Fear
July 1, 2018
Do you ever wonder how the scriptures we read on any given Sunday are selected and how they are
related?
The Lutheran church uses a “Lectionary” which provides a three-year series of readings for Sunday
starting with the season of Advent. For each Sunday and festival, three readings and a psalm are
suggested and include: a Gospel reading, an Old Testament reading, and a New Testament reading.
Each year the lectionary centers on one of the synoptic Gospels — Matthew, Mark and Luke. The
Gospel of John is read periodically in all three years and is especially frequent in Year B. We are
currently in year B. You can actually find what scriptures to be used on any given Sunday in the front
of the hymnal in the section entitled “Propers”. For more information on the lectionary you can also go
to elca.org and search “lectionary” for more details on this subject than you probably care to know.
At first you may think “Hmm, I’m going to hear the same scriptures every three years”. Yes you are!
But I find the Bible to be dynamic. In fact it even says that in Hebrews 4:12 “the word of God is living
and active”. How many times have you read a verse of scripture and say to yourself “How did I miss
that? I’ve read this verse many times before and it never spoke to me like it does today.” Thankfully
God knows when were ready for something new. Today our situation may be different than when we
read that verse previously. God uses our current situation as an opportunity to reveal something new
to us. Praise God for that!
Now, the question I think about each Sunday, besides “What am I going to wear to church?” – How
are the scriptures connected or related, and how will God use them to speak to me? For one of my
daily devotions I use the bible readings listed on the back of our Celebrate under “Preparing for Next
Week”. The reading for each day is intended to prepare us for the scripture readings for the coming
Sunday. Sometimes I have a difficult time seeing the connection between the scriptures and have to
wait to see the introductions in the Celebrate and the story on the back of the bulletin.
So to prepare for this Sunday I looked at the scripture readings selected. At first glance I see the Old
Testament reading for this Sunday is from Lamentations or Wisdom. Oh my! Wisdom is not even in
my Protestant Bible and Lamentations is all about the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians. How is
Jeremiah’s lament over the fall of Jerusalem connected with Psalm 30, David’s song at the dedication
of the temple, Paul’s encouragement to the Corinthians to participate in the collection for Jerusalem,
and two healings that Jesus performed as written in the Gospel of Mark? The introduction in the
Celebrate and the back of the bulletin focused on “touch” and “crossing boundaries” which just didn’t
speak to me.
However, as I studied these scriptures, one thing did jump out at me. These scriptures are all talking
about faith. The reading from Lamentations is from the literary center of the book where God’s great
faithfulness is exclaimed. In the Psalm, David reminds us that, as we tarry in our situation, even
though we may feel as if we have been abandoned by God, we can trust God to be faithful to bring us
His joy in the morning. Paul commends the Corinthians for their faith and encourages them to share
their faith by love through giving to those in need. And Mark writes about the faith of two entirely
different individuals. Jairus, a leader in the synagogue, who believed Jesus could heal his daughter
Faith & Fear
July 1, 2018
with just his touch, and the diseased woman, who believed if she could just touch Jesus’ clothes she
would be healed.
But something else jumped out of theses scriptures – Fear! In Lamentations we see fear of the
Babylonians. In the Psalm David refers to the fear of God’s wrath. Paul is telling the Corinthians not
to fear peer pressure. In Mark we read that the woman “came in fear and trembling, fell down before
him (Jesus), and told him the whole truth.” And finally, after hearing that his daughter has died, Jesus
tells Jairus “Do not fear, only believe.”
Despite all our fears, we know from Lamentations - great is God’s faithfulness. From Psalms - God’s
wrath is short; God’s favor lasts a lifetime. From 2 nd Corinthians – there is no pressure, but a question
of fair balance. And from Mark – our faith will make us well. The Greek used in Jesus’ words to the
woman “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease” strongly
suggests that in addition to physical healing, the woman’s faith also led to spiritual salvation.
In closing, I’d like to share this story with you. This past Thursday I was able to visit my grandson,
Joel, while he was attending Boy Scout camp at Hawk Mountain Scout Reservation. During free time
following dinner that evening, he and a few other scouts from his troop were going try to ride the zip
line that runs across the lake. This same group of scouts and my son Zach stood in line for over two
hours on Monday for this very popular activity and never got to ride the zip line. They were next in line
when the activity had to close for the night. The person in charge told them to come back on
Thursday and they could jump to the front of the line.
So after all the waiting and anticipation they were finally getting into their harnesses and ready to
make the trek across the lake to the four story tower to jump off and let the zip line carry them safely
to the other shore. The harnesses were laboriously checked and double checked by the certified
instructor before the group was sent across the lake. As I stood on the shore where the zip line riders
would land I watched as each rider ascended the four story tower, hooked their trolley onto the zip
line and, putting all their trust in the equipment, jumped off the platform to zip across the lake. It was
incredible to hear the sounds of exhilaration and see the joy on their faces as each rider arrived on
the landing platform.
I kept count of the number of guys that came across so we could move onto the next activity after
everyone arrived. Alas, two scouts did not come across. Despite wearing the same equipment, being
checked and double checked by the same certified instructor, they could not jump off the platform.
You see, fear and anticipation kept them trusting in their equipment and experiencing that ultimate joy
and exhilaration of riding across the lake on the zip line.
How often are we like those two scouts - Afraid to put our total trust in God? Is fear keeping you from
living according to your faith or sharing your faith with others? If so, you may be missing all that God
has instore for you and the joy you’ll feel when you share the good news of Jesus Christ with others.
Let’s pray ….Amen