The 12th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 14C (8/7/2016)

Lessons:Genesis 15:1-6 Psalm 33:12-22 (22) Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16 St. Luke 12:32-40

Semicontinuous Series: Isaiah 1:1, 10-20 Psalm 50:1-8, 22-23 (23)

Prayer of the Day: Almighty God, you sent your Holy Spirit to be the life and light of your church. Open our hearts to the riches of your grace, that we may be ready to receive you wherever you appear, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

12:32 [Jesus said,] “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 35 “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36 be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. 39 “But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

St. Luke 12:32-40. New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

 

Have No Fear

What is it that makes us afraid? Some of us are afraid of falling, and an amusement park is just about the last place we’d ever want to be. Some of us are afraid of health troubles, and regularly spend time with our physicians, seeking to head trouble off before it arrives. Some of us are afraid of financial insecurity, and amass significant fortunes in our “rainy day funds.” Some of us are afraid of people we don’t know or understand or trust, and avoid them whenever we can.

There is a great deal of fear in our world. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the message angels most often share with humans in the Bible is this: “Be not afraid.”

That message can be found in this week’s Gospel lesson, and this time it is not on the lips of angels: it is spoken by Jesus himself. Addressing those who believe in him, he says: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” [St. Luke 12:32] Jesus understands how fear can take hold of a person’s heart, and he does not want his followers to live in fear. So he admonishes them to remember that God is pleased to give them the kingdom, and with this in mind they need not be afraid of anything.

Many believers have discovered that faith is able to displace our fear. That happens, in part, when we take the long view of life. Through our faith in Jesus Christ, we know that we have been put right with God; we know that our ultimate well-being is assured by God’s grace. We have an eternal home with God, and knowing that all things will eventually be well, frees us up to live unafraid of anything this world has to offer.

On the other hand, there is a more immediate benefit to the attitude of faith: when we learn to trust God, we learn to believe that it is not all dependent on us. No matter how weak or strong we are, it is God who works through us to make all things possible. Trusting in this promise, we become unafraid to take risks for the sake of the Gospel. We are able to “try and trust” – and know that it all depends on God’s strength and God’s power.

In the Gospel of Jesus Christ we have been given a remarkable gift: we have been put right with God. We have been freed from the need to earn our salvation. We have been assured that God is with us, and for us, and will accompany us through all of our life’s journey. That does indeed free us from the preoccupation of fear… frees us up to serve our God with joy and delight.

Amen.

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What caused the disciples to be afraid?
  2. Why did Jesus command them to “not be afraid?”
  3. What examples are there that the disciples did indeed find that faith replaced fear for them?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What makes me afraid in this world?
  2. How does believing that God is with me (now and always) displace my fears?
  3. Freed from fear, what am I feeling called to do?