Today I want to talk about fear. It first came about at Vacation Bible School. I met two youngsters in my Storytelling Tent who were afraid. It was obvious they were allowed to watch too many scary movies - the kind with mindless killing and mayhem - something children of eight or nine shouldn’t be watching with or without an adult. And they were watching these movies alone, and then spending nights alone, and afraid. Each noise they heard in the night was a potential killer. “Haven’t you seen ‘Chucky?’” they’d ask. “Don’t you know about ‘Saw?’”
“Yes,” I replied, “but I also know about God, and I know that those are just movies, and they aren’t real.” And I’d repeat our memory verse for the day, “God answered, 'I will be with you.' “Ex. 3:12, and our Bible Point, “God is with us, so...trust God!”
I’d explain how those creaky sounds weren’t ghosts, but loose floorboards in their old homes; how the billowing curtain wasn’t a ghost, but air from an open window. And, blessedly, when they returned the next morning, and the morning after that, they were courageous and full of God sightings. The “floating masks” they saw the night before, one child told me, were God looking after them during the night. The rush of air was God kissing them good night. “God is with us, so...trust God!”
Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:15
Like those children, we need to have courage to fight the ghosts that seem to be all around us at times; the ghosts of unaccommodating people, inaccessible buildings, eyes that won’t see, ears that won’t hear, minds that won’t understand and hearts that won’t care. At times it just seems like more than we can bear. But I don’t think it’s more than those children faced.
They were truly terrified, and one of them actually lived in a funeral parlor. She was left alone because her parents were out “on calls” picking up the recently deceased. The other child was a foster child who had lived in more homes than his number of years on earth. But they heard the word of God, and believed. “I will be with you.”
I now understood what Jesus meant about receiving the kingdom of God like a little child after my time with those children. They heard the Word and they accepted it. There was no “Yes, but . . .” There was simply “Yes.”
When do we lose that ability to simply hear and accept? And what does it take to get it back? Can we start by remembering that God is with us, so...trust God?
This week we are lifting up Rev. Russell Ewell, Vice-Chair of the DisAbility Ministries Committee, who has been on the streets of Ferguson, MO for a number of days and nights with his colleagues doing ministry with the younger (and older) people of that community. We pray that God covers Pastor Russell, his colleagues, and all the people of Ferguson with the healing balm of God’s peace, understanding, and reconciliation. We further ask that violence be replaced with calm, and angry rhetoric with reasoned discourse.
Dear Father God, When it seems that the night is at its darkest, and we are entombed in fear, let us remember that you are always with us, and that we can always trust you. Embolden us to step out in courage, claiming your name as our legacy, and our strength ,and our security. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen