I imagine that ministers - or pastors, priests or by whatever title they’re known - have a few fears. I know I do. And yes, I also know that I constantly remind people that the words most often said by Jesus in the Bible are “don’t be afraid.” I know that God is there, but I’m also just as human as you and sometimes I’m afraid, especially when those fears happen.
I’m sure I can’t be alone in being afraid that I won’t be there when I’m needed. We all might know that one, it’s pretty human and we’re all human. More about that in a moment.
It became real for me this past week. I was away in another part of the country when someone decided to welcome Pride month by smearing tar and eggs on the rainbow sidewalk that has been part of our church in Ponoka for several years now. First time this has happened. And I wasn’t there.
Here’s the thing, though, the thing about God being present when we’re experiencing the fear that we’re not. Members of our community stepped up. It was reported to the RCMP, it was cleaned up and repainted and when the media wanted to report on it, there were people to speak to them. Thanks to social media, I was able to contribute a statement, but others were there in person. I’m sure God was there when Graham Boyes told the media that “I'm glad that the people who did this targeted us, and not an actual at-risk person because sidewalks can be repainted.” I’m just as sure God was there when people of all ages were doing the painting. And the rainbow’s brighter than ever.
I wish I’d been there, but I couldn’t have done better than those that were and I’m grateful to them for that. I’m grateful for the many messages of support and encouragement the church received. I’m also grateful to God for all that and grateful for the reminder that God is there, inspiring people, connecting people and moving people to be what they’re meant to be: love.
Listen, there’s a lot of hate out there. There’s probably just as much written about why we hate and I’m sure it’s all practical, well reasoned and logical. But hate isn’t. It’s born in fear and ignorance, wilful and not. I believe we’re born in love, of love and wired for love. We give in to fear, we know hurt, we tire of learning and we close our hearts and shy away from relationships. But the love is still there. It’s the power of life, creativity, inspiration and compassion. And it’s still there.
Jesus shows us that. Jesus shows us that love is in us and around us and we are capable of living into the world. Just like Jesus. The divine spirit of love is in us - it’s what gives us life - just as it’s in the earth from which we come. It connects us and binds us to each other. The apostle Paul, in his writings, says we’re collectively just like a body, a body that needs all its parts - emphasis on all - and needs them all to be healthy in order for us to be whole. Wholly human and wholly humanity.
That means all of us. We’re all connected, even when we try so hard to not acknowledge that. Love will help us. Love will inspire us. Love wins.