Title: There is no Fear in Love
Text: 1 John 4:7-21
Date: November 14, 2010
Place: San Antonio Mennonite Church
Author: Rachel Epp Miller
Last Sunday we shared about things that cause us to fear in our lives. We named our fears and hung them out for all to see in hopes that if we, together, would name our fears and pray for one another, our fears might lose some of their power. I found it a meaningful exercise – not just to name my fears and get them out in the open in order for me to feel better, but to also recognize that this is part of our calling as church – to shine light in the darkness, to name the fearful places in our lives and infuse those places with God’s love so that we can together be a loving, non-anxious presence in a very fearful and anxious world.
This morning we continue on this theme of fear by widening our reflections to look out and around us – to name the fears that we sense and feel in our culture, in our society, in our global community and discern together how we, as people of faith might respond.
We hardly have to look further than the evening news or conversation around the water cooler at work to get a sense of the fears that bind us. We fear the current economic climate that has left many people without jobs, with home foreclosures, and depleted retirement accounts; we are fearful of crime—in our neighborhoods and city; we fear for the education of our children in public schools that lack adequate funding; we fear the effects of a depleted ozone and polluted air and water; we fear the stranger—the immigrant (with papers or without) who we perceive as a threat to jobs and government resources; we fear Democrats; we fear Republicans; the list can go on and on.
I don’t think we can talk about the culture of fear in this country without referring back to 9/11. It has been said that when the planes hit the World Trade towers, the world stopped turning for a moment and nothing has ever been the same. There is no denying the pain and loss brought on by this violent attack. Nearly 3,000 people died that day on the planes or in the towers. Many rescue workers continue to suffer the side-effects of having worked in the rubble for months, permanently damaging their lungs. In addition to the tragic loss of life, the terror of 9/11 was so acutely felt because we were under the illusion that somehow here in the United States, protected by the largest military power in history, we were untouchable by the type of violence that is daily present in so many other countries of our world. What was so terrifying about 9/11 is that it happened here, to us, when the people of New York City were busy going about their daily business—and couldn’t that also mean it could happen in our shopping malls or theaters or schools or workplaces? What was so terrifying was that it brought a new level of violence and loss to our shores that we had never had to experience, at least not for a long time. It was a horrific event, but no more horrific, no more devastating than what is daily happening in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Sudan, and any number of places at this moment. Continue reading