Faith beyond Fear
Updated: Apr 5, 2018
Preached Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018 by Pastor Peter Beeson
“And they said nothing to anyone for they were afraid.”
Isn’t that where we are today, beloved. Afraid.
We’re afraid of guns in schools
We’re afraid of unemployment, underemployment, or losing our health insurance.
And knowing how lucky many of us are, deep down we’re afraid of social and economic upheaval that will cause us to loose what we’ve gained.
Even in the church we’re afraid.
We’re afraid of irrelevance
We’re afraid of no longer mattering
We’re afraid that we are numerically declining
And more than anything, we’re afraid of embracing new life and accepting change.
See, the women who went to the tomb knew how to deal with death. They had their herbs and spices, they knew how to wrap the body, and they had their songs of lament. Being prepared for mourning, having accepted death, it is only reasonable they were scared of life.
We see that resignation and fear of life in many ways in our society. In how the survivors of the Parkland school shooting are publicly lambasted for working to end gun violence. In how we tolerate our children practicing active shooter drills in schools – rather than learning their alphabet and multiplication tables. We see it in the way we are so quick to talk about the, “homeless problem” without thinking that it involves actual people’s lives.
This love of death and fear of life infuses our society. And make no mistake, death is more than the act of physically dying. Walter Brueggemann, a noted Old Testament scholar, wrote, “Death is an active force of negativity that moves to counter and prevent well-being. … Death is all that circumscribes a life, that limits the life-space of humanity, that diminishes well being and prevents community with human persons or God.”
Dear People of God, we are used to death. We are comfortable with diminishment and we frequently seek to circumscribe human life.
A few weeks ago an elected official running for public office called Emma Gonzales, one of the teenage survivors of the Parkland school shooting, a terrible slur, diminishing and demeaning the work of this brave young lesbian woman of color who is determined that no one else be gunned down like her classmates. This past week a Fox news anchor taunted one of the young white male survivors, for not getting accepted into his college of choice.
In the face of such belittling and diminishing misery, it is any surprise that people stay silent because they are afraid? They are afraid of being mocked, ignored, demeaned, of trolls on social media, and of not being believed. (BREATHE)
It is any wonder that the women at the tomb were afraid? Throughout Christian history they have been the laughing stock of the Jesus story – called cowards and prostitutes and dismissed as hysterical – a critique never applied to men. (PAUSE)
Being afraid, running in fear is the only reasonable choice when you have been expecting death and are instead given life. (BREATHE)
A few months ago, after 17 years of running in fear, I took the step of beginning hormone therapy, one of the parts in medically transitioning and being perceived as a man. It is one of those things I had avoided for over a decade and a half because of fear. I was afraid it would make me angry.
Afraid it would make me unrecognizable.
Afraid I would be murdered in the street.
Walking back from that appointment, taking that step of faith toward embracing life, none of my fears manifested. Instead;
the air was sweeter
the sky was brighter,
And I felt more alive and at home in my own body than I have in years. (BREATHE)
Beloved people of God, There is life on the other side of crucifixion. There is life on the other side of fear. Hope comes out of despair.
Teenagers, who in youth still believe change is possible, have the courage to act in the face of fear. God meets us on the cross. God meets us in the bodies of murdered students lying in school hallways. God meets us in our place of vulnerability and brokenness – addiction, infertility, anxiety – whatever that looks like for us.
And God does not desire that we forever stay under the life-draining weight of the cross.
God lifts us up. Up from our knees, up from our feet, up from sitting in despair. God gives us new life, new hope, a new future. God swallows up death forever in the life and resurrection of Jesus. God invites us to live a life rooted in faith beyond fear.
In a booklet written by Millard Fuller, one of the founders of Habitat for Humanity, he wrote, "We can either act of our trust or fear. Jesus came not so much to save us from our sins, as to save us from our fears. (and invite us to live through faith) Faith is vision. … Faith sees and acts on a different reality than meets the human eye. It sees possibilities rather than problems, it sees what God has in mind, regardless of the circumstances." (PAUSE) (BREATHE)
Dear people of God, Those of you who participated in the March for Our Lives a week ago Saturday, those of you who organize and advocate for an end to gun violence, for safety for immigrants, for the rights of those oppressed, those of you who envision a world where every person is humanely housed. You act with faith, rooted in a different reality. You participate in the in-breaking of the kingdom of God.
That is the life in which God calls us to participate. A life that acknowledges Jesus is no longer on the cross or in the tomb. A life that experiences God’s victory beyond human fear.
Dear people of God, make no mistake, the resurrection will happen with or without us. It is simply a gift, given for our own benefit, that God invites us to live a life beyond fear.
Thanks be to God.
 Walter Bruggemann, Isaiah
 Millard Fuller, Theology of the Hammer, p. 23