My favorite scene in Home Alone is when Kevin McAlister goes into the church searching for answers as to how he can get his family back. He sits in a pew and quietly listens to the children’s choir sing “O Holy Night” as he notices the frightening old man who lives down the street listening also. Their situations are vastly different, in some ways, juxtaposed as one is old and the other a child – and yet they seek the same comfort: someone who loves them to give them a hug. Their beautiful interaction is a reminder that people young and old can carry with them the embrace that someone desperately needs.
The cold night can bring this need out in us: in the dark and chilly earth we need the light that a friendly hug can bring. Someone near you needs that: who amongst your neighbors needs the light you can share right now?
But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
When Israel passed through the waters of the Red Sea, the waves did not come down on them; when Daniel’s friends encountered the flames of the furnace, they weren’t burnt in the slightest. Our God is one of his word. The best part is this: you don’t need to fear, and why is that? Because he is with you – he has redeemed you. I have purchased you for myself, I have called you by name, you are mine. And it’s not a “ra ra” “buck up, bucko” speech. It can’t be, because the waves and flames will come. Instead, he is with you. We are never asked to depart from fear in our own power, but only in knowing the God who would walk the ends of this death-ridden earth for you.
It is against this dark hill that the angels cry, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace.” This is the kind of peace (God’s shalom) that trumpets joy from our hearts. Go and do. Go and radiate. Be the joy in someone’s night this night. Perfect love casts out all fear.