Rev. Valarie Englert, Senior Pastor
Steven Charleston, a retired Episcopal bishop and spiritual elder in the Choctaw Nation, asked a question over social media awhile back that has had me musing and pondering ever since.
He asked: “If you got your 15 minutes of fame, which today would probably be closer to your 15 seconds of fame, and you could use those seconds to share one message with the world, what would you say? What do you think humankind needs to hear the most?”
Given a 15-second global microphone, Bishop Charleston would say: “do not give in to fear. I think fear is at the root, the deep root, of what is driving our battered world. If we can diminish fear, we can increase hope.”
I think the bishop is on to something.
The biblical witness offers God’s words to “not be afraid” in many places (Psalm 27:1 and Isaiah 12:2 are two examples among many); Jesus spent a lot of time asking his disciples to have faith and not be afraid (Matthew 10:31 and Luke 12:32 are two beautiful passages).
We have a lot to be afraid of, don’t we?
A pandemic that just won’t calm down; escalating climate change; a deeply divided nation; denominational and congregational change; change with a capital “C,” period.
So many cultural forces pander to our fears, making us feel unprepared or ashamed (or both) if we don’t hedge against the worst, building fortresses to try to keep the thing we’re afraid of out, or at least at bay.
But there’s this thing about fear.
When we are really afraid, we retract, coil up, tighten.
Fear can literally restrict our breathing.
When we give in to fear, it compromises our faith and our ability to trust that God’s got this.
Through the power of the Spirit, we can handle anything the world throws at us.
We may not like what the world is throwing at us, but the Holy Spirit helps us to stand firm, breathing the God-given free air of grace and abundance.
Trusting in God’s presence doesn’t mean that we won’t suffer; the witness of God-in-Christ tells us we will indeed suffer.
But in the midst of hardship and suffering, God is with us, providing a way through the sea, a way through the fire, a way through the desert.
Surely it is God who saves me;
I will trust, and not be afraid.
For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense,
And he will be my savior.
Isaiah 12:2 RSV
My friends, God is with us in this very moment, and in each and every moment.
So wear your mask, and take care of our children and vulnerable adults by doing so.
God is with us.