A few weeks ago in a sermon I said, “We are called to leave fear behind.” Lara Schopp, our Director of Communications, sitting in the pews listening to the sermon, picked up on the line, “leave fear behind.” She suggested that we use it more often. I liked the idea but I confessed to her that I did not remember saying those words in the sermon. I looked back at my notes and did not see them in the manuscript.
Sometimes the sermon does “go off the page.” Sometimes that means a bit of inspiration has made its way into the moment. Most of the time it means my hyper active brain – think of a 3-year-old with lots of sugar – has made a connection to something and before I know it the words have slipped out. This is why I write out my notes in manuscript form. They tend, more or less, to keep me on track.
This time, however, I think the Spirit was at work. Please know this: I don’t claim any credit for making that happen. Lara and her Communications Council team have already begun to play with that message and what it means about our church and how we can use it to communicate our message to the greater Kansas City Metro area.
I thought about the work Lara is doing while reading through Peter Gomes’ book, The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus. He writes, “Living in fear is no way for a mature, much less Christian, society to flourish…Fear is no policy; it represents the absence of courage and a poverty of imagination. To be defined by our fears is to accept as normal the lowest possible level of emotional intelligence. The risk of indulging in the fear factor is that not only will we not overcome our fears, but we will become dependent upon the means to control and contain them.”
Strong words, but they point to a way of life that invites us to leave fear behind as we embrace the love of God and the life of service to others. Jesus must have been filled with fear when he was on the cross but he did not allow that fear to define or control his actions. Instead, he proclaimed forgiveness for enemies, love for his family and hope for the criminal.
When we leave fear behind we will discover the joy of finding grace and compassion on the road ahead.
Peace to you,