Fear. The word is on many lips these days. Fear of terrorist attacks. Fear of lost jobs and a failing economy. Fear of illness and death. Fear wrought of racism. In the shadows of the lengthening days of December, fear can overwhelm us. Panic can set in as we view our lives through a lens of anxiety. As the hymn writer William Gay has written, “the verities we knew seem shaken and untrue.”
Martin Luther reminds us that when fear engulfs our lives, we should turn to God in prayer. “Should anything transpire to give you care or anxiety–and such will be the case, for many trials will befall you on earth–make no effort to escape it, be it what it may. Have no care or anxiety. Turn to God with prayer, with supplication, entreating [God] to accomplish for you all you would seek to effect by care. And do so in thankfulness that you have a God solicitous for you and to whom you may freely come with all your anxieties.” (From a sermon for the fourth Sunday in Advent, 1521)
And so the expectant, brooding days of Advent are here. We slow our pace and quiet our minds. We rest in God’s embrace, opening our hearts to hear God’s words for us. We have come to a time when we, as a community of faith, bring to God through prayer the needs and sorrows and failures of the whole world, as well as the fears and worries we harbor in our hearts. It is a time when our fears are replaced by God’s peace that exceeds our human understanding. May this be a holy time, sisters, an incubating time when you are made hale, healthy and whole.
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director of Women of the ELCA. This blog first ran on Dec. 1, 2014.
Photo by Benjamin Nussbaum. Used with permission.