At church I had the privilege of contributing to the liturgy during Advent. This fourth Sunday of Advent was centered on the theme of love beyond fear. Writing on this theme caused me to reflect on safety and our reactions to violence in my first post.
God, we come before you as people who love, and as people who fear. We confess that all too often, panic grips us on every side. Fear hangs over us, sits under us, enfolds, and entraps us. We are afraid of what we do not know, and of what we do know. We are afraid of what might happen, and are terrified of the evil that could happen again. We are afraid of what is different, and of what is familiar.
We are called, in the known and unknown, to love beyond fear.
We live in a society where there is much to fear, where violence and natural disaster can threaten our joy and take our lives. Our world is filled with bullets and bombs, bruises and broken bones, one in which winds destroy and lands quake. Lives are taken by those who seek power, and by the earth that we cannot control.
We are called, in violence and in chaos, to love beyond fear.
We live in a nation that fears that by not partaking in violence, it will befall us—that by not retaliating, we will be weakened, by not attacking we will be attacked, by not killing, we will be killed. And so we retaliate, we attack, and we kill.
We are called, in the midst of threats real and perceived, to love beyond fear.
We fear for our neighborhoods, our friends, our families, our children, and for children yet unborn. We fear that no matter the measures we take, no matter the safety nets we knit, that their lives, and our lives, are not in our hands.
We are called, in our powerlessness and mortality, to love beyond fear.
We fear for our jobs, our bank accounts, for the rent check that is soon to be due, for the groceries that fill our bodies and the gas that fills our cars. We fear for our retirement plans, or for our lack of one. We fear for our debts and our savings. What we have may not be enough, and we cling to it in fear.
We are called, in scarcity and abundance, to love beyond fear.
We fear that our morals and our ideals will lose strength and power, that our way of doing things won’t prevail. We fear those who oppose us and in our fear, exalt ourselves.
We are called, in gentleness and humility, to love beyond fear.
We fear ourselves—our addictions, our bad habits, our lack of self-control and capacity to harm. We fear not changing, or changing only to fall once again. We fear what we cannot change—our aging bodies and the illnesses that plague us. We fear that healing will never come.
We are called, in our hope and our despair, to love beyond fear.
We are followers of Jesus who refused the temptation to hold onto his life and instead gave himself up in love. As trembling, powerless, finite bodies, we pray that we may live by the words “Be not afraid!” and be witnesses to a love that reaches beyond the clutches of all fear.