Commentary: Don’t Be Afraid
We need a robust chorus of angels singing from the heavens imploring us to not be afraid. We need to hear this word from on high, a word from God, a word that will still the trembling in our hearts as we move day in and day out through our troubled communities. Maybe we will receive such a sign when the “Hallelujah Chorus” is sung on Christmas Eve or when the children’s choir offers up its best at the holiday concert. Maybe.
Or maybe we won’t and we will have to rise on the day Jesus was born still trembling and with tears in our eyes for the young lives who will not be celebrating Christmas with us this year. Their names are already in the stars above us, lives ended by police officers who will not face criminal charges.
This is the season of hope and of peace. With the recent release of the report of how the top leaders of our country sanctioned the use of torture following the tragedy of 9/11, it is hard to feel that hope and that peace. There will be no indictments for these gross violations of human rights, just as there will be no indictments for the officers who are responsible for ending the lives of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
It is hard to feel not afraid in a world so in need of hope, of peace, but let me offer what I experience as a sign of hope for all of us. That chorus of angels is filling the streets of Ferguson and New York. It is in the streets of Chicago and Cleveland, of Berkeley and Phoenix, in Seattle and Washington, D.C. There are choruses of young people all around us––Black, Brown, white, Pacific Islanders, Native and Asian Americans who are singing to us and showing us the world they believe is possible. “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” is the refrain.
The shepherds were at first afraid when the heavenly chorus shone above them in glorious light, but then they heard the message. We need not be afraid of the disruption to traffic and daily routines caused by today’s choruses of angels, nor of their refrain, nor of their anger and frustration. We know that anger and frustration, too. We are weary of the “same-old, same-old.”
But we can let the music of the chorus seep into our hearts. We can feel hope for the future because of the leadership of young people who are learning that democracy means engagement if it is to be protected. We can see peace in the die-ins and marches, and in their faces of solidarity. We can, perhaps, even glimpse joy that God has come and dwells among us even today, even in the ugliness of injustice, even in the midst of despair.
Do not be afraid, for God is bringing good news of great joy for all the people. For all the people. A chorus of angels is singing to us, right now. Listen!
The Rev. Loey Powell is Executive Associate to the General Minister and President of the UCC.
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