The Rector's Blog
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July 7, 2016, 3:41 PM

“I told him not to reach for it!”


On a video that was posted on social media yesterday, this is what a police officer, who had just shot the driver of a car who had just told him that he had a gun in the car, and a license, and he was going to get his wallet out to show the officer.  The officer seems to have thought he was going for the gun, not the license.  As you probably know, or could guess, the officer is white and the driver was black (he died with his girlfriend and daughter there in the car with him).

Social media erupted (the girlfriend posted a video of post-shooting events on Facebook) and demonstrators showed up at the governor’s house.  I watched the video, and the primary emotion I heard in the officer’s voice was fear.  Things had obviously gotten out of hand, and he had no real idea what to do about any of it.

I think we let fear dictate far too much of our decisions, our policies, and our responses to events.

Fear eliminates thought, destroys judgment, and leaves us at the mercy of our most visceral reactions.  Fear takes away time - time for second chances, consideration, and respect for others.

Yet what was the first thing the angels said when they spoke to men in the Old Testament, and to Mary?

“Fear not!”

God does not want us to be afraid.  Allow me to repeat: God does not want us to be afraid.

Why might that be?

Is it so we can live in comfort, secure from threats?  I don’t think so.  Threats certainly abound, seemingly without limit.  And even with our best efforts, we cannot wall ourselves off from threats.

But in any effort to avoid all threats, we run the risk of cutting ourselves off from one another, from those in need, and those who live in fear.

A lot of minorities in this country live in fear.  Some fear arrest for having no documentation that they are here legally.  Others fear arrest because too many people much like themselves have died in police custody or been sent to prison.  Others fear harassment and bullying and condemnation because their sexuality is not of the right kind.

So the question is, do our fears make us act in ways that causes fear in others?

I wonder … what can we do?

If I have any advice, it would be:

DO NOT BE AFRAID.  Have courage; God is here, within us, within those we fear, and within those who fear us. 

There is no fear God cannot vanquish.


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