The hope jar I made for this past Sunday sits on the dining room table at home. Yesterday, Cora helped me take out not just one but all of my hopes. She helped me set them out on the table in front of me. She asked me to read them one by one. Not just once, but twice. Hope for peace, racial justice, healing, a vaccine and delight. What are you hoping for?
And what fear is getting in the way of those hopes?
See, fear often gets in the way. It gets in the way of hope. What if we are disappointed? It gets in the way of authentic relationship. Our anger, hurt or disappointment might damage our relationship. Fear gets in the way of healing – we fear the pain and hurt that we have locked away. Fear gets in the way of speaking truth – someone might be offended or worse yet reject us for being who we truly are. Fear gets in the way of curiosity – we may not like the answers we find or we might discover that reality is more complicated than we had believed. Fear gets in the way of joy – we are so afraid of losing what we love that we don’t even allow ourselves to delight in it!
I think of my child’s fear – her call in the night: “Mom! Mom!” or “Daddy!” She is afraid of elk in her bedroom or moths and mosquitoes in her bed. And in her fear, she calls out.
Our scripture reading for Sunday (Genesis 21:8-21) starts out with a family celebration and ends with family separation. Sibling rivalry stokes a mother’s fears and she responds by rejecting her child’s half-brother, her husband’s other son. Sarah, who initiated the relationship between Abraham and the family’s servant Hagar, convinces Abraham to cast his son Ishmael and Ishmael’s mother Hagar out from their home. Fear gets in the way of relationship, trust and love. And Hagar, lost with her child in the wilderness fears for Ishmael’s life. In her fear she calls out. And she finds that God is already there.
Sometimes we are surprised by grace. Sometimes hope catches us unawares. Sometimes a long-forgotten prayer is answered unexpectedly. Sometimes what seems like a giant mess is the seismic shifting that needs to happen in order for change, life-giving change to occur.
I can’t help but wonder…. What would happen if, instead of bottling our fear up, we let it out. What if we, like Hagar, like our children, were to call out? Might we find that God is already there?
I hope you’ll join us on Sunday to explore this some more. You won’t want to miss Jacki Jensen’s piano solo, our call to worship led by Lucas Gardner and his grandpa Lee, or Sandra Drage’s reflections on fear.
In peace and love,