Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost—Year B—September 9, 2012

Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost—Year B—September 9, 2012

Preached at the Lutheran Church of Framingham

Let the words of my mouth and meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord our strength and our redeemer.  Amen.

DO NOT FEAR!

Easier said than done, right?

There is just so much in life to worry about and fear.

What are you afraid of?

I’m sure that for many of you, this past week was full of worrying about a new school year, making sure that your kids had all the supplies they needed, that they knew where they were going, that they were settling in okay.  You are back to worrying every night about getting everyone in your family to all their activities on time, getting your work done, making sure the kids get their homework done, and finding something to put on the table for dinner.

What are you afraid of?

For others, this week brought just more of the same old worries and fears:

Where am I going to find enough money to pay all of these bills?

What is the doctor going to tell me at my next appointment?

What is life going to look like when my loved-one is dead?

What are you afraid of?

Are you afraid that you are not good enough?

Are you afraid that God’s promises are not strong and sure enough?

Are you afraid that you have been forgotten?

Are you afraid that your faith isn’t strong enough?

What are you afraid of?

Are you afraid that you will never see the kingdom of God?

Are you afraid that Jesus could not possibly have enough to go around?

Are you afraid that you will not even be granted the crumbs?

Are you afraid that you will also be considered a dog?

What are you afraid of?

            There are many things to fear, more immediate, temporal things, along with the existential, more philosophical, religious leaps of faith.

This is why some prophets, like Isaiah, and all angels start their speeches with the same phrase: DO NOT FEAR!

And this is not some empty command to make humanity listen, it is the reminder of a promise, well many promises in fact that God has made to every one of us.

DO NOT FEAR, because God is in charge, God has made you, claimed you, called you a child of God, and granted you the promise of eternal life that goes along with it.

Sometimes it is hard not to fear, because we do not yet exist in a time fully dominated by the kingdom of God.  We live in an in-between time.  We live in the ALREADY, BUT NOT YET.  Eternal life does not just start when you die; God given abundant life exists now.

Jesus came to earth, died, and rose again, so that we too might live.  He conquered Sin and death, once and for all—that is the ALREADY.

But Sin is still at work in the world.  We get glimpses of the kingdom of God here on earth, but it is not yet fully broken into this world—that is the NOT YET.

It is not until Jesus comes again, to usher in the end of this age that the Kingdom of God will exist without Sin along side it.

There are many theories out there about what needs to happen before that will happen, but no one knows for sure.  Not even the Son knows.

There is nothing we can do to bring it on faster, sooner, now!

All we can do is hold on to the promises of God.  Revel in the ALREADY that you can see, and DO NOT FEAR the NOT YET.

Hold on to—hold God to—the promises with the same HOLY BOLDNESS that the Syrophoenician does.

Don’t focus on the problem—the NOT YET.

Focus on the promise—the ALREADY.

There is disease in the world—the NOT YET

God has given the gifts of scientific knowledge and medical skill to people throughout the world, and they are discovering new treatments and cures everyday—the ALREADY

People still die—the NOT YET

God has promises resurrection for us, just like Jesus—the ALREADY

Money is scarce and time is limited—the NOT YET

God had promised to provide for us an abundance, sometimes in very creative ways that you do not even realize is God at work—the ALREADY.  We do not have to pray in order to receive daily bread, but we pray that line of the Lord’s Prayer because God already promised to do so.

Bad things still happen in the world, terrible things, like the terrorist attacks on September 11th or natural disasters like hurricanes and wild fires—the NOT YET.

God has promised to use those around us to be comfort us, pick us up when we are down, shelter, feed, and clothe us when we are without—the ALREADY.

So no matter what you are afraid of, no matter the NOT YET situation that plagues your life and thoughts and fears this day…

DO NOT FEAR!  With a HOLY BOLDNESS cling to the promises that God has made you—see the ALREADY that is all throughout this NOT YET world—notice the glimpses of the kingdom of God that are speckled throughout this world by the faithful work of all of God’s creatures.  God is working here and now through each one of us: as comforters, friends, nurses, teachers, social workers, doctors, prayer partners, relief workers…and like the angels and prophets of the Bible, each reminds us: DO NOT FEAR!  God loves you, comforts you, supports you, provides for you, sustains you, and will on the last day raise you up.

DO NOT FEAR!  It is easier said then done, but remember God has given you promises to which you can cling with HOLY BOLDNESS.  And even when you yourself cannot fully trust in those promises, you are surrounded by an incredible crowd of witnesses that will do it for you…with a HOLY BOLDNESS they will cling, pray, and plead with Jesus, and you will never be forgotten.  Amen.

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