Readings for the day:
Dear friends in Christ, grace to you and peace from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. Amen.
For years I have always thought and told people that I have a fear of heights. But when I got to 30,000 feet in my first ride in an airplane, I realized that I’m not actually afraid of heights at all. I actually enjoy being in high places. It is exciting to see the landscape below and seeing the sun above the clouds is quite an experience to have. Heights don’t bother me, but I still do have a fear…the fear of falling. If my perception of a situation is that there is a zero percent chance of falling, then I don’t have a problem with it. If the change of falling is any greater than that…I’ll stay on the ground.
What are your fears? We all have at least something that we are afraid of. In our Gospel text, Jesus realizes that we all have fears and he knows that our fear can and does get in the way of us being the best disciples that Jesus could have. Fear is a natural thing and when we act out of fear we are not always thinking clearly and it can sometimes get the best of us. How many of you were fearful last week during the storms? What was it that you feared? It probably wasn’t the storm itself that you feared, but rather what the storm could do…specifically to you and your loved ones. As soon as the storms came rolling in, I called Stephanie to find out if she was okay. I wasn’t too worried about myself, but I was worried about her and the baby that will be coming any day now. I worried about our safety. I’m going to guess you have similar fears.
What else do you fear? Some of you probably fear if you will still have a job or if your crops will produce enough of a harvest for you to live on next year. The farm crisis in the 80s is always in the back of our minds. Our kids get worried and fear their first day of school. Are people going to like me? Will I like my teachers? Am I going to fit in?
We have all of these questions that produce fear, and what is at the center, causing all of this fear? The uncertainty of our future! Most of our fears come from having a fear of the unknown. During a storm are my loved one’s okay? Will I still have a job? Will my crops produce enough yield? Will my teacher like me? Will I fit in? We have these fears because the answer to these questions is unknown. We don’t know the answer and so we are fearful of what the answer could be.
But Jesus says, “have no fear; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known.” Have no fear for there are no secrets with your Heavenly Father. God cares about you so much that the number of hairs on your head are counted. For those of you who don’t have many hairs to be counted, God knows how many hairs you had on your head. I don’t know what it is with babies, but so many people will comment on how much or how little hair babies have when they are born. People are interested in how much hair babies are born with, but no one takes the time to count how many strands of hair they have. No one that is, except God. God knows. God cares. You are important enough to God that he would care how many hairs you have on your head, and how many hairs you have lost. God cares.
There is no reason to fear anything in this world, because if God cares enough about us to count how many hairs we have on our head, he will certainly care about our well-being and more importantly that someday we meet him face-to-face in heaven. Of course, in order to get to heaven and meet God face-to-face, we have to overcome a fear that many of us have…death. Death is a very common fear in most people, but fear comes from the unknown and Paul tells us in Romans that we don’t have to fear death because what happens after we die is not unknown but known! “All who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death.” “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Paul argues that we know we will have a bodily death like Jesus, because we have seen loved ones die. So we know that as humans, we will certainly die. But since we have been baptized into Christ Jesus, we are then promised that we will most certainly have a resurrection like Jesus as well.
There are many things in this world that can and does cause us fear, but there is nothing in this world that can take God and our baptism away from us. Therefore, there is nothing that we need to fear in this world, not even death itself because we hold the promise of eternal life with God. No matter what unknown we are faced with in our coming days, weeks, and years, one thing is absolutely certain…you will be with God in paradise one day. Amen.
© 2014 Anthony Christoffels. Used with permission.
 Matthew 10:26, NRSV
 Romans 6:3, NRSV
 Romans 6:5, NRSV