Saturday, July 30, 2016

Year C, Proper 14, Luke 12:32-40, Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16, Fear, Faith, and Courage

"Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom."

This is a beautiful verse, a favorite hymn is based on it, and its a theme that comes up in the Bible time and time again.  Fear not.

The thing is, fear is not a choice but an emotion that simply happens.  And fear serves a pretty important role in our lives.  It helps us to respond to that which threatens us.  Yet, it also can immobilize us from responding at all.

A veteran of the Air Force once shared with me a little tidbit about fighter pilots.  It's not that fighter pilots have no fear.  In fact many a fighter pilot has returned from a dog fight with the enemy, having shit in their pants.  What sets them apart is courage, that is, the ability to act in the face of one's fears.  Courage is not the lack of fear, but the conquering of our fears.

And faith is the foundation of all courage.  It is that complete and total trust that enables us to act with courage in the face of our fears.

Be of good courage, little flock, and trust that it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.

I have been afraid.  A debilitating illness left me without a job, and on disability.  And then the disability benefits were terminated abruptly.  I feared financial ruin.  I feared losing our house.  I feared that I might never be able to work again.  I feared that the treatment options would not be effective.  I feared that I would not be able to afford the treatment without insurance.  And the list could go on and on.

Sometimes courage in the face of our fears involves a very simple response.  Just do the next right thing.  Forget the big picture and all that could possibly go wrong.  Simply do the one task that is at hand.  And have faith.

Actually faith is a gift we receive, not a choice we make.  In the midst of all my fears, and particularly in the face of one of my greatest fears, namely that we'd loose our home and become homeless, there was a promise.  "If need be, we'll buy your house and let you live in it for what rent you can afford."  It was the assurance that we were not alone.  It was the promise of help.  In the end it was not necessary, but the promise alone gave me faith.  And with that faith, came the courage to do the one task that was at hand.

And that has proven to be sufficient.

In the face of fear, we live by faith and act with courage.

And in doing that, we encounter the grace of God.

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