So begins the famous Luke 2 soliloquy in “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown.” In recent years, the internet has been noticing something: the point at which Linus drops his security blanket. “Fear not,” says the angel, and the blanket falls to the floor, unheeded.
One of Jesus’ ancestors knew something about fear – the patriarch Jacob. And interestingly, there are several points of contact between his story in Genesis 32, and the birth of Jesus.
Someone was “so afraid.” The shepherds were frightened upon seeing the angel. Jacob was also terrified, on his way back to the land of his birth, from where his brother Esau was heading his way with a troop of 400 men. In fact, Jacob asks God to rescue him from Esau, for, he says, “I am afraid of him, afraid he’ll come and attack me…!”
Messengers were sent. In Luke 2, God sent angels with a message for the shepherds, good news for all people. The angels were God’s emissaries to bring the birth announcement. Jacob sends messengers with presents to soften up Esau. The word for messengers in Hebrew is malachim, which also means angels.
The Face of God
Jacob called the place where he wrestled with the angelic messenger “Peniel” meaning “Face of God.” The shepherds left their flocks in search of the baby, met him face to face, and then Luke tells us they returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen. And his mother kissed the face of God, which should leave us flat on our faces with awe.
Colossians 1:15 tells us that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. He is not “in the image of God” – he IS the image of God.
Every other person on earth is created in the image of God. They are worthy of our love, our care, our kindness and respect, yes, even our enemies, as Jesus told us, when he said to love and pray for them. May the Lord give us His eyes to see His image in others, no matter how marred or hidden. And as we love them, may we become more like Him, reflecting His image to the world.
In our faces, may they see His face.
So fear not. We do not have to be afraid, and can drop our “security blankets.” Because of Christ, we can have peace and hope instead of fear.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
“…for I am with you.” Immanuel, God with us. And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown!