Happy Easter, St. Matthias community! I'd like to start this issue of the Ambassador with a huge Thank You!! Starting with our amazing Parish Administrator, Michael, who patiently tweaked all of those service bulletins and "slight changes" with such good humor. Thank you to everyone who helped make our Holy Week and Easter services so beautiful. Thank you to those tireless behind the scenes planners and creators of beautiful spaces under the gracious leadership of Chris and Bill; thank you to readers and singers and acolytes and cross bearers; to those who cooked and those who shared the camaraderie of kitchen duty and table setup, to the decorators and the bulletin folders, and the prayers, thank you for blessing this church with your presence and your joy. I am blessed to be your priest in this place, being able to worship with this community is such a joy!
Now, following on Easter's messages from the resurrection Gospel readings, may I present the truth:
Truth is.... fear is a liar.
FEAR IS A LIAR, poisoning today with
fantasies of what may come tomorrow,
till every joy is clouded with a sorrow,
and dreading all, we leak our lives away.
If we have spouse or child, we fear to part,
or, longing, fear we won't attain, or,
snatching at it, even as we gain, we forfeit
the Heaven, the Harmony, the Heart;
But FEAR IS A LIAR!
TRUTH IS, God moulds our days in love
and with the same precision as
He makes wings for flight, or
petals fold within a sheath, or
shapes an eye for vision.
So, He makes us yearn for What is Right,
Then swift and sudden, hurls us our Delight.
- Garth Lean
Fear obscures the Kingdom and distorts God's love... "Jesus said to his disciples, "Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Luke 12:32
There is so much to fear: terrorism, war, political machinations, global warming, unemployment, hunger, poverty, disease, and death.
Escaping the message that any and all of these things are imminent is all but impossible. Just drive through any area near a hospital, or even car dealerships and read the billboards demanding your attention be riveted on your obviously poorly selected insurance against disease or accident. Move to another neighborhood and off-base Christian signage warns you of your doom if you don't have another kind of "insurance".
I ask you, Is your faith a kind of insurance against the ultimate otherworldly disaster:
not getting into heaven?", or is it a response to God's love and complete, unbroken joy in your own awesome uniqueness? For too many people those pretty effective ads, Church signs, work on that crippling social fear lurking in the back of their minds -
'my friends all got in but here I am on the outside... again.' Sixty plus years of marketing research shows that advertising, based on any sort of threat to a person's security, works better than any other form of control for just about every kind of ideology or product across every demographic. During the years that I studied and taught media literacy getting students to recognize that one fact and begin to subvert its effect was a huge challenge. As independently-minded self-assured Americans, we want so very badly to believe we are immune to such manipulation. Sadly we are not. Fear-based advertising reaches too deeply into our natural make-up... our desire to provide and protect our families, ourselves, and our friends and into our social natures our desire to be seen as competent, likable, or desirable. The messages have become more subtle over the years in advertising -- but the effect is still the same. Interestingly enough, for those churches who still use fear to gain or keep members, the message has never changed. Probably because no one has ever come back to say what is on the other side. Oh wait... but someone did -- He came from the other side, He made the trip back there, and returned to us again, and his message never deviated.
Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." How about that? Into the fear held across the centuries of human experience, Jesus' teaching offers an extraordinary word of comfort in a world that would like us to be increasingly threatened so we will buy the right toaster, or push our children to the edge of exhaustion so that they will have the right experiences and meet the 'right' people.
Do not be afraid." This is not whistling in the dark comfort, but rather the reassurance that what is seen is not all there is, a reminder that the fears real, or imagined in this world, do not need to have the last word in defining one's life. The Gospel weaves a tapestry of claims about God embodied in Jesus and his teaching. Jesus' teaching entices us to place First things first. The things of God are to be given the most urgent priority in every Christian's life. Neither fear nor worldly distraction is to lure us away from God'
s tender, attentive, care.
's Peace be with you,