Each Advent candle we light has a word associated with it. I personally enjoy contemplating each of those words during the four weeks of Advent. This week we light the second purple, or blue, candle which is meant to represent peace.

We are too often reminded of the world’s discord, strife, tumult and fear. Fear is a natural feeling that we sometimes find manifesting with or in us—especially when we experience hurt and pain in our own lives or in the world around us. The manifestation of fear may sit so deep, in fact, that we may not even understand the role the feeling plays in our daily lives. Peace, that which we are called to contemplate this week, seems to be far afield—perhaps we do not even know what peace looks or feels like.

Often in biblical stories when God or his angelic messengers speak to humans they begin with the greeting, “Do not be afraid.” God begins the revelation of his covenant with Abram, soon to be renamed Abraham, with the words “Do not be afraid . . .”[1] The angel Gabriel announces the coming birth of John and Jesus to their mothers by stating, “Do not be afraid . . .”[2]  The angel greets the shepherds outside of Bethlehem with the words, “Do not be afraid . . .” [3]  And the angel at the tomb greeted the women who first found the resurrection of Jesus with “Do not be afraid . . .” [4]

The prevalence of the, “Do not be afraid” phrase in the Bible really cannot be overstated. It seems that whenever God comes into contact with humanity, God begins by addressing our fear. Perhaps this is because, while we cannot always comprehend the impact fear plays on our lives, God does and wants to heal it. It should not be surprising, then, when we see Isaiah write that “there will be no gloom for those who were in distress . . .[f]or to us a child is born . . .[a]nd he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.[5]  The coming of Christ, then, is the ultimate way God shows us that we have no need to fear—for God has come to dwell with us, even in the messiness of life.

[1] Genesis 15:1

[2] Luke 1:13 and 30

[3] Luke 2:10

[4] Matthew 28:5

[5] Isaiah 9