My life in 10 verses: They look up

Over the past few days some of my friends in the Sacred Heart family have been sharing daily scripture texts on Facebook, then challenging others to follow suit, for ten days. Some have illustrated their verses with photos or added a short explanation of why these words speak to their hearts, or the person or event with which they associate them. Today the challenge was passed on to me, and I'm beginning the challenge with a blog post: I can't guarantee that I'll manage this every day, but I'll do my best to share all the verses here as well as with my Facebook friends.

I decided it would be fun to do this chronologically, tracing my life through ten verses. So I set out to remember what must have been the first verse of scripture of which I was consciously aware in my life. Not bible stories, or words of scripture contained within hymns and prayers, all of which filled my childhood; no, I wanted to remember which words first came to me, unadapted, even if they were not fully comprehended.

And I have indeed remembered! I was nearly seven when I was given the part of the angel in the class nativity play. I was probably cast because I was a good reader with a clear voice; certainly, the script - which may have been written with slightly older children in mind - required good literacy, at least as far as the angel was concerned. I cannot remember how I fared with the full glad tidings of great joy speech, but I do remember the opening line. Nobody had explained the concept of stage directions to me: thus, at our first rehearsal, and to my utter confusion, I unwittingly managed to annoy the teacher by solemnly proclaiming

Fear not shepherds (they look up)...

Fear not... do not be afraid... These words are threaded throughout scripture. Do not be afraid, says God to Israel through Isaiah, for I am with you... I have redeemed you... And do not be afraid, say angels to Mary and Joseph, and later to the shepherds, assuring them of God's presence and favour. Do not be afraid... said Jesus, as he walked across a storm to a boat being battered by the waves; it is I. And those were the first, gladdening, reassuring words heard by the women at the tomb, from both the angels and the Risen Jesus. 

And whether scripture says this or not, I am sure they all looked up; mystified maybe, but heartened and reassured nonetheless. How could they not raise their heads in unison with their hearts?

In these uncertain, unnerving, dystopian times in which we find ourselves, we need to be heartened and reassured; to lift ourselves, our spirits and hearts, and keep being lifted from fear and futility. May we too hear those consoling, fortifying words and be filled with hope and strength... Do not be afraid... and may we take heart and look up, seeing the One who comes and remains every day, fulfilling God's promise. May we fear not... and look up.