Do Not Be Afraid

When my eyes took in this sight I fell at his feet like a dead man. And then he placed his right hand upon me and said, “Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the living one. I am he who was dead, and now you see me alive for timeless ages! I hold in my hand the keys of death and the grave.”
Revelation 1:17 – JB Phillips

This week I watched the film “I Can Only Imagine.” I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but it is the wonderful story of a young man growing into adulthood, finding faith and finding his own voice of faith, and the change this brings to the way he views the world and what is important to him. It is a story about how the Christian faith allows us to look again at the world through the lens of hope and of redemption, and of finding joy that we cannot imagine when all seems lost.

Upon encountering Jesus, the writer in this passage falls to the ground. Jesus’ touch reassures and his words are tender and welcoming, "Do not be afraid. I am alive and will be with you forever." When we feel like death, or when we’re scared or overwhelmed, Jesus will reach out to touch us and will call out to us, “Do not be afraid.”

The Scripture translation used today is that of JB Phillips, a British priest. It came about after new believers flocked to his church after WWII and he realized the people needed to hear Scripture in modern parlance. In this Easter season, these things remind us of something so important: that Scripture can bring the darkest, most broken and most painful things, and transforms them into things of beauty, used for his glory.

A prayer for today:

Lord of Mercy, God of Grace, thank you that you take us as we are, that you take the broken pieces of our story, and the hurt, pain and insecurities of the world, and weave it mysteriously into gold in your heavenly, eternal story as only you could do. Teach us to look for signs of your gold in the dust of our earthly life together. Amen.

The Rev. Jane P. Ferguson
Assistant for Liturgy, Outreach and Student Ministries