Do not be afraid

George Fox recorded in his Journal this phrase that had come to him as a revelation: “There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition.” It marked a turning point for Fox, and his response was to proclaim to everyone he met that “Christ has come to teach his people Himself.”

Five Sundays from now, we enter the season of Advent. It is a season of expectant waiting for the coming of Jesus, and it’s my hope that this coming Advent season – and every season – we might remember that Jesus is here, among us. In fact, our identity as Friends is based on the particular experience of the continuing presence of Christ. Jesus has come, is come, and is yet to come. Jesus can speak to my condition, and Jesus has come to teach us.

This year for Advent, we’ve prepared Do Not Be Afraid: An Advent Reader. Each of the readings comes from past editions of Fruit of the Vine, a quarterly devotional reader published continuously by Barclay Press since 1961. The introduction to that first edition – written by T. Eugene Coffin and Arthur O. Roberts – offered meditations “in the hope that they may strengthen the spiritual life.” The spiritual life of the individual is nurtured best when we remember that because the coming of Christ brought about a new relationship between God and the individual, there is also a new relationship between God and his people.

This is what Advent is. We are gathered by God. We are guided by God. And God joins us in our waiting for God. Or as George Fox puts it, “I saw also that there was an ocean of darkness and death; but an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness.” Or as the angel of the Lord puts it, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10 NIV).

Eric Muhr