An excerpt from Philip Yancey’s book “Disappointment with God”:
We hear the words every Christmas season at church pageants when children dress up in bathrobes and act out the story of Jesus’ birth. “Fear not!” lisps the six-year-old angel, his bedsheet costume dragging the ground, his coat-hanger-frame wings flapping ever so slightly from the trembling of his body. He sneaks a glance at the script hidden in the folds of his sleeve. “Fear not, for I bring you good tidings of great joy.” Already he has appeared to Zechariah (his older brother with a taped-on cotton beard) and to Mary (a freckled blonde from the second grade). He used the same greeting for both, “Fear not!...”
These were also God’s first words to Abraham, and to Hagar, and to Isaac. “Fear not!” the angels said in greeting Gideon and the prophet Daniel. For supernatural beings, that phrase served almost as the equivalent of “Hello, how are you?” Little wonder. By the time the supernatural being spoke, the human being was usually lying face down in a cataleptic state. When God made contact with planet Earth, sometimes the supernatural encounter sounded like thunder, sometimes it stirred the air like a whirlwind, and sometimes it lit up the scene like a flash of phosphorous. Nearly always it caused fear. But the angels who visited Zechariah and Mary and Joseph heralded that God was about to appear in a form that would not frighten.
What could be less scary than a newborn baby with jerky limbs and eyes that do not quite focus? In Jesus, born in a barn or cave or laid in a feeding trough, God found at last a mode of approach that humanity need not fear. The king had cast off his robes.