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“Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand; ponder nothing earthly minded, for with blessing in his hand, Christ our God to earth descendeth…”
Once upon a life when I was an actor, in college and a short stint in NYC, I developed a recurring case of nerves right before I would go on stage. Immediately before my cue, I would begin coughing uncontrollably and gag on nothing but anxiety. My castmates would whisper, “Are you okay? Can you go on?” It was so odd because I was not afraid to speak or perform in front of large groups. In fact, once the lights hit me as I emerged from the shadows offstage, every symptom would completely vanish. Any anxiety would immediately be transformed. I would suddenly find the joy of performing, new energy in interacting with my audience, and immense pleasure for providing others laughter and entertainment.
Like my standing offstage waiting to go on, the first line of this hymn notes our standing with fear and trembling while waiting for Christ. This may seem counter-intuitive since we long for Christ to come; however, during my acting days, I discovered that simply expecting can inadvertently cause fear and anxiety. It’s very human. However, the hymn follows fear and trembling with the invitation to ponder things beyond us, heavenly things, Godly things. When we look out in faith, our fear and trembling can be transformed, and we can step out onto the stage of life with joy, knowing that Jesus is soon to greet us there in a tight embrace of love and hope.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, hear my fears in anticipation and continue to assure me of the love and hope that awaits me. Amen.