Fear Not

Puddingstone Singing Group

Last night was our last Mountain Soul concert for the 2017 -2018 season. The group for the concert was Puddingstone. They are a large group of 7 people and three times as many instruments. Many of their instruments are reproductions of instruments used from the 12th century to present. Coming from Hickory, NC they play in lots of easily accessible places across the piedmont of North Carolina. Look them up and get to one of their concerts soon because they are really wonderful!

Our Mountain Soul concerts are always set into the format of worship. So we have a 15 – 20 minute worship before and then close with a prayer and singing Amen. Here is the closing prayer:

We are waiting…

For Love without end

without conditions

without violence

without fear.

We are waiting…

For Justice without end

without vengeance

without hatred

without lies.

We are waiting…

For Peace without end

without displacement

without borders

without war.

We are waiting…

For Joy without end

without reservation

without rebuke

without want.

Lord we are waiting for YOU. Amen.

I don’t know the origin of this lovely prayer but suspect that it was written by our rector at Christ Church here in Sparta, The Rev. Stephanie Parker. Embodying creativity in liturgy is surely one of the gifts that God has given this wonderful priest.  Listening to God as she shapes her sermons, Stephanie has been steadfast in her preaching among us. Yesterday morning she said she felt as if she had only preached one message since she came: “God loves you”. Carrying this message in word and action, she has inspired us to look beyond our faults and failures (yes, sins) to see God as the one who marks us as God’s own – forever. God loves us, not because of how we act or what we think, but because we are God’s beloved sons and daughters. This fact alone should suck  any trace of fear out of our relationship with God. Well over 350 times in the bible, God says, “Fear not”. That message along with God’s love (for us and all creation) are two of the most consistent messages that unite the whole of scripture. God is Love and there is no fear in God’s love.

There is so much fear in the world right now. The Culture of Fear written by Barry Glassner, is a book I want to read at some point. In an excerpt of an interview I read, Glassner said that he feels like our fear is being manipulated by those who profit from it. I’m sure we all have opinions about whether that is true or not. Fear seems to come quickest over those things which we cannot control. Doing all the right things does not mean that we are immune to disease, or disaster or death. It helps to do those “right” things and to “prepare”, but life does not come with guarantees. While life does not come with a guarantee, God does give us the guarantee of God’s love and presence with us. There is no manipulation in God’s love for us; and, there are no conditions on God’s love. In spite of the fear that floats on the surface of much that I see and hear, I can choose to let the good news of God’s love without fear cut a swath of joy in my heart. For this I am grateful!

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Bella, the non anxious, non fearful presence!

 


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