant killed innocents as part of an effort to murder one perceived threat. Light confronts darkness, so darkness cannot tolerate it. But, in the end, light scatters the darkness.
So may we, confident in God, act toward each other in love and compassion. It is what Jesus did.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
JANUARY 1, 2012 COMMON ERA
THE EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS
THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS, YEAR B
Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS