Advent 4: Don't Be Afraid of Love

My message series for this Advent season was "What the World Needs Now". The fourth Sunday of Advent is love Sunday, and at the church I serve as a lay worship leader, we also dedicate angels on the tree in honour of or in memory of loved ones. This year, I wrote about both love and angels, and here's part of that message: 

I want to link the scripture stories about angels with love – and the idea that every time an angel appears to someone in those ancient stories collected in the Bible, 
the first thing out of their mouth is, “Don’t be afraid!”

And why would that be?
Well, if the descriptions provided by our ancient storytellers are anything to go by, angels were not soft and pretty and gentle. 
They were ferocious! 
Full of the glory and power of God – they were big and strong, bright and loud! 

We’ve come to hear “angelic voices” as sweet and light – like children singing – but I dare say, back in the day, 
the voice of an angel would put the fear of God into people. 
Which is why, whenever they appeared, they had to say, 
“Don’t be afraid! We are the good guys!”  

And that’s the new thing I want to say about love this year – for our second “Covid Advent” and our second “Covid Christmas”: 

Don’t be afraid of love.
Don’t be afraid to show love.
Don’t be afraid to BE love. 
Don’t be afraid to BE the love that world needs now. 

Be the good guys! 
Let your living and your loving be about kindness, mercy, justice and humility.
Be grateful. Be accepting. Be welcoming. 
Be yourself – no matter what. 

We are often afraid of rejection, of confrontation, of being ignored or laughed at, or worse – mocked – when we show love, when we DO something out of love. 
We don’t want to be hurt. We don’t want to be humiliated. 
But more than ever, we need to remember the words of the angels and NOT BE AFRAID to do the right thing, do what we are called to do, do what Jesus was born to do – and that is love.

Love with all our hearts. 
Love with all our minds. 
Love with all our strength. 

No matter who laughs, who rejects, who tell us to shut up and go home – 
we must – especially NOW – 
continue to act and speak in loving ways, to show up and BE love. 
Because what the world needs now, more than ever, and forever and ever, is LOVE.

~ SJ 


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