I can recall the first few years that I was an acolyte. My brother John and I would serve on the same Sunday. As expected prior to the service, we would be in charge of lighting the wall, alter candles. I would stand there with a huge candle lighter with the bell candle snuffer. It would be swaying back and forth. My brother John would usually have to help me light the candles. Being an acolyte is something that I have never stopped doing. that
Fear even as mild as my eight year old self feeling as if the church was going to burn down with my lighting of the church candles. Our fears can be the large and small things that keep us locked in or out of the growth that God has in store for us within our lives.
The lack of fear is having a deep faith that God, Jesus will make things alright, no matter where we find ourselves. Even the choices that we make good or hurtful do not define how our Lord loves us. Family love in our homes, churches, work, classrooms are the places that we learn about ourselves. What we are best at and what others are gifted at. Fear can be that emotion that holds us from seeing the wonderful things that God longs for us to share with the world.
In our gospel from the book of John, we find Jesus preaching to a large group of people. It has been a very Long, long, long, sharing of God’s love and compassion. It sounds like from our gospel that Jesus’ teaching was not boarding yet captivating . The type of lesson where time passes and you don’t even know that it has been hours. The only thing that stopped the captivation was their tummies grumbling for lunch.
The disciples were astonished at what was set before them. How in the world can we feed all these people? A boy in the crowd had two fish and five loaves of bread Anyone of us who love their times tables, knows that this is what has to happen with the fish and the bread for all to be fed. The miracle happens and all are fed so that the lesson can go on. The disciples for a moment forgot who they had been following for the past few years, Jesus. The man of miracles and faith in his heavenly father, God. Of corse God can supply what we need? Fear or uncertainty can trip us up along the way, yet no matter where we fall, God is there to lift us up and help us out.
The second story within our gospel of John is one that I love the most. The disciples, fishermen who knew the sea, the fish, marine life like their own selves were out upon the water at night. Night can be a good time to fish. It’s simply a part of who they were, fishing when the waters are calm. Yet, it was not calm when the saw Jesus waking on water. It was something so out of this world, truly super natural that they were terrified! Fearful to the core of their beings. It was Jesus that calmed their fears like the storm filled waters that often turn boats over, sining to the bottom of the sea. Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid.” It was with Jesus’ words and presence of love that the disciples fears were washed away with peaceful feeling there were no words to the experience they were having in that moment.
When has Jesus brought a feeling of calmness within your life recently? Was it when you were taking a trip and flying on an airplane? Could it have been that new thing you tried out that you have been always wanting to do yet feared what others would think of you? Did the calming feeling were the lack of fear was, when you were last praying, seeking a calm that only God can give?
No matter where or when you have felt the calming feeling of the divine it is a testament of God’s mercy and love for the Lord’s love for creation. Life is no easy. We often can be weighed down by the things outside of ourselves that try to tell us who we are and how we “SHOULD” be living. This cut out cookie cutter mold of what cool or not is human made This way of thinking that we all find ourselves thinking can bring about fear, uncertainty.
It’s the Lord who made us from the time of our formation in our mothers bodies to our births, from Psalm 139 :8-14: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, [1 you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,"even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.”
We were created perfect in the eyes of God in our human forms. If we can remember that society will try to keep us trapped in a worldly fear with ideas like if you are small, skinny sized woman or a buff man, you are cool or attractive looking. This is a false lie that we find ourselves thinking about as a way of who we need to be. If someone does not like you because you look like you. Then they are not a good friend to have. A good friend is someone who looks beyond your looks and sees the wonderfulness that God has made within you and me. A friend does not feed us with fearful words, unkind words. A good friend cheers us on, encourages us when we are feeling down, makes us full laughter with a fun, clean joke. A friend is full of compassion like our best friend Jesus. God sees us as who we are, gifts to the world simply by us living. We see the awesomeness of God within our friends. Friends can be new strangers that we have met, friends we have had for years, our family members that love is as we are and we love them.
Comfort is something we can call upon God giving us even in the middle of the most difficult times of our lives, when we feel lost, sad, lonely, scared. God is there. I love the quote, “Speak even if your voice shakes.” Or Cadel sticks at church. Fear can come knocking at the doors of our lives yet it’s only God who holds the key to the door of our hearts.
I will leave us with a message Jesus told many long ago. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” -Matthew 7:7.