Twice in our Easter Gospel from Matthew we hear, “Do not be afraid!”
What I love about this is that obviously there is no hiding our fears from God. No matter how many fake smiles we wear or how much of a brave front we put on, God knows that we have fears.
An Angel tells us, and Jesus tells us, “Do not be afraid,” and with that we are being beckoned into Easter resurrection life.
Fear is a funny thing, isn’t it? Fear implies anxiety and loss of courage. We fear the unknown, or might be reluctant to face a person or situation we are afraid of. When you think of fear, what do you think of? Maybe it’s a plane crash, or an earthquake, or tornadoes. All reasonable things to fear. But I don’t think those are the kind of things the angel/Jesus/God is talking about.
Fear, as it applies here, are all those things that make us dead to new life. The fear that keeps us from asking for help. The fear that keeps us from asking for forgiveness or forgiving someone else. The fear that keeps us from living fully into who God created us to be. The fear that keeps us from risking speaking up for ourselves or others. The fear that keeps us from challenging the status quo so that all may be seen and heard including the most vulnerable among us. The fear that keeps us from learning new ways of being for the sake of the environment, or racial justice, or the hungry. The fear that keeps us from really claiming our identity as children of God. The fear that makes us play it safe and not really believe in the power of the resurrection that has been given to us.
This is the fear that God calls us to die to in order to claim new life. And when we know the death of those fears we can rejoice in the good news of Easter!
And so as we approach Easter I have a suggestion for you. Set aside some time to read Matthew 28:1-10 and reflect on these questions:
- What fears live in your heart?
- Think about the guards, who became like dead men because of fear. Has that ever happened to you? Where was God in that experience?
- The women, probably equally amazed and terrified, are told “Do not be afraid.” How would you have responded to that angelic message?
- “With fear and great joy” the women ran to tell the disciples the good news! We are probably not ever going to live without fear, but it can be mixed with joy. Have you had an experience where fear and joy were intertwined? What did you learn about fear and joy when they were experienced together?
- What fear might God be calling you to put to death in order that you might know new life?
Friends in Christ, do not be afraid, Christ is risen!
Peace, Pastor Ruth
Interested in future projects of the senior ministry team? Questions? Please talk to Esther Tatley or Pastor Ruth.