Tag Archives: Fear Not

Fear Not, We have a Savior

fear-notChristmas
December 25, 2016

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:1-20

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
   and on earth peace among those whom he favors!’ –Luke 2:8-14

The Greek word translated as fear in this scripture is phobeó that means to put to flight, to terrify, frighten*. It is the root word for the English phobia that means an exaggerated and often disabling fear usually inexplicable to the subject, occasionally having a logical but usually an illogical or symbolic object, class of objects, or situation**. Fear is a normal emotional response to a potential threat. Fear prepares our whole being for making proper responses to that which might harm us. The word phobia is descriptive of miss-channeled responses to fear by overreacting in a way that might be more harmful to us than the original threat. I know about phobias. I suffer from an illogical fear of tight places called claustrophobia. I trace it to being caught under our house when I was a child. I can talk myself out of it, but I still experience that first feeling of lack of control in some situations. I rejoiced when someone invented the open sided MRI.

There is a lot of fear going around right now. We must choose whether our response is logical or illogical, targeted toward peace on earth in all its facets or not. Today we celebrate God with Us. Today we rest in the assurance that we need now cower in illogical fear. Our Savior has come and is with us today. He calls us to use our fears to bring about peace on earth through love. More importantly, he offers his constant presence with us to help when we feel that first inkling of lack of control. God is in control.

Prayer: ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!’ Amen.

*http://biblehub.com/greek/5399.htm
**http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com/unabridged/phobia

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.

The Naivety of a Child

loaves-and-fishes-chelle-fazalLiving in the Spirit
July 25, 2015

Scripture Reading: John 6:1-21

‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?’ Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’ So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. –John 6:1-21

What is enough? It is a simple question but one about which books have been written. For we live in a world with clearly enough resources for everyone and yet The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that about 805 million people of the 7.3 billion people in the world, or one in nine, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2012-2014.* This is actually a significant drop from 18.7% in 1990-92, but 11.3% of the world being chronically undernourished remains unacceptable.

Our scripture today tells the story of a boy who grasped the concept of our interdependence on one another and offered to share his lunch. Unlike the disciples who saw the feeding of so many as hopeless, this child, in his naivety, did what he could and it was enough. He had faith in the Christ factor. When we come together in the true fellowship of love, we become more than the sum of our parts.

Our world, our country seems to be caught is the same chasm of hopelessness Jesus’ first disciples exhibited. He called them to a better way. He is still calling us to that better way today. Some form or another of the phrase “fear not” appears many times in Jesus’ teachings. It is always easier to “fear not” when there are others fearing not with us. It is called the Body of Christ in the world today when we answer the call to being one with Christ.

Prayer: Lord, grant us the wisdom of a child’s naivety as we love one another through your everlasting power of oneness. Amen.

*http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Living in an Ever Changing World

Fearof GodLiving in the Spirit
July 22, 2015

Scripture Reading: Psalm 14

Fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God.’
   They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
   there is no one who does good.  

The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind
   to see if there are any who are wise,
   who seek after God.

 They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse;
   there is no one who does good,
   no, not one.  

Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
   who eat up my people as they eat bread,
   and do not call upon the Lord? –Psalm 14:1-4

The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing, according to an extensive new survey by the Pew Research Center.* While this statement is probably not news to most of us, it somehow becomes more real when etched in black and white statistics.

What may be more alarming are the number of people who are using God as their weapon of choice in political battles. How do we discern who has called on the Lord or not when we see God’s people being oppressed in God’s name? Is it any wonder people turn away from what they perceive to be wrong? I find myself totally discounting people who quote chapter and verse out of context to prove a point. Yet I, too, struggle to understand the application of ancient scriptures in today’s world. Indeed, people have been human since their beginning and we human’s do tend to fail to learn from our past mistakes. The truth in those ancient scriptures matter and we must seek their truth.

We seem to be driven by the fear of rapid change, and forget one of those oft repeated phrases running throughout the Bible in a wide variety of contexts, “Fear not, I am with you.” While we run around being scared of every little shadow that seems to move, we fail to remember that we serve an awesome God full of wonder and grace worthy of our fear.

Prayer: Lord, we do call upon you now to guide us and undergird us with your love enabling us to be productive participants in your work. Amen.

*http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/
 All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Fear Not in a Hug

hug-your-fear-logo-72dpi-smallLiving in the Spirit
August 19, 2014

 Scripture Reading: Exodus 1:8-2:10 

The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him. ‘This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,’ she said. Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?’ Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Yes.’ So the girl went and called the child’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.’ So the woman took the child and nursed it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, ‘because’, she said, ‘I drew him out of the water.’—Exodus 2:5-10

One person rescued one child and in so doing changed the course of history. We each may have that opportunity at some time in some place. We never know when the simplest act of kindness can result in a mountain being moved.

Back in the early 1980’s my boss was diagnosed with AIDS. There was not a whole lot know about AIDS at that time and thus there was a whole lot of fear regarding it. He spent several days in the hospital with the illness that brought the condition to light and it was several days before he returned to work. By that time his condition was common knowledge throughout out building. We had had meetings with and distributed pamphlets to our staff assuring them that the disease was not contagious through normal contact. Some did not believe it. One told me that she knew it was highly contagious but that God would shield her from getting it. There was an already scheduled senior staff meeting that included about 100 people on the day my boss returned to work. I walked into the nearly full room with him when our very gregarious and loving nurse who headed our in-home care program for the elderly came flying across the room and gave my boss the biggest hug declaring for all to hear how happy it was to see him back. No angel had ever rendered “fear not” more profoundly.

I doubt if Pharaoh’s daughter had a lot of power but she had enough to keep one child safe. In a world where justice rest on a delicate ledge, we are all called to do whatever we can to keep it from failing.

Prayer: God grant me the courage to do what I can to make justice a reality throughout the world. Amen.

 

He Lives

Living in the Spirit
June 21, 2014

 Scripture Reading: Matthew 10:16, 24-39 

‘See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves….

‘So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground unperceived by your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.– Matthew 10:16, 26-31

As Christ’s servants we are sent out into a broken, scary world where people of faith fight each other and where old wounds fester and rot the very heart of those who suffer them, where promising young basketball players get shot in the crossfire of gang warfare while home from college on summer vacation, where children are shuffled across borders as refugees to save them from their own neighbors, where young women—children even—are sold as sex slaves,  and that is just the headlines from this week’s news.

Anybody in their right mind would experience fear if caught up in any of these circumstances, wouldn’t he or she? Jesus says have no fear of them…do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Jesus is calling us to live through his death into the fullness of life offered in the Kingdom of God while we live in a world torn asunder.  The only way anyone could really do that is to accept without reservation that they serve a risen savior who is in the world today*.

Prayer: Lord, remind us often that we serve a risen savior. Amen.

*Taken from He Lives by Alfred Ackley

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.