Morning Prayer: December 9

Opening sentences:

My soul waits for the Lord
more than those
who watch for the morning,
more than those
who watch for the morning.

Call: Out of the depths I have cried to You.

Response: O Lord, hear my voice.

Call: With my whole heart I want to praise You.

Response: O Lord, hear my voice.

Call: If you, Lord, should mark iniquities:

Response: Who could stand? who could stand?
I will wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in His word do I hope.

Familiar words and promises:

When the angel came to Mary to tell her of the child she would bear, he said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary.”

Do not be afraid.

It is the most often repeated exhortation in the Bible, the thing that God commands his people to do more than anything else: Do not be afraid.

Abraham and Sara, they’re old and they’re childless, and the word of the Lord comes to them: Do not be afraid.

The Israelites are pinned between Pharaoh’s army and the Red Sea, and God speaks through Moses: Do not be afraid.

Israel is about to enter the promised land: Do not be afraid.

And then they’re exiled from the promised land because they’re disobedient: Do not be afraid.

And in the New Testament…Angels appear to Zechariah, to Mary, to Joseph, to the shepherds and every time the message begins the same way: Do not be afraid.

Jesus sends his 12 disciples out to preach as “sheep among wolves.” His charge to them? Do not be afraid.

And when the ascended Jesus, in the book of Revelation, prophesies suffering and persecution for the church, his command to them…Do not afraid.

Why? The angel tells Mary quite succinctly:

“Because no word from God will ever fail.”

Prayer: [Let’s pray together, remembering that no word from God will ever fail. We’ll use the angel’s words as a refrain. When I pray, Do not be afraid, please respond with: Because no word from God will ever fail.]

God in this advent season, when so much around us feels weighty and dark, be our light. Save us from ourselves, our own worries and doubts, the cares that weigh us down, the things that frighten us. Help us to hear the angel’s words as for us.

Do not be afraid

Because no word from God will ever fail.

God when you came, you sent before you angels. Angels who said “Do not be afraid.” We pray that we would heed their call. Help us to not be afraid, afraid of the small things…a stressful upcoming week of back to back exams and presentations and papers and grading…or afraid of the big things, stories of violence, disease, war, and on and on that plague the news, our world, our communities, our friends, our own selves. May we not be afraid of the powers and principalities and people who wage war on our souls and minds. May the angel’s words be our words.

Do not be afraid

Because no word from God will ever fail.

Open our eyes to the immense love you have for us and the great lengths to which you went for us so that this Christmas, when we look in the manger we might actually see you there—a tiny child, God of the universe, Glory come down to meet us with all humility, grace, power and love, to save us, to keep us from all fear and free us from all darkness.

And in seeing you there, in remembering your love and your great humility, may our souls somehow be renewed, emboldened. May we remember the hope that we have, even now, in busy times, in sad times, in times of chaos and violence.

Because we long for hope and peace and strength and joy, we really do pray that the angel’s words would be words that sink deeply into hearts and our minds:

Do not be afraid

Because no word from God will ever fail.



God go before you to lead you, God go behind you to protect you, God go beneath you to support you, God go beside you to befriend you. Do not be afraid. May the blessing of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be upon you. Do not be afraid.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Amen.