“Don’t be afraid,” the angel says in greeting. This is an important idea, easily passed over. The world would like us to be afraid. Afraid of each other, afraid of life, afraid of doing the wrong thing, afraid of illness, misfortune, and death. How many preachers try to scare you into belief? As a child I was threatened into faith with terrifying images of hellfire. But fear is never a good matrix for religion. The angel says, “Don’t be afraid.” The Greek words could be translated: “Give up your phobias.” Let’s not operate from anxiety, the angels might be saying, but from trust, hope, and a feeling of participation and connection. Let’s live into life rather than shy away from it in fear.
This is an excerpt from an unpublished chapter from Thomas Moore's book Writing in the Sand: Jesus and the Soul of the Gospels. It's an examination of the story of Jesus' birth. Thomas Moore is one of my favourite authors - get a taste yourself by downloading the whole chapter at his website.