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The world is scary, but fear not

We belong to the child of Christmas

By Vernon S. Broyles III | Presbyterians Today

Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong — body and soul, in life and in death — to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ … . — The Heidelberg Catechism, 4.001

We live in a scary world. Every morning, the news is filled with stories of natural disasters, carnage on roadways and diseases that we have not yet found a way to control. The beat goes on, and the reality of our own finitude is too intense to deny.

It is a rare edition of our morning news that is not dominated by reports of killings, here in the U.S. and around the world. Some are random results of street violence. Others are calculated murders born of ethnic and religious hatred.

Most of these acts are facilitated by the availability of handguns and military-style semi-automatic weapons to almost anyone who has the money to buy them. Legal or illegal, it matters not. The results are the same.

Every parent in this country who sends a child to school in the morning cannot help but do so with trepidation. Even people of faith, especially if they are Jewish, Muslim or of other faiths not generally understood in the U.S., cannot go to worship without at least a subliminal fear of an attack on their congregation by someone warped by racist or ethnic bigotry. It even seems that our shopping malls and other places where people collect in numbers are no longer safe, either.

Unfortunately, our response to these fears is most often to mirror the reality we see, by increasing the presence of weapons in the hands of “the good guys.”

The harsh reality, of course, is that no place on earth is safe. As we enter the Advent and Christmas season, we who are Christians are called to celebrate the coming of the One who is the only answer to our fears, whatever they are.

It is a blessed season in which we are called to put aside all our earthly fears, no matter how substantive they may be, and to celebrate an everlasting hope that reaches far beyond all those earthly anxieties. It is not predicated on human definitions of safety. It is not cloaked in promises of absolute safety in the real world in which we live.

It is far more than that.

It is the eternal promise voiced by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans:

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Romans 8:38–39

Rejoice and be at peace, facing danger of every kind with the confidence echoed in the very first question of the Heidelberg Catechism, which was written in 1563 and asks: What is our only comfort in life and death? We belong to our faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.

Yes, we belong to the child of Christmas — the King of kings and Lord of lords — who reigns forever!

Vernon S. Broyles III is a volunteer for public witness in the PC(USA)’s Office of the General Assembly.

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