Sunday, October 11, 2015
Do Not Fear, God is Near
This is the 36th Thanksgiving Sunday of my ministry and I confess that as I come nearer the conclusion of my life as a worship leader I approach these special occasions with some trepidation. What do I have left to offer after all these years? Of course, the biblical texts always have something to offer and again this year I found inspiration to speak of our gratitude to God as the people of Christ. I may be getting old, but fortunately the texts never do!
The passage from Joel for this day has God saying "do not fear!" to human beings, but also to other creatures, and the trees, and even the soil. We live in anxious times about the state of the planet, yet we are encouraged to trust that the God who is "slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love" will show us our way through this challenge, if we are willing to pay attention.
The reading from Matthew 6 contains Jesus' powerful words about worry and anxiety, which are pervasive in our culture, even though we are more prosperous than at any time in human history, at least those of us in Western culture. Abundance is a state of mind, a spiritual as well as physical reality. If we are convinced of scarcity then it doesn't really matter how prosperous we actually are.
Today we will remember that gratitude and generosity are antidotes to fear and worry. As perplexing as "losing our lives to find them" may sound, Jesus wants us to experience the fullness of life through thanks-giving and generous love.
I will use the Berenstain Bears book, Do Not Fear, God is Near with the children this morning, but the message applies to all of us.
I hope and pray this will be a wonderful weekend for all of you.