Bonhoeffer writes, “We have become so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of God’s coming at Christmas that we no long feel the shiver of fear that God’s coming should arouse in us. We are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us.”
These are sort of scary words, but I believe there is hope in them. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the love of God that we forget that God comes to call us to belong to him and to serve him and to love him with heart, soul, mind and strength – everything we have. God comes to us to care for us in the way a shepherd cares for the sheep, but also to calls us to take up the shepherd’s staff and go in search of lost sheep ourselves – to share in the good work of God.
The shepherds who greeted the angel in the fields outside Bethlehem reacted with healthy fear when God chose to address them. “There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” Luke 2: 8-9. They knew an angel was not to be trifled with. An angel of the Lord could bring good news and also bring instructions. So the shepherds reacted with fear at the unknown.
I sometimes think we would do well to approach God with a little more healthy awe. We know God’s love for us is real. We know God is good. We also need to know that God has instructions for us and work for us to do. We need to listen attentively. Are you ready to really hear the words of the angels this Christmas?
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