The Vicar's letter
Do Not Fear
Am I alone I wonder, in that the older I get, the more I worry about each new year that comes along.  What will it bring?  Are my loved ones going to survive it intact?  Will their health be okay?  What about me?  I know I shouldn't worry or be fearful, especially as a Christian... but if I'm honest, then I have to admit - that I do.
Yet I know that fear robs the mind and soul by slowly draining away our hopes and visions we hold for our lives.  No wonder one of the constant themes in the scriptures, is that we should not fall prey to fear.  God has never wanted us to fall victim to the chilling and deadly aspects of fear.  It doesn't appear to matter what the circumstances people find themselves in, God encourages us not to be afraid. Indeed, it seems that one of God's favourite themes is "Do not be afraid" or "Do not fear."  Perhaps one of the reasons God repeats this phrase as often as He does is because He knows that we so often fear circumstances that confront us in our lives and ministries.
The two phrases; "do not be afraid," and "do not fear," are spoken countless times throughout the Scripture and so we really do need to pay attention to them, and I'm talking to myself here too.  Fear can make us powerless and leads us into all sorts of foolish thinking and acting.  On first hearing, that might seem harsh, yet isn't it true that when someone acts out of fear, as often as not, they can begin acting irrationally.  Fear seems to rob us of our ability to stay calm, or to remain focused and think clearly.  I wonder if that's why the Bible speaks so often regarding this important spiritual point.  Fear must give way to faith and trust in God.
I wonder what is it that causes you the most anxiety, worry and fear?  It is a struggle we all deal with and there is no shame in admitting it.  So what is it?  What is it that you catch yourself worrying about when you find that you can't get back to sleep.  What is it that you most fear about 2018?  Try and identify what it is that tends to overwhelm you the most.  When you do that, perhaps you will have identified what it is that God wants you to surrender to Him in trust the most.  What does it mean to you, now... to hear God say "Do not be afraid" to that situation? 
Go to the heart of the struggle and sincerely place that worry, that fear into God's hands and tell Him that you want to trust Him with it, whatever the situation might be.  Trust that God is all-powerful and capable of handling every situation.  Of course, He may not change things the way you think they should be changed, but if you let Him, He is able to make your burden feel that much lighter and so enable you to move forward without the fear that can easily paralyse and confuse you.  Do not let fear dominate your life this year, trust in God and let that trust transform you.
Some scripture passages...
Even before a word is on my tongue, O LORD, you know it completely.
Psalm 139:4  (NRSV)
"Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30  (NRSV) 
And a prayer to end with that you may find useful...
Jesus, I do want to trust You and to entrust all my worries to You.  I especially turn to You with (pause and state that which cause the most fear and anxiety).  Please enter into this burden and lift it by Your gentle hand, replacing it with peace and Your inner calm. 
Jesus, I trust in You.
May God bless you in the coming days and remove all your fears,
Your friend,