Do Not Be Afraid

“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Dear People of St. David’s,

Some of you may or may not know that my wife, Marissa, and I are expecting our first child. As I am writing this letter, she is currently twenty-five weeks pregnant. I’d also be remiss not to mention that Marissa being pregnant is somewhat of a miracle. We have struggled for three years to have a child. Along with that struggle came two-and-a-half years of IVF (In vitro fertilization) treatment until we were finally able to celebrate a successful transfer, and a pregnancy that we pray will continue to be full of joy and excitement. The journey of infertility is a difficult one. We’ve come to learn through this experience that so many others have walked a similar path. It’s been comforting to know that we have not been alone. Sharing our journey with others has allowed many to come forward to both me and Marissa, telling us about their own struggles to have a child. It makes you realize how much of a gift it is to be a parent, no matter if it is through a natural birth, IVF, or adoption.

So, this Christmas is particularly special, because as we celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas day, we also celebrate the gift of more life to come in our future son. It’s a feeling that is difficult to describe. In my prayer life, I have been focusing on the Annunciation of Mary. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.” The first thing Mary does is to visit her relative, Elizabeth. Elizabeth has experienced infertility and was considered barren, but she too was pregnant with a child. When Mary entered the home of Elizabeth and Zechariah to tell them the good news, Elizabeth’s child leaped for joy in her womb.

I believe that Mary went to Elizabeth for a reason. She needed to be with someone who knew what she was experiencing. Mary just heard startling news that although she was a virgin, she would give birth to the son of God. It’s not exactly your average pregnancy. Elizabeth, although not pregnant with the son of God but pregnant with John the Baptist, was not experiencing an average pregnancy either. She was old in age and barren for her entire life. It was a miracle that either would be pregnant at this stage of their lives.

In my prayer life, I’ve been holding onto that image of uncertainty and fear that these two women must have been feeling. What a gift that they could be in that together. Though it was a time of uncertainty, there was still JOY. Elizabeth’s son leaping with joy in the womb because he felt the Holy Spirit working within Mary.

It’s the same joy that we feel today as we continue celebrating the birth of Jesus in this season of Christmas. As human beings we all experience fear and uncertainty in our lives and have our own struggles that weigh us down. There is conflict and war that takes place throughout the world. However, like Mary and Elizabeth, we have each other, and we have Jesus. As Christians, we are connected through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. No matter the pain, fear, or uncertainty that consumes our lives, don’t forget about the joy of Christmas. The light and life that entered into the world in the form of a child. A son that was given to us and authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

See you all in church!

Merry Christmas,

The Rev. Thomas Szczerba, Jr.
Associate Rector