A Lenten Reminder
This is my pre-Cuba blog submission. Just something to chew on as we travel through the season of Lent.
Why are we so afraid? Why do we, as followers of Christ, let fear control us?
I have come to realize more and more how we live in fear. We are afraid of change, we are afraid of people who don’t look like us, or talk like us, we are afraid of losing out, we afraid of not being able to support ourselves and our families and I think we are becoming more afraid of our own neighbors.
I want to be clear, I am not trying to belittle anyone who is afraid. The world can be a scary place. I am not that old, but I am well acquainted with fear. When I was fourteen my family was in a terrible car accident, I know the fear of almost losing people you love. When I lived in New Orleans my house was broken into, I know the fear of not feeling safe in your own home. I have the constant low hum of fear that I will do poorly in seminary. Every couple of weeks I see classmates begin to search for a call and the fear of never being employed grows a little more in the back of my head. I know fear and the many forms it takes.
It’s easy to drown in fear, to let that very primal emotion overtake you. It’s a lot easier to hunker down in what you know, instead of extending the hand of loving kindness to the unknown. And it’s reasonable. On some biological level we have to fear things, that is how we survive. That being said, I would argue that survival and living are different things. To survive all you need is shelter, food and water. To live you need a community to support you, and in turn you support them. It’s not enough to say “What’s mine is mine, you need to figure things out on your own,” because as Christians, we have to do more than survive, we have to live. That looks a lot like saying, “What’s mine is yours, how can we figure things out together.”
We are approaching the season of Lent. On Good Friday, when you come to Eastminster to hear the story of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the Son of God share his fears about his painful death on the cross. Mark 14:35-36 says, “… he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, ‘Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet not what I want, but what you want.’” And yet, despite being afraid of what was to come, Jesus does not let the cup pass him. Instead he follows his path towards the cross and ultimately his death, assuring our redemption. What an amazing act of fearlessness! Even more amazing is that fact that Jesus didn’t die for himself, he died for us.
If we let fear control our lives, are we really living into this gift of hope, love and redemption that Jesus gave us? No, no we are not. Jesus died to forgive our sins, the least we can do is extend a hand of love and kindness to those in need. If this seems daunting, start with something small, like saying hello to someone asking for change on the side of the street. Perhaps it’s time to apologize to a friend over a disagreement. Sometimes not living in fear means standing up to someone who is being hurtful and mean spirited. Maybe you haven’t been to church in awhile and you’re afraid to come back. Sunday services start at 11 AM and I guarantee you the congregation will be happy to see your face.
We have been given an amazing gift, it is time to share that gift with others. Pray, discern, but do not let fear control your life. There’s a reason that we have sought out this place: we want to do more then survive, we want to live. So, when that fear seems to overwhelm, first remember that beautiful gift from Jesus, and if you need something more concrete reach out to someone. We are stronger together, and we can help each live each day less fearfully. The world is a scary place, it does not mean we have to live as fearful people.