A recent trip to see family included some special time with my two grandsons, ages 3 and 5. As a full day of playing came to an end, I found myself just sitting close to the littlest one, Pierce.
Dusk had fallen and the light was quickly saying goodbye as shadows made their entrance.
As the night air grew cooler, I snuggled a little closer to Pierce, thinking he might be chilly.
I don’t know exactly what he sensed, whether I let out a sigh or some other signal. In any case, Pierce turned his head, looked up at me and gently exclaimed, “Don’t be scared, Grandpa. I am here. Don’t be scared. I am here.”
I first thought he was simply trying to assure me that I hadn’t lost sight of him, or forgotten where he was. But I then realized that he thought I was afraid, and he was trying to comfort me. He was letting me know that everything was OK because he was close by.
As one who claims the name of Christ-follower, those words “Don’t be scared, I am here” resonate in a special way this time of year as we come to the celebration of Christmas.
For even as days indeed are shorter, the light retreating sooner, and staying away longer, as the news is filled with tragedies, announcements of shootings, and death and the dehumanization of so many for such incredible reasons, it can be a fearful time.
Yet the message of Christmas for us believers is that God chose not to be God without us, but rather came close, became like us, in the way we became human, so that we might in some mysterious way hear God say “Don’t be scared, I am here.”
In the celebration of the birth of Christ at Christmas, we remember and celebrate that God kept God’s promise to always be with us. In Christmas, God broke through into human reality to demonstrate the extent of God’s love for each of us.
With such a God, who showed in such a remarkable way that God thinks the world is worth saving, we can face anything and everything without fear. For despite all that might challenge us, discourage us and threaten us, nothing, not even death, can separate us from the love of God, love that came down in the child born at Bethlehem.
This Christmas and beyond, may you live without fear, for God is near!
Pete Berntson is the pastor of Church of the Palms United Methodist Church in Okatie.