The Advent Song / by Chris Pollock

Psalm 97, Isaiah 43.1-13, Luke 1.67-80*

By Rev. Michaele LaVigne

Fear is a big thing with God; have you noticed? Gongs of calamity ring out all over the place in scripture and today – destruction, hopelessness, exile, oppression and injustice are seemingly everywhere.

But a consistent, gentle refrain weaves its way through the clashing gongs and clanging cymbals:

Fear not.
Fear not.
Fear not.
For I am with you.

Last night, a strange electronic beeping song was stuck on repeat somewhere in the vicinity of my backyard. It wasn’t annoying as much as it was puzzling. I couldn’t tell what was making the sound or where it was coming from, and it made me strain to hear it all the more. It didn’t take much time before that sound took on a life of its own in my head. Although I had never heard its short melody before, I was trying to make it into a song, putting words and a story to it. Every other sound I heard fit into it as some kind of strange urban symphony, horns and train whistles acting as percussion.

The Advent song “Fear Not” is like that. It’s one of those melodies that when you listen to it long enough, it takes up residence in your mind. Before long all other sounds either blend into it or are quickly dismissed.

Fear not.
Fear not.
Fear not.
For I am with you.

The world is a fear-filled place. And even though we expect God to come in as one who burns up all his (and our) enemies (Psalm 97.3), he comes in quietly beside us, whispering that we are not alone. Maybe this is what it means for God to come to us not in the way we expect, but in the way we need.

In Zechariah’s song (Luke 1.67-80), he praised God for bringing salvation that would enable God’s people to serve him without fear. May it be so. May the song of Advent rise up in us, and may we be people who will not fear.

This is our prayer:

Jesus, you who have come and will come again, please come to us now. In silence we will wait for you. In moments of solitude we will watch or you breaking into our very souls and into our world. Come, Lord Jesus, come. Teach us not to fear. Help us know that you are with us. Sing your refrain over us so that our hearts are filled with its sound:

Fear not.
Fear not.
Fear not.
For you are with us.

Amen.

*Scripture readings for the first week of Advent from A Guide to Prayer. Copies of this devotional guide are available for $15 on Sunday evenings, or are available online.