Saturday Sermon: Fear not
By the Rev. Daniel Fultz
April 20, 2012 at 4:20 a.m.
We have a small tortoiseshell cat named Mrs. Kitty.
A recent house guest left a multi-colored cord under the bed in the guest room. Mrs. Kitty found it and thought it was a snake. She was terrified of it. She was afraid to go into that room, which is bad because that is where we keep the cat box.
The experience seems to have had a long-term effect on her. Even though the cord is gone, Mrs. Kitty knows that there is a snake in the house now, and is never at ease. The poor thing is terrified; her life is filled with anxiety.
For many churches, this time of year is known as Easter. Easter is more than one day, but carries on for 50 days, until Pentecost.
During this time, Sunday worship often includes stories of Jesus' post resurrection appearances. Jesus repeatedly visits the disciples "behind closed doors," on the way to Emmaus and on the sea shore.
Some scholars consider the story of Jesus coming to the disciples, walking across the Sea of Galilee, as a post resurrection story told out of sequence. The disciples think that they are seeing a phantasma, a ghost. A major theme throughout the Bible and especially in the post resurrection appearances is "do not be afraid."
Could it be that after his death and resurrection, Jesus came to the disciples for the purpose of giving them this message? Do not be afraid. In fact, I do not believe that Jesus is simply comforting the disciples, I think he is giving them a command. Be fearless.
Jesus' own life is marked by fearlessness. He was fearless in the face of religious and political power; fearless when public opinion turned against him; fearless even in the face of death.
Even though facing the cross was terrifying, Jesus did not run away or avoid what he had to do. This is what it means to be fearless.
Poor Mrs. Kitty. Her life is full of fear. Many of us face the terror of snakes in our lives. Maybe our "snake" is economic uncertainty. Maybe it is illness or loss or our own mortality. Maybe our snake is trying to live with love in a world so full of fear and hate.
Fear drives people apart, creates suspicion and even fosters violence. Much suffering in this world is caused by fear. Fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of those who are different from us. This is not what God desires for us. It is God's desire that we should live our lives free from fear, courageous, and filled with love. Being fearless doesn't mean that scary things don't happen, but that we can act out of love and grace in the face of fear. God is with us. You are loved by God. Do not be afraid.
Rev. Daniel Fultz is the pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Victoria.