Luke 1:8-12 – The angel Gabriel appears to Zechariah 

Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him.

Leafless tree in the desert @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario

This has been a deeply fearful year: international tensions have risen on a number of fronts, while domestic terrorism has surged, hurting Toronto communities as well as others in the US and Europe. Depressingly, many politicians around the world seem comfortable with this state of affairs, even inflaming fears to suit their own ends. Yet God sees our fear, and throughout the Bible sends us a consistent message of reassurance: “do not be afraid.” God is with us – may be not physically, as for Zechariah – but God stands by our side each day, as we tackle the challenges in our lives that may make us fearful. God strengthens us and supports us, in our hearts and through those who walk beside us; while the teaching of Jesus encourages us to live positively and confront fear in this life, rather than to be fearful as we approach the next.

All-powerful God, be with us in these confronting times. Sustain us as we face each day and the challenges it can bring. Strengthen us to see the world through your eyes, and to recognize where we can make a difference in our communities. Give us the courage to step forward in faith, seeking to do Your will. Amen.

Thank you for joining us on this prayerful path through Advent.
Blessings and best wishes for 2018.

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