When my daughter was two years old, I buckled her in the car for what I thought would be a fun adventure. Emily had never been through a car wash—the kind where you put the car in neutral and it’s guided through a tunnel as machines soap, brush, rinse, and wax your car clean.
In the rearview mirror, I watched her wide-eyed gaze start with a look of wonder, shift into worry, and devolve into panic as she finally burst into tears. She was terrified.
“Emily, don’t be afraid,” I said. “We’re safe. It’s almost over.” She calmed, but I know that she was glad when we reemerged into the sunlight.
In today’s passage we meet an unmarried peasant girl with no formal education or community standing. She must have felt powerless. How could the angel say to her, “Don’t be afraid?”
Long ago, God promised David: “Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever” (2 Sam 7:16). David believed that God would do this, even if the beloved king wouldn’t live to see it. Hearing this promise filled David with courage.
When God said Mary would bear a son who would be “the Son of the Most High,” whose kingdom would never end, she trusts God to do this. Through Mary’s son Jesus, God fulfills God’s promise to David.
How often did Mary return to that first angelic promise? Did she recall it as she faced scandal or heartbreak or the horrific sight of her son on the cross? God’s promise must have given Mary enormous confidence to face her fears.
To not be overcome with fear, we need to know, trust, and remember what God has promised to do. What God promises, God accomplishes.
What frightens you today? What do you remember about God’s work in us?
God, help me remember what you have promised to do in my life. Help me to trust in you and to not be afraid. Amen.