Mourning With LasVegas

            During coffee hour after church several of us were discussing the topic of snakes. A baby rattler was discovered in the parish kitchen just a few days before and that sparked the conversation. I declared my life long aversion to all snakes saying that I really loathed the sight of them. The person next to me pointed out that if it were not for the presence of snakes our habitats would most likely be overrun with mice! My fear blinded me to the reality that snakes were a necessary part of our eco system.

            Fear of course is an emotion easily preyed upon. There is money, lots of it, to be made by pandering to people’s fears. Fear of crime for instance leads to the constant barrage of advertisements on television for home security systems. Many years ago after my home was burgled I asked the police investigating it what security system I should buy and the reply was, “Don’t. Get a dog”. They were not kidding.

            Fear leads us to irrational and often violent reactions. Our fear can lead us down paths that can have disastrous consequences because fear can be manipulated. Growing up in Belfast I saw only too clearly how fear was used for political ends by politicians on all sides. It was ugly and lead to ugly violent outcomes. The fear and hatred still simmer beneath the surface. Eradication is difficult.

            As Christians we are called to overcome the fear that leads to hate. Scripture is replete with God’s call to us to not be fearful people. In Isaiah 41:10 we read: “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you; don’t be distressed, for I am your God. I give you strength, I give you help, I support you with my victorious right hand.”

            We live in fear-filled times. We are anxious about many things. It is so easy to forget that we are called to be a people of hope. We must not give in to fear and those who would exploit us to promote their agendas of hate, division and violence. Jesus was a victim of those who were controlled by fear. Pilate was afraid of the Emperor’s displeasure if there was unrest in his province. The Jewish leaders were afraid that a populist uprising would bring savage Roman retribution.

Anne Lamott, says, "Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don't give up."

            We must not give up. We must not give in to fear. We must continue to build the Kingdom of God knowing that Jesus is always with us. It is hard work being people of hope. In the midst of often mindless violence and irrational hate, we must be people filled with the hope that God indeed supports us with His victorious right hand.

            As Jesus promises in John 14:17 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”



Margaret Rodeheaver