I offered these words from Psalm 27 as the introduction to my message in the Annual Report,
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?
Through the past number of years, we have definitely suffered through a climate of fear! The pandemic stirred the pot tremendously. But fear is stirred these days on any number of topics; conversations on the climate, conversations on the economy, conversations on our overloaded health care system/education system/social safety net system. And, of course, there is deep concern for the future life of many of our congregations.
In other words, fear is a feeling stirred up in many conversations and considerations these days. For some there are personal struggles that seem overwhelming as the future seems so uncertain or has been reshaped by health or other concerns.
But fear is nothing new! Consider the story of our faith. The disciples all abandoned Jesus during his arrest, they fled in fear. According to the gospel of John, they remained locked in a room together for fear of their lives. Jesus had been crucified as an enemy of the state and he was dead. They were all deeply afraid.
The story continues that Jesus interrupted their fear. He came and stood in their midst. He came and stood in their midst and breathed upon them his peace. Their struggles did not cease. They would face hardship and difficult roads in the future as they lived out this amazing story of God’s love and grace to our world. But their fear was now overwhelmed by peace and the blessed assurance of his love for them.
Their fear was now overwhelmed by the Peace of Jesus Christ! Joy replaced their mourning. Hope replaced their feelings of desolation. Jesus Christ was raised from the dead! He stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20)
May you know the Peace of Christ that overwhelms fear. May you discover deep community in our fellowship together as Jesus continues to come to us and stand within our midst. May you know all the blessings and joy that come to us in faith so that we can walk together, in the midst of seasons of great challenge and other seasons of deep delight.
Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed!