Friday, June 22, 2012

Get rid of fear forever!

Ever had one of those moments when you were sure you were going to die? I have ... actually, I've had a few, but then I was in the army! Never saw combat, but some of those training exercises got pretty crazy ... but the time I was most sure I was going to die had nothing to do with the army. While I was stationed at Ft Bragg, on a day off I was in a car doing 55 on a country road in North Carolina when a car pulled out from a side road in front of me ... and came to a dead stop in the middle of the road! 

I was sure it was the end. 'There's irony,' I thought. 'After all the guns, explosives, & jumping out of airplanes, I'm going to buy it on the public highway like a civilian.' Somehow, I managed to swerve around him ... my car ended up in the ditch the other side of him ... and I just sat there shaking for a long time after.

So life-threatening moments are pretty scary ... and the reason I'm thinking about this kind of thing is that later today I'm doing an end of year service with the local primary school. The reading is Jesus calms the storm. I'll have the kids making all the noises to act it out: howling for the wind, whooshing for the waves, clapping for the thunder. But all the while I'll be thinking the same thing I always do when I read this passage:  why does Jesus ask his disciples why they are afraid? 

It sounds like an odd question: there was a really bad storm & they were out in a boat on the lake … who wouldn't be frightened? Wouldn't you be? I think it was natural to be scared … remember, a lot of Jesus' disciples were fishermen … they were used to be out on the lake in rough weather & if they were scared, they it must have been really, really dangerous out there that day … 

So why did Jesus ask them if they were afraid? They were in a boat that was about to sink … they were all about to drown … who wouldn't be afraid?

But maybe the clue is in the question that Jesus asked next: have you still no faith? What did he mean by that? Did he mean that no one who was his disciple needed to worry about dying? Well it can't be that … we know that all of the disciples died … not that day, of course! Jesus saved them! But they all died eventually … so he can't have meant that to have faith in him meant that you weren't going to die … anyway, he warned them again and again that to follow him was a rough life!

But you know what I think? I think he meant that those who had faith, real strong faith, shouldn't be afraid of anything … not even death … not even of a scary death like drowning … do any of you know why those who have faith don't need to be scared of anything? It's because when you have faith, you know that dying isn't anything to be afraid of … because you know what happens after you die … 

Why be afraid of anything when you know heaven is waiting for you! It doesn't mean you should be in a hurry to die … of course not … but it does mean that when the time does come, we have no reason to be afraid … no matter how scary things are, we don't have to be afraid ever …

But that's me. What about you? 

(based on sermon notes for the end of year service for the parish primary school)

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