It’s all about fear. Watching the news is all about fear. Talking about the world is all about fear. As Elmer Fudd would say, “Be vewie, vewie afwaid!”
This week’s news talks of thousands of US troops being sent to the Middle East along with B-52s. We made a preemptive strike in Iran because we have intelligence that says they were about to strike us. We killed a major military leader. Iranians have responded by bombing air bases. Our president claims to have chosen 52 sites in Iran to strike if they strike. He has now told the world that we have big, accurate and speedy missles with which we can strike. And it all goes to war, war, war. How can we not be afraid?
The broadcasts move on. Australia is ablaze. Over two dozen people and over 500,000,000 animals have died already. Puerto Rico has been struck with earthquakes. We are reminded that climate change is leading to an ever increasing number of disasters. How can we not be afraid?
Oh, and to compound the anxiety Nancy Pelosi is accused of playing games with the impeachment papers while Mitch McConnell is accused of manipulating the Senate trial process. And we should all be very afraid that we are taking our country down. Be very, very afraid.
As the fears of the imminent World War II loomed over the Western World, writer and philosopher Lewis Browne begins his book, This Believing World, [in non-inclusive language] with these words: “In the beginning there was fear; and fear was in the heart of man; and fear controlled man … At every turn it whelmed over him…All the days of man were gray with fear, because all his universe seemed charged with danger.” It’s a dismal picture which can only create anxiety and more fear. It takes today’s fears and aims toward the end of hope.
But, we are not hopeless. The story of the God I follow begins with different words: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…and God looked at all that was made and said, “It’s good.” The Creator watches over this world, blesses people to bless it, sends a savior to redeem it, and makes us co-creators to guide the goodness of this earth.
We are called to live goodness and to work goodness for the earth and the people of it. We are called to live peace and to work peace. We are called to love with a godly love and to work love into existence. As Christ’s people we answer the call and step out in the Holy Spirit to follow the one who says over and over and over – Fear Not.
As we continue to step into this new year ready doing the work to which we are called, I pray the words of an ancient litany, “From the crafts and assaults of the devil, from sudden and evil death, from pestilence and famine, from war and bloodshed, from sedition and rebellion, from lightening and tempest, from all calamity by fire and water: Good Lord, deliver us.” And I add an update from the late Alvin Rogness: “From exhaustion of energy, from pollution of air and water, from world hunger, from nuclear war: Good Lord, deliver us.”
When Rogness contemplates stepping into a new year, he writes, “As I look back and begin counting my blessing, and rest back in those arms that have cradled and carried me through the years, I have the courage to look forward with calm and confidence.”
Knowing we are carried in the arms of the Spirit we hear the call to fear and say we will not. We strive for love, for light and for life with calm and confidence.