Beautiful Fear

Leslie Tenjack Articles, Congregational Care, Joe Walker

You have probably held a door open for a stranger on countless occasions. Most of the time you received a polite “thank you” or an appreciative head nod. What about those times when your kindness was ignored or the person grumbled something under their breath? That felt a little awkward, didn’t it? But it didn’t stop you from holding a door the next time the opportunity presented itself, right? The occasional rebuff is just part of the cost of paying attention to those around you and being kind to them.

When we think about Jesus modeling for us how to be loving, the first step in his interactions with individuals was that he cared enough to turn his attention towards them. Jesus felt the hemorrhaging woman’s hand brush his garment even in a jostling crowd. Jesus heard the plea of the blind beggar over the chatter of his disciples and the hangers on. Jesus saw the pain on the face of the Samaritan woman at the well even in a social context where they were forbidden to look at one another. Every miracle, every healing conversation began with the simple and accessible – and courageous – step of loving attention.


Absolutely. To care enough to enter into someone’s story means we voluntarily become vulnerable to wherever the interaction leads. I often recall the story of The Rich Young Man in this vein. In addition to his financial wealth, Jesus was calling him to surrender the privilege and power he used to control the outcome of most social interactions.

When we befriend an elderly neighbor by helping with little chores or errands we know that someday they will move away – or die – and we will miss them because we have let them into our hearts. Such is the nature of life. When we speak up on behalf of immigrant children our heart aches as if they were our own children. That national crisis may be resolved compassionately– or not. Such is the nature of history.

So we may reasonably fear the possible consequences and costs of loving. At the same time, we believe that we are made in God’s own image and so we cannot be true to the Spirit that beats in our heart or to our very being without daring to care. A friend recently summed it up this way, “If we ignore or tamp down all the bad stuff, we miss all the good stuff, too.”

Our congregation offers a rich variety of ways to engage in caring for and with one another. For instance, next month we will be inviting members and guests to learn more about our Stephen Ministry and how to become a trained caregiver. You are also invited to join one of our new Circles of Care and enjoy meeting one of our homebound members. And we will soon be rolling out a new opportunity to offer an occasional ride to an elderly member or neighbor through the Jewish Family Services JET Express project.

Jesus has shown us that The Way leads through our fears to an ever greater awareness of our capacity to love, to serve, to sacrifice, to laugh with and cry with one another.