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By Rev. Thomas Hyde
First United Methodist Church 

Facing our fears

 


Jesus’ gift of peace overcomes anxiety

Are you anxious? Are you afraid of something? I feel a lot of anxiety around us. We’re afraid of people who are different from us, the others. We’re worried about the economic climate of our city. Maybe we’re just anxious and we don’t know why.

The Gospel of John records that the disciples met together on the first Easter Day. They had heard reports that the tomb of Jesus was empty, but they had no proof. And they were afraid: “When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear . . .” [John 20: 19] They were afraid of the Jewish leadership that had turned on Jesus, they were afraid of the Roman authorities who had killed Jesus, they were afraid. Then” Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’”

In the midst of abject terror and fear, Jesus gave them the gift of peace. They did not know what was going to happen to them, their lives were still in jeopardy. In fact the disciples met gruesome deaths as they were martyred for their faith. They would have known the words from the Psalm 27: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” Those words were a response to someone who was surrounded by “evildoers, adversaries, and enemies. Their life was in danger. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?”

Our fears come from many places. A visit to the Doctor brings a diagnosis with a long name and a scary prognosis. Employment may be threatened by factors out of our control. Storm clouds boil up in the distance and threaten us. These are real fears, and real dangers. Fear is an appropriate response. I believe that naming that fear and anxiety is much healthier than just letting the feeling in the pit of our stomach dominate our lives.

Anxiety is going to be a part of our lives. The question then is dealing with it. Support from friends and family is important. Talking to a trusted professional is a good way to gain insight can help us cope.

For me, the story of Jesus shines a light on my path. He spent a night of agonizing fear in the Garden of Gethsemane. He had had his farewell dinner with his disciples, and while his disciples were nearby, they were asleep. Jesus knew that his enemy, the Roman soldiers were on their way to arrest him, and kill him in the most painful way possible. His prayer was “take this cup from me.” He faced his fear and won a triumphant battle over the last enemy, death.

As we face our fears, remember these words of faith: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” [Psalm 27:1]

 

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