REFLECTIONS FROM PASTOR AMY JO
The Bible promises us that “Perfect love casts out fear.” (I John 4:18),and yet many of us live with fear and anxiety in many areas of our lives. Our regular habit of reading the newspaper (or watching/listening to the news) makes us aware of many concerns, problems, and conflicts both in our local neighborhood and across the world. It is good to be aware of the world around us; but, how can we respond to these many concerns without allowing fear to rule our lives? How can faith and prayer allow us to turn over our fears to God and live in a new freedom? “Give all your cares and worries to God, for he cares about you.” (I Peter 5:7) These are both good questions for Christian reflection.
This fall, there will be several ways to participate in Christian education on the topic of moving beyond fear. Beginning on September 9th at 9:30 am, the adult education class will be learning with the DVD curriculum of Unafraid: Living With Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times by Rev. Adam Hamilton. Rev. Hamilton wrote this book after a survey of his congregation reported that 80% of the congregation experienced moderate to significant fear in their everyday lives. During the weeks of the DVD study, I will be preaching on related topics during worship, and e-reflections will be available 3-5 times per week (to sign up, contact the office or indicate interest on the blue card at worship). The e-reflections will contain reflection questions, prayers, and meditations to engage us in reflection throughout the week. Later this fall (November), the Wednesday noon book group will provide an opportunity to move deeper into study with a discussion of the book Unafraid: Living With Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times. We hope that these varied opportunities will work together to provide opportunities for the people of St. Paul’s UMC to study and grow in our faith together.
While some fears serve the important purpose of protecting us from unnecessary danger and helping us to make wise choices (like fear of going boating when the seas are stormy), other fears may prevent us from living life fully and abundantly. Unnecessary fears can even effect our community life together, causing us to make community policies and laws in response to shared fears. Courage is the force that helps us to step beyond fear and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit to live life fully and abundantly. Stories of courageous people of faith abound in the Biblical tradition: Daniel in the lions’ den, David slaying Goliath, Esther saving her people, Peter walking on water, and many more. These Biblical texts help inspire us to draw on our faith in God and lead courageous lives. May we grow in courage and love of God and neighbor together!