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Choir Wed. 6:30PM
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  Sunday Worship 8 & 10:30AM
  Sunday School begins 9:15AM
  Wednesday - Evening Prayer 6PM


Be Not Afraid!

"And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, 'Be not afraid!" Luke 2:8-10

Shepherds gathered round a fire, warming themselves on a cold clear winter's night. Winged angels in flowing white gowns float in the starriest of skies. A bright shining star, breaking the power of night hangs over the little village of Bethlehem in the distance. We can see the child with sparkling eyes cooing in the manger, the smell of hay, and the quiet munching of several peaceful farm animals. This is scene we see in our minds.

But this scene leaves out a key word that haunts this night: fear. Luke writes about fear in the night; the shepherds fear and a birth, Matthew relates, that will stir the fear of Herod so profoundly that he will murder the sons of Bethlehem.

The Shepherds certainly knew fear. They were nearly outcasts in their society. So untrustworthy were they judged to be that they were not allowed to testify in court. They lived under Roman occupation. Troublemakers quickly found their way to the torturers, and many suffered a naked death on the cross. It was not a Christmas card world for the shepherds.

Then an angel appeared in the night sky. Then suddenly more of these shining, magnificent beings appeared in the night sky over the hills near Bethlehem. Such an appearance was dazzling and terrifying (Shock and awe in our current vernacular). The shepherds, says Luke, were "filled with fear."

And what are the angel's first words to the shepherds? They are among the most important, if most ignored, found anywhere in the Bible: "Be not afraid." These words the angel said to Mary when her pregnancy began, and again to Joseph when he hesitated to marry a woman who had become pregnant before the wedding. Several times, Jesus said the same thing to his disciples, “Be not afraid."

Fear cripples our response to those around us, numbing us to their needs, blinding us to our brothers and sisters, as children of God no less than ourselves. It is fear that drives some to dominate others, and fear that forces others into submission. "The root of war," said Thomas Merton, "is fear."

We have made the Christmas angel into an ornament and the choir of angels into a chorus line. We eat, drink and sing with bucolic images, enjoying a brief vacation, tranquilized from our fears. But Christmas is not meant to be a time to evade our fears but to wrest them from the powerful grip they have on our lives.

Christmas is our time to stand with the shepherds, and open ourselves to that angelic invitation to disarmament: to let down our fears, take off the helmet, breastplate and shield; drop the (sword) or gun that too often ends up in our hand. Once freed, we are no longer obliged to hate our enemies. Instead, we might begin to obey our Lord's command to love our enemies. We might visit them, learn their names, read their books and see their films, pray in their churches, synagogues, and mosques. We might at last see them as human beings, not labels; as children of God; not things to fear.

A spiritual master asked his disciples on day, "How can you know when night has ended and the day has begun?" One disciple said, "When you can tell the difference between a sheep and a dog?" "No," said the master. Another disciple asked, "Is it when you can see the difference between an olive tree and a fig tree?" "It is the moment, when any person walks over the hill, and you know that stranger is your brother or sister. Until then, no matter how bright the sun shines, it is still the night."

"Come Thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us let us find our peace in thee."



Peace

+Jeff



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© June 2014 by The Rev. Jeff Douglas


St. Thomas is a vibrant, welcoming, Christian community cultivating mind, body & spirit through worship, fellowship, and service, loving our neighbors as ourselves

The Rev. Jeff Douglas, Rector

Our Staff:
       Musician:
       Jonathan Johnston
       Secretary:
       Lisa Forbes

Our Vestry:
       Bubba Peele,Sr. Warden
       Jim Shotwell, Jr. Warden
       Barbara Outland, Clerk
       Ernie Carter,Treasurer
       Jamie Johnson
       Lindsay Vaughan
       Gretchen Simons
       Hugh Davis
       Patsy Jones
       Daniel McCamish

Parish Committees:
       Parish Hall:
       Bubba Peele
       Events:
       Barbara Outland
       Kitchen:
       Ernie Carter,
       Mary C. Pierce
       Garden Committee:
       Charles & Lois Sawyer
       Bazemore Garden
       Planning Committee:

       Martie Tayloe,
       Colin & Patsy Jones,
       Gretchen Simons,
       Dicky & Becky Hoggard
       Lobster Feast:
       Jim & Linda Shotwell

WORSHIP
       Altar Guild:
       Mary C. Pierce        Acolytes:
       Charles Sawyer
       Flower Guild:
       Ernie Carter,
       Martie Tayloe,
       Patsy Jones

EDUCATION:
       Adult Sunday School:
       Carolyn Peele
       Children's Sunday
       School:

       Gretchen Simons
       & Beth Douglas

PASTORAL CARE:
Becky Hoggard,
Vicki Blandchard
& Jerrie Taylor

LONG RANGE MAINTENANCE PLANNING
       Patsy Jones
       Jim Shotwell
       Jamie Johnson
       Jack Tayloe
       Mike Steczak

RECTOR'S COMPENSATION COMMITTEE:
       Bubba Peele
       Ernie Carter
       Daniel McCamish
       Gretchen Simons

If you would like to volunteer or have ideas about how St. Thomas' can have a more effective ministry in these areas, contact the appropriate person and make St. Thomas' ministry even better.