Bringing the Text to Life

When Fear Gives Way to Joy Zephaniah 3:14-20

When Fear Gives Way to Joy

Fear helps us to remember that we are not alone. This, in turn, leads to hope and joy.


One hundred and 50 years ago, Phillips Brooks penned the words to a beloved Christmas carol. But the carol uses two words in the same line that seem opposed to each other: hopes and fears. How are our hopes and fears “met in thee tonight”?



For material based on today’s epistle text, see “The Prayer Project,” December 13, 2006, at


“The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more.”

—Zephaniah 3:15b.


“Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light; the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”

The line, of course, is from a beloved Christmas carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” What Christian doesn’t cherish the image of eternal light beaming from the ramshackle stable where the Christ child dozes in the arms of his mother? Who doesn’t celebrate the hope his birth ...

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