From the UUA’s Braver/Wiser Courage and Compassion for Life As It Is

From the UUA’s Braver/Wiser Courage and Compassion for Life As It Is

Fear Not and Hallelujah

By Marcus Liefert, December 20, 2023

“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not….”
—Luke 2:9-10a

I could use an angel popping by every now and then to tell me to fear not. Instead of waking up and doomscrolling, I want each morning for my phone to alert me to a baby born. It would be sort of like an obituary in reverse:

A light-skinned Black person's arms cradle a tiny infant whose bare foot soles face the camera.

Today in San Rafael was born Ella Rae Riley.

She may, my phone would declare, with little shooting star emojis bursting across the screen, help find a cure for cancer, engineer food systems that end world hunger, or negotiate peace treaties.

Fear not, it would gently remind me: another human life has begun; another newborn messiah has been welcomed into this world.

Undoubtedly, the angel would alert me, she will touch other lives. She will care deeply, and others will feel excitement when they see her, sorrow at her absence. Perhaps she will teach children, drive buses, fight fires, steward libraries, or manage cities. Or maybe she will inspire people around the world for millennia to come by preaching a message of transcendent love and a holy vision of peace on earth.

She may, it would conclude, live a quiet life with a few close friends, a cat or maybe chickens, who depend on her to feed them each day, and a case of treasured books she turns to when the rest of the world is too much to face.

Fear not, it would gently remind me: another human life has begun; another newborn messiah has been welcomed into this world.

I’d still read the science and politics of climate change and feel my heart lurch for our planet in peril. I’d still read about police departments propping up white supremacy and high courts stripping women’s rights, or love separated by borders, our country still ruthlessly declaring: no room at the inn.

But in the back of my head, I’d also hear the angel song, imagining that miraculous life full of spectacular greatness or simple, ordinary, human wonder.

Fear not, the angels would text me.

Hallelujah, I’d write back. Hallelujah, as all of us move forward, doing the next thing that is to be done, which is about all you can ask.

Fear not, the angels say. Hallelujah, we write back. Let heaven and nature sing.

Prayer

God of newborn child and new parents, of life in the midst of winter, be with us in our fear and our joy. When the world is too much with us and worry or grief, numbing or cynicism, threaten to smother all hope of magic from our lives, bless us with the reminder that new life arrives. May our hearts open to receive it; may our hands find gifts to honor it; may our voices find songs to rejoice in it.

About the Author
A black-and-white photo of a smiling Marcus Liefert

Marcus Liefert

Rev. Marcus Liefert (he/him) serves as minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, CA. He’s a lifelong UU whose ministry was shaped by growing up at First Unitarian in Oakland, squandering his teenage years as a leader in Young Religious Unitarian Universalists, and studying at Starr King School. He is a trained leader of InterPlay, a creative community practice for unlocking the wisdom the body, and a facilitator of Restorative Circles, an approach to building justice systems rooted in anti-oppressive values.

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