The Reign of Fear-The Triumph of Christ!
In his sermon on 15 January 1933, Dietrich Bonhoeffer preached
on Matthew 8:23-27, saying:
"...the Bible, the gospel, Christ, the church, the faith-
all are one great battle cry against fear in the lives
of human beings....Learn to recognize and understand
the hour of the storm, when you are perishing. This is the
time when God is incredibly close to you....God wants to
be our only support."
Fifteen days later, Adolf Hitler assumed ultimate power.
Fear has risen in America and throughout the world. The causes? ISIL (Daesh), Mexicans, Syrians, Al Qaeda, African Americans, Muslims, anyone non-White, unemployment, trade deals that ship jobs overseas, the Federal Government, President Obama, lead-filled water, police, Black people wearing "hoodies", and....
What are our responses? Buying guns: semi-automatics and automatics, pistols for our night stands. We live in gated communities. We demand our government spend more on the military even though we spend more than most countries in the world combined. We limit voting rights to insure that only White people can vote. We incarcerate an increasing number of people for non-violent crimes. We want to build walls to keep the poor out. We protect police actions in spite of evidence to the contrary that some are too trigger happy and cause the unjust deaths of many each year.
We fight to not allow gay marriage. We discriminate against Muslims, calling them names and isolating them from regular social events. We damage their mosques. In Black America we burn down their churches. We create urban ghettos. We entertain ourselves with television, movie and musical violence which offers scapegoats and emotional release. We find ways to exclude those different from Christian Whites. Narcissism is fear's black bloom. Four letter words flow as carrion crows freely fly.
Too often our theology focuses primarily on personal edification, forgiveness of sins and easy love. It is feel good, success focused and protective. Too often our church walls are fortresses for the right people, like Medieval castles surrounded by moats. Amos' words fall on deaf ears: "I take no delight in the noise of your solemn assemblies."
Thankfully, however, Bonhoeffer has it right! The Holy Bible is God's victory over fear: "Fear not for I bring you news of great joy! For to you this day is born...." Psalm 91:5 says "You will not fear the terror of the night." Christ said to one whose daughter was dead, "Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved." "There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear" says 1 John 4:18. Giving encouragement to early Christians, the writer of Revelation writes: "Do not fear what you are about to suffer" (2:10). In Holy Baptism we are held by God, cleansed by God, graced by God, forgiven by God, welcomed into God's fellowship of faith. No fear. welcome in! In the Lord's Supper, ALL are welcome! Come, receive the forgiveness of sin! Be in fellowship! In Church we eat and drink together. We study together. We worship together. We retreat together. We serve together. We live and work for others together. We are not alone. In Church we have conversations about all of life. We debate, we pray, we argue, we seek the truth, we decide for life. We are justified by grace through faith. "...for we walk by faith, not by sight."(2 Cor. 5:7). "...you are all children of God through faith." (Gal. 3:26)
Christ has triumphed!
A bulwark never failing!
The Church's one foundation....
Have no fear, little flock!