Thursday, February 2, 2017

        What Are we afraid of? What are you afraid of? I am afraid of heights, and growing up, I was always afraid of fireworks. Until I was about 8, I couldn't enjoy 4th of July festivities. Silly I know, but loud noises scared me. They still do, if I am not expecting them. That’s part of why I don’t like horror movies, not so much the blood or gore, but the unexpected noises and surprises.  But we are all afraid of something. 
We read psalm 46. A psalm I have prayed at countless bedsides before surgery, at the time of death and times of grief. A simple passage that directs to not fear, to trust and hope in God; to trust in his providence, his power and his grace in even the worst of times. This psalm imperils us to trust, to trust with confidence who God is. HE is our source of refuge, our strength and very present help in times of need. 
I have sat at the bedsides of so many people in the times of need, at times when they have joined the cloud of witnesses. And it is at these times that God has spoken the words written here in Psalm 46. Be still and know that I AM GOD. I believe he says that when I sit with people at the hospital and on our healthcare unit. And I know folks hear it too at the end of their lives. If you do a quick survey of scripture, ok maybe not so quick,  and you will find that: “do not fear” is found 57 times. The phrase “do not be afraid” 46 times. Fear not in one phrase or another is in scripture 365 times. That works out to one reference for every day in the year. FEAR, will always be present. But the kicker is this. God always responds, fear not for I am WITH YOU. Scripture assures us that our days are filled with the love and the hope that we have in Christ. A love and hope that has embraced all of us, and a love that will sustain us and carry us as we continue until we meet him again. God is Love. And love is as BIG as heaven. Love is as small as the crack in our hearts that no one else sees. But Love always wins. 

          I feel like we are forgetting God's imperative to not fear, and in doing so we are forgetting the very core of what Jesus taught us. The Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke all tell us that the greatest rule that comes through the scriptures is to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbors as our self. (Mt 22:37-40, Mk 12:30-31, Luke 10:27) But Luke is the only one to tell us specifically who our neighbor is, ie the hurt, the stranger, and the outcast. And why do we forget to love our neighbor. Because of fear.
          I believe in a graceful God. Where my sin has abounded, God's love has abounded more. Even in my brokenness, God in Christ has accepted me for who I am. And it is in this grace that I have responded. God's grace is so powerful that I cannot help but to respond.
         And how should I respond? In gratitude, by Loving God. And we love God by loving and honoring our neighbors; the lost, the stranger, the outcast, those thirsty and seeking refuge.  

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