Friday, December 25, 2015

Be Not Afraid!

Last night, we filed back to the sanctuary from the end of our 5 p.m. Christmas Eve service that opens and closes outside in the butterfly garden.  One of the little boys that I see regularly during Sunday services noticed me wiping my eyes.  He said, "Are you crying?"--imagine a tone of disbelief and a bit of condescension.

His mom came to my rescue, explaining that we sometimes cry when we're happy, that we don't always cry when we're sad.  The boy said, "You mean like in Star Wars, when [spoiler deleted]."

And then we chatted about that.  I was spared from having to explain how much our pastor's sermon had meant to me.  He had talked about refusing to give in to our fear.  He talked about larger geopolitical fears, but also our personal fears.  He talked about how many times Jesus commanded his disciples to let go of their fears. 

I haven't let myself realize how fearful I'd been feeling until that sermon.  I have spent much time this past week visiting my friend who is my age who is in the hospital with a collapsed lung that is taking its own sweet time to heal.  My aching feet make me realize that I'm not as young as I once was.  I find myself worrying about being a lonely, little old lady when I've outlived everyone, but I'm worried that may happen sooner rather than later.

I began the day catching up on old NPR shows, and I began Christmas Eve by listening to this episode of the Diane Rehm show, where religious leaders had a similar theme to my pastor's Christmas Eve sermon.  Some of the comments moved me so much that I copied them from the transcript, and I leave them here for your Christmas Day enjoyment.

"Well, fear washes over you. It's not necessarily something that you can control as I'm not decided to be afraid or not to be afraid. The gift of a faith tradition, of all of our faith traditions, they give us a place to go to help us understand and navigate fear in such a way that we don't perpetuate it or get caught up in the frenzy of it. And it seems to me that the gift and the importance of standing as friends in this moment is a way to remain firm in a belief system that overcomes fear. "  Episcopalian Bishop Budde

"And so, it's up to us, to then teach about the nature of what fear actually is. And there are tremendous teachings throughout the Jewish tradition, for example, that talk about how, in a sense, fear is an idolatry. That, that it is -- we are turning our fear into something that we are, ironically, worshipping instead of overcoming that fear and looking more deeply into our hearts about what we really are. And what really binds us together as human beings."  Rabbi Steinlauf

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