You’re probably tired of hearing it from me now. I know I’ve preached on it more than once, and of course it is at the bottom of every email I send. “Fear Not!” It’s my catchphrase, one my previous church even had silkscreened onto a rally towel with a photo of my face. Yikes!
Fear Not has taken on a whole new meaning these days, though, hasn’t it? We are faced with an invisible enemy, a virus that has killed a large number of people and has hospitalized many more. Our whole lives have been changed – we have been ordered to stay at home, to limit shopping to once a week for food, to go outside for walks but stay at least 6 feet from anyone besides the people with whom we live.
What does it mean to Fear Not in these circumstances? It would not be prudent or safe for us to ignore the warnings and the orders that we have been given, and just go about our lives as normal. That is not, in fact, what I think God is telling us when God tells us not to be afraid. Rather, God is calling us to trust.
We can trust that when we do the things we are being asked to do, we have done all we can to be safe. We can trust that the ones around us are as fearful as we are. We can trust that we have not been told to stop greeting our neighbors, looking for ways to serve, enjoying our families. We can trust that by following the rules, we are making a difference. That we are protecting those who are older, more at risk, more in danger than we are.
And we can trust that by doing that, we are showing in a very real way that our God is a God who loves everyone in the whole world. By doing that, we are proclaiming that Christ is Risen over and over and over again to a world that needs to hear that message of love.
When we do finally get to gather together again as a community in real life, we will celebrate that message, we will celebrate the Resurrection, we will celebrate the church as the body of Christ, and we will know in a very real way that God’s love has led us through this wilderness that none of us has ever experienced before.
And that is why we can Fear Not. Because there is no where we can go where Jesus has not been and where Jesus will not be with us. Jesus has walked every lonesome valley before us. Jesus has endured and enjoyed every emotion we will experience. That is the wonder and the mystery of the incarnation. That is the wondrous love that God offers us through his Son.
So my friends,
we will always be the body of Christ,
the beloved of God.