-Rev Melissa Fain-
13 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah. Your prayers have been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will give birth to your son and you must name him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many people will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the Lord’s eyes. He must not drink wine and liquor. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before his birth.
Luke 1:13-15 CEB
"Do not be afraid" is not in the Bible 365 times. Let me just say that for what has now been the, I believe, fourth time. It's there around 115 times. That's a decent amount of time people are being told, "Don't fear."
No matter how many times it is said, fear is all over the Bible. While we fear a mortgage payment, or missing a meal, the Biblical fears were plague, starvation and war. If there were a people who had a right to be afraid, it was them.
In reality, people take advantage of fear. It's a very effective tool to get what you want. Middle schoolers like to tell other students, "Snitches get stitches." That is a phrase meant to scare bullied kids, and kids who see bullying, into not outing their bullies.
That's scary, and the fear does not end until the situation is no longer dangerous.
Let me change the story. When I was eight years old I knew I wanted to be baptized. Church was my haven in a very disruptive world. I asked my Dad if I had permission, and he responded it was my choice. (Dad was not the type to pull me into decisions. He made himself present, and allowed me to act of my own free will.)
I knew, if I wanted to be baptized, I had to walk up to the front of the church during the Hymn of Invitation. I was terrified. Those who know me know would not realize just how seized I often was by public attention. It was arresting. Now I had to do something that required me to break up the routine of singing the song, and getting out of church in time for the Chiefs game.
I asked God for the first step. Give me the first step, and I'll take the rest.
That was one of the absolute hardest step of my life.
In that terrible fear, there was God.
In every fear lives a potential action that brings justice to a broken world. God speaks to fear in order for us to step out of it and do what's really right. No child deserves to be afraid at school. No people deserves to be persecuted. Every trauma deserves a voice. God is afraid.
Let us Pray:
Dear Lord, help me bring voice to a voiceless world. Amen.