“Be not afraid.” That’s the angels’ message. Be not afraid when God comes near. Be not afraid of the conditions you must endure. Be not afraid of the task that is before you. Be not afraid for God is with you. Be not afraid is never a promise that tough times, danger or deadly confrontation with enemies can be avoided. Be not afraid is always a promise that God has something in mind for the welfare of the world. Be not afraid is encouragement not to fall victim to manipulating intimidation.
How different that is from the message often heard in daily life, “be afraid, be very afraid.” Be afraid of the boss, of life, of others who are different, of security, of almost anything. The warning to be afraid is often used as an intentional tool of intimidation in order to manipulate the behavior of another. Fearful people manipulating fear in others can be a powerful motivator, but seldom for good in any form.
In the tradition of the Episcopal Church, Tuesday’s morning meditation focuses in part on fear, as we pray to God that we recognize that in serving God we will experience perfect freedom, and that “…we, surely trusting in your defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries…” Think about what it would be like to live without ever being intimidated through the intentional manipulation of fear by some other person. How freeing would that be? Our prayer this morning is exactly that. By fully accepting who we are as beloved children of God we have no need to be intimidated by anyone, nor do we need to engage in the cruel act of intimidation.
If on Sunday we prayed for an entire week lived in God’s favor, this is one of the ways to experience that.