On the surface, the angel’s words to Joseph seem to be words of comfort, ease and solace. How often do we wish for someone to calm our own fears and erase our worries? But what follows is nothing short of a command to prophetic action. Joseph is asked to risk his reputation, defy custom and trust the impossible.

And what about us? We live in fearful times filled with terrorism, police brutality, violence, racism, and the list goes on. But, in the midst of this world, the angel also calls to us,

“Do not be afraid
to welcome the stranger,
to condemn injustice,
to speak truth in the halls of power,
to make peace in the midst of violence.”

We also are commanded to prophetic action. And, with our response, we can participate in bringing Emmanuel to birth in this broken and aching world.

—Megan Kennedy-Farrell  is Foundation and Community Relations Coordinator at Charis Ministries in Chicago. She lives in Evanston with her husband and two children.