Synod Assembly – Be Not Afraid
The theme for the NJ Synod Assembly this year was “Be Not Afraid.” Interestingly enough, I have preached on this very topic on numerous occasions. It’s one of those Bible verses that brings comfort and hope and one that we need to hear over and over again. Clearly, we are in need of hearing these words.
The word, Fear, is mentioned nearly five hundred times in the Bible and nearly one-quarter of those references are some form of ‘Fear Not’ or ‘Be Not Afraid.’ Many times it is spoken to people who are trembling in fear over some type of encounter with the ‘Holy’: shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night, or God uttering the words in the book of Revelation.
I believe that it was very important to have this theme as the centerpiece of our gathering as a Synod. We live in a fear-filled world. All too often, people use fear to motivate us to do things we wouldn’t normally do. In addition, as we move forward, living into all of the change that is necessary for us to be the church in this time and place, we will be afraid. Things will be different and we can’t even foresee how different they will be.
The promise and hope are contained in what is the second part of the sentence: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” The promise of God’s presence with us in every trial we face can never be minimized. It is an amazing promise that fills us with awe, peace, and wholeness. We are never alone, no matter what we face.
May this always be your hope.