“Do not be afraid” is a common refrain in Scripture. In fact, some version of “Fear not” shows up a total of 365 times, Bible statisticians tell us, one for every day of the year. And I’d say that is about as many times as we need it.
The Sunday after the most recent presidential election, the Revised Common Lectionary, used by most mainline churches, contained in the Gospel reading Jesus’ intensified version of the refrain. “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified.”
When we are afraid, when we are terrified, how helpful is it, really, to hear “Don’t be afraid”? Even when it is spoken from the heart of God, is this phrase enough to assuage our terror?
I trust God’s word to us every day — to comfort us and help us be the community God envisions. I have also come to know that God’s word often speaks more deeply than what I first hear it saying. When what I hear is a platitude, I know I need to listen more carefully.
In the swirl of emotion and concern following the election, the truer translation of the refrain that began to rise up in me was this:
“Be not your fear.”
Do not live from this place. Try not to make decisions or responses from here. We will have fears and they are real, but we are being encouraged to show up in the world as more than our fears.
At the root of all violence is some fear. I know when I am anxious or terrified, I can make people into enemies who are not my enemies. Fear makes enemies. Be not this, the Holy tells us.
I want to listen to my fears. They are real. I want to know them, to care for them, but not to let them be me.
Beloved, is what God calls us. “You are my beloved.”
Can we be this? Be loved. Be love. Rise from here. Can we pause, when our fear threatens to overwhelm us, and ask, How do I want to show up in the world, as fear or as something more?
This may be the most important question of our times:
How will I show up in the world?
How will I show up in my family, my workplace, on social media, with those with whom I disagree, with those I do not understand? How will I be in my next step, my next word?
One way we show up in our world is with our resources. What are the organizations that are helping the world be not fear? Who are the ones that are helping others who are afraid? I encourage us to give and to give generously from the place of love.
You are receiving this email because you are connected to Stillpoint. We are not an institution or even a location. We are you. I hope you will continue to financially support this work with a tax-deductible year end gift. You may donate by clicking here or by mailing your check to Stillpoint, P.O. Box 94535, Pasadena, CA 91109.
Every gift and every prayer is received with gratitude. Together, with God’s help, we can be part of transforming the world.
Blessings for the Journey,
Rev. Elizabeth I. Rechter
Executive Director, Stillpoint