By Rev James McNay, West Kilbride Parish Church

What are you frightened of?

For some of us, it is the usual things - spiders, snakes and other creepy crawlies.

Some of us don't like the dark or have a fear of clowns or heights.

Some people say that they aren't afraid of anything - but I think the reality is that we are all afraid of something.

Some of us may fear the future.

Others may fear illness - or the loss of a loved one or death itself.

Now, some of the things I have listed may seem to be rational fears. Others seen as not so rational.

(If you are afraid of spiders, for example, how often have you been told: 'You are much bigger than it, it is much more scared of you than you are of it!' As if being told this really helps!!)

But the fact is, whatever our fears, they are real to us. They cause us to panic and shake and sweat.

In the Bible, God often sends his angels as messengers to speak to humankind. Think, for example, of Mary in the nativity story when the angel Gabriel appears to her.

But rather than being the cute, cuddly beings that we have presented to us in nativity plays - Mary (and others when they meet an angel!) is terrified. Hence Gabriel's opening words... 'Don't be afraid!'. Angels are terrifying!

If this is the reaction to God's messengers, what then is our reaction to God himself?

He is, of course, the loving Father looking out for his prodigal sons and daughters longing for them to come home.

But he is also Almighty God who deserves our praise, honour and respect. And yes, even our fear.

After all, as the Bible says: 'The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom'. Christians believe when we fear him and trust him, then truly we don't need to fear anything else in life (except maybe the odd spider...!).