SERMON: TAKE HEART AND FEAR NOT!
In the story of Creation, we hear about Adam and Eve and their peaceful, simple, safe lives as they lived in the Garden of Eden. Co-existing with all living things and mindful only of the day, the joy, the beauty, and their God.
Then they ate of the forbidden fruit, the only thing that had specifically been denied them. Knowing that God was searching for them, Adam, and Eve for the first time in their lives, attempted to hide.
It is a story that may reminiscent of many of our earliest childhood memories, when we had done something, that we were not supposed to, and we literally hid from our searching parents. When we knew that we were in trouble and we didn’t want to face to music!
Finally God finds them, as we know that he will, for after all, where can we go to hide from God? God asks Adam and Eve why they were hiding. And to you remember the reply that Adam gave: “Because, I was …. AFRAID!”
The story of creation and later the fall, tells us the biblical story about when sin and fear came into the lives of humans. As all the significant stories from the Bible, it tells us and reminds us who we are as humans: to be human is to love, live and laugh, and to be human is to sin, cry and fear.
“Do not be afraid!’ the Bible makes this announcement repeatedly. These are usually the first words out of an angel’s mouth. Spoken to: Abraham, Moses, Mary, Joseph, shepherds tending their flocks, Paul sitting in a jail cell, women at the grave and the disciples hiding behind closed doors or desperately rowing boat in the strong wind.
“Do not be afraid!” In all, these words occur almost 100 times in the Bible – as the bible tells us and as our experiences reminds us: humans are fearful creatures.
There sure is plenty to fear.
It is almost like sweet little Charlie Brown, when he goes to Lucy for a nickels worth of psychiatric help. Lucy proceeds to pinpoint his fear. Perhaps, Lucy says, you have HYPENGYOPHOBIA, which is fear of responsibility. Charlie says no. Well, perhaps you have AILUROPHOBIA which is the fear of cats. No, says Charlie. Well, maybe you have CLIMACOPHOBIA which is the fear of staircases. No, sighs Charlie. Well, Lucy says, maybe you have PANTOPHOBIA, which is the fear of everything. Yes, says Charlie Brown, that is the one!
PANTOPHOBIA…. Fear of everything. Sometimes we live as if we are afraid of everything.
We are afraid of the future. And of the haunting failures of the past.
We are afraid that something may happen to our children. And we are afraid of age and aging.
We are afraid of new beginnings, but also of endings.
We are afraid that we cannot manage the loans. And we afraid that the big earthquake will hit.
We are afraid of the carbs in our food, the quality of the air we breathe and that the neighbors hear us argue.
We are afraid of loving, because we are afraid of losing. We are afraid of commitments as we are afraid of failure. We are afraid of being alone, yet afraid of being honest.
We are afraid of ourselves, and we are afraid of strangers. We are afraid of different religions and the faith of others. And we are afraid that we might lose our religion.
We are afraid of North Korea, Russia, ISIS, Climate Change. And we are even afraid of the truth.
We are afraid of the wrath of God and the final judgment day, but we are even more frightened when we doubt that there even is a God to judge us.
We are afraid of the earthquakes, the waves, the tsunamis, the thunderstorms, and we are afraid of the silence and absence.
We are afraid of living and of dying and everything in between.
So, the storm on the sea, the fear, the sense of being alone fighting the seas of life, the sense of trying to get safe to shore, the sense of sinking as we try to cope, the sense of shouting: Help me! – that sense of stormy seas and risky sailings, we all know too well.
And then we come to church.
And then we find our pew and sit.
And then we sing the hymns.
And then we listen to the words of Christ.
And then we look up and realize that we are in fact sitting in a ship. Sailing, praying for steady waters and hoping for our captain to bring us safe to shore and through whatever storm we may encounter.
We sit in the nave of the church. We sit under the swaying church ship above. We sit pew by pew, side by side, sailing towards East, the Sunrise, the hope, and Christ.
As Rod Stewart once sang with his raspy voice and sailing hit:
I am sailing, I am sailing
Home again 'Cross the sea
I am sailing, Stormy waters
To be near you, To be free
In today’s Gospel Jesus shows up unexpectedly. Walking to them on the water and silencing the storm.
Jesus came to the frightened and struggling disciples amid their storm and showed that the storm itself is the meeting place with God and not the absence of God.
In the storm, Jesus silences their fears and inspired their faith. And even if Peter in all his eagerness and human limitations wants to imitate Jesus, and walk on the water and finally starts to sink, - Jesus reached out to him and saved him.
“ Take heart and do not fear!”
We will trust that God will be with us through storms and solitudes, in wilderness and waves, despite brokenness and limitations, and whenever we may attempt the impossible, like walking on water.
Jesus, Savior, pilot me
over life’s tempestuous sea
Unknown waves before me roll
Hiding rock and treacherous shoal,
Char and compass come from Thee
Jesus ,Savior, pilot me!
Joke of the Day:
Mark Twain recalled a visit to the Holy Land and a stay in Capernaum. It was a moonlit night, so he decided to take his wife on a romantic boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Twain asked a man in a rowboat how much he could charge to take them out on the water. The man saw Twains shite suit, white shoes and white hat and supposed he was a rich Texan. So, he said the cost would be 25 dollars. Mark Twain walked away and said to his wife: “ Now I know why Jesus waked!”