The collect this morning names the fears of our lives we would rather not acknowledge. “Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”
We stand in need of protection because sometimes we open our eyes and find it has gone very dark – dark outside, in the world, and dark inside, in our souls. There are dark times – times when we are faced with the evil that may assault and hurt the soul, and adversities which may happen to the body. Times we are unable to see the compass; when we cannot tell what is in front of us, or even behind. Times we are enveloped and disorientated and the temptation is to succumb to the fear and act out of it. Darkness is frightening.
The Hebrews probably felt much the same darkness as they fled from the forces of the mighty Egyptian army into the unknown of their future. As they paused at the foot of Mount Sinai, they felt ready to bind themselves to the God who had led them out of captivity and would lead them into their own land. God was their only hope. They could not have known that the land chosen would be inhabited already or that they would be called to work out their destiny not with great gestures of enormous clarity, but with the painful small steps of those who truly seek the truth amidst all the ambiguities of life.
All those Israelites can promise is that they will try to be faithful; even when the facts seem less than convincing.
We too live at a time of uncertainty and ambiguity. Our task, as was the task of the Israelites, is significant. Like the Israelites, we are to keep our eyes on the love of God; to share the love of God in all our dealings with each other and the world. It is our task to learn to live without fear. It is our task is to be faithful.
And we begin by acknowledging our complete dependence on the God who has brought us out of captivity and who leads us into the Promised Land.
The Rev. Susan N. Eaves