Do not be afraid!

By The Rev. Ute Molitor | Apr 09, 2020
Ute Molitor

Editor's Note: We live in a time when people most need the comfort of their houses of worship, but services have been canceled because of the pandemic. This is a space for local faith leaders to provide messages to their congregations and the community on a rotating basis. All faiths are welcome. Email News Director Daniel Dunkle, ddunkle@villagesoup.com, or call 706-6530 to sign up to contribute a message to this column.

As I sat at my desk one evening last week, looking up at Mt. Battie, there it was: The Star! As if it had to be. I felt immediate gratitude toward the volunteers who are lighting the star each night to give us hope and solace. Since the star is usually lit during the December holidays, it reminds me of the Christmas story. It affirms that God chooses to be born among and within each of us, under the most trying circumstances. In the vulnerable Christ-child God says to us: “I am with you and I need you to be with me. Don’t be afraid.” Throughout his life Christ embodies this mutual belonging through his inclusive love and compassion and his resistance to oppression and hypocrisy.

As we just journeyed again this year through Holy Week, we remembered how Christ endured the betrayals of Maundy Thursday. On Good Friday we witnessed his ultimate act of saying “I am with you” to all who suffer and feel abandoned as he was crucified, not to appease God but because of human fear and our need for control. His followers were first overcome with fear and grief, and many of them went into hiding. Then on Easter Sunday, the women witnessed that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb. They were told yet again, “Do not be afraid. He is risen! He is with you and he needs you!” They came face to face with the risen Christ the moment they dared to share this good news with others. By God’s grace, they dared to trust that God’s love – not oppression, not disease, not fear - has the final authority over who we all are. In our own day, God calls us all to rise up again out of our fear and into our deeper belonging to God and one another.

As the stone is rolled away from the tomb in the Easter story, so are we called to roll away the stones that keep us and others confined, isolated or oppressed during this pandemic. Let us praise every effort that rolls away the stone of scarcity thinking. Let us roll away the stone of scapegoating Asian Americans and the stone of racial inequality that leaves African-Americans and Latinos dying in greater proportion from this virus. Let us roll away barriers to greater access to healthcare, and work together to help people keep their jobs. Let us embolden those who have lost theirs by saying: “Do not be afraid. We have your back no matter what!” Let us roll away the stone of competition that is pitting states against each other in bidding wars for vital medical equipment and tests. Let us roll away stones that leave people feeling isolated and unsupported while trying to stay sober and sane in a time of “social distancing.” Let us hear the cries of overwhelmed families suffering domestic violence and address the threat of increased homelessness and food insecurity. Let us reach out to our isolated neighbors and roll away the stone of loneliness and depression wherever it may confine us.

Let us praise every effort to thank and support those who light stars in the dark and keep moving the stones away. Let us be grateful for the medical personnel and first responders, the cleaning staff, those who take care of the worker’s children, the grocery workers and delivery folks who keep us supplied. Let us be thankful for the mask makers, the pantry volunteers, the agencies that keep services going, every impulse we have to donate goods, share information, money, a caring call, a compassionate prayer. Christ models for us the agency of embracing life even in fearful times, as we are emboldened to open the doors of the heart in our community. We need each other! Together, we will be strong enough to roll away the stones of this pandemic. The way will open as we remind each other that Christ goes before us to meet him where we are. Giving ourselves to a power and purpose greater than ourselves, when the odds seem stacked against us, that is Easter living. It is in our spiritual DNA, people of God. Trust it, live it, say ‘yes’!

 

The Rev. Ute Molitor is from the First Congregational Church United Church of Christ in Camden.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Apr 14, 2020 15:35

“Do not be afraid. We have your back no matter what!” When hearing Maine's DHS commissioner share yesterday that the substance abuse hotline went from 100 calls per weak to over 3,000 the last week in March it showed me the importance of  Rev. Molitor's words.   Let's live up to what she closed with: " It is in our spiritual DNA, people of God. Trust it, live it, say ‘yes’!



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