My husband died before he had a chance to write several books that were in his head and heart. I know many of these” lost publications” are written on the hearts of his students, colleagues, and his own children for which I will always be grateful. One unpublished work came to me recently as many of us are learning how to live with a heightened sense of fear in our country and our world. It is from I John 4:18a, There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.
As my husband witnessed the hatred that killed Treyvon Martin shortly before his death, he began lamenting that fear is becoming the norm and love is getting cast out. Thus the title of his unwritten book was: Perfect Fear Casts out Love.
Advent invites us to listen to our fears just as the characters in the Biblical narrative experienced fear. When Gabriel came to Mary, she was told not to be afraid. Fear came over Zechariah and Elizabeth’s neighbors when his speech returned. The shepherds were terrified when an angel of the Lord stood before them. Fear was as much a part of the human experience then as it is for us now.
In her book, Healing Through the Dark Emotions: The Wisdom of Grief, Fear, and Despair, Miriam Greenspan says,
“Almost any phobia or fear you can name, at its core, gets down to these six: fear of pain, loss, death, vulnerability, isolation, and chaos. To a large degree we live with these basic fears without paying much attention to them. Few of us walk around saying, “I’m scared of pain, loss, death, vulnerability, isolation, and chaos. What about you? …But there are times when fear comes knocking on your door and walks right in uninvited.”
These next weeks of Advent, I am going to step out in “fear and trembling,” to meditate on the fears inside of us and around us in our world.
Rev. Jolene Bergstrom Carlson