Before the journey to Bethlehem, before the lack of adequate lodging, before the manger or the shepherds or the wise men, there was an angel speaking to a young woman. This is where our Advent story really begins. This is where the wonder and the mystery and the waiting all start. I began my Advent observance by placing an angel in the manger scene.
It was the angel, Gabriel, who delivered the good news to Mary, the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38), but angels appear throughout the Christmas story. When we think of the angel in the manger scene, we most often consider the one who appeared to the shepherds (Luke 2:8-20). An angel spoke to Joseph as well (Matthew 1:18-24).
If you read about each of these angelic encounters, you will notice a theme. Each time the angels speak, they say, “Do not be afraid.” In each case, there are plenty of reasons to be fearful. It is difficult to imagine how we might react to finding ourselves in any of these situations. But each time, there is someone there to offer reassurance. “Do not be afraid.”
That same reassurance is offered to us today, and we, in turn, can offer it to others. That’s really what HOPE is all about, right?