Last week, my friend and I were walking our dogs on a beautiful day on my beautiful street bordered by beautiful canals when a bicyclist passed us from behind. Our chatter continued, mostly along the lines of the warmth of the sun, the promise of spring, and when the ospreys might return to their Colington nests. The bicyclist returned, facing us this time, and I noticed that his neon green teeshirt bore an important message:
“Fear not” is a phrase found often in the Bible, spoken by God to the people of Israel in times of great distress, and by Jesus to his followers as they encountered opposition, storms, and confusion. “Fear not” are the words often spoken by angels and messengers to the people they startled and terrified when they appeared.
Fear not. What does that say to you today?
As the war in Europe enters a second week, it is a message I wish we could send to the bold people of Ukraine. The images coming out of that region are horrific. Over one million men, woman, and children are now war refugees. Countless lives have been lost, there is massive destruction of property, and Putin’s evil agenda seems to have no stopping point. When will it end? How will it end?
Into this moment, Psalm 27 appears. It is a long one. As you read it, offer God your fears. Offer God your worries. Offer God your troubles. And pray for the people in Ukraine and Russia who are caught in this madness.
Psalm 27 (Common English Bible)
The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Should I fear anyone?
The Lord is a fortress protecting my life.
Should I be frightened of anything?
2 When evildoers come at me trying to eat me up—
it’s they, my foes and my enemies,
who stumble and fall!
3 If an army camps against me,
my heart won’t be afraid.
If war comes up against me,
I will continue to trust in this:
4 I have asked one thing from the Lord—
it’s all I seek:
to live in the Lord’s house all the days of my life,
seeing the Lord’s beauty
and constantly adoring his temple.
5 Because he will shelter me in his own dwelling
during troubling times;
he will hide me in a secret place in his own tent;
he will set me up high, safe on a rock.
6 Now my head is higher than the enemies surrounding me,
and I will offer sacrifices in God’s tent—
sacrifices with shouts of joy!
I will sing and praise the Lord.
7 Lord, listen to my voice when I cry out—
have mercy on me and answer me!
8 Come, my heart says, seek God’s face.
Lord, I do seek your face!
9 Please don’t hide it from me!
Don’t push your servant aside angrily—
you have been my help!
God who saves me,
don’t neglect me!
Don’t leave me all alone!
10 Even if my father and mother left me all alone,
the Lord would take me in.
11 Lord, teach me your way;
because of my opponents, lead me on a good path.
12 Don’t give me over to the desires of my enemies,
because false witnesses and violent accusers
have taken their stand against me.
13 But I have sure faith
that I will experience the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living!
Our hope is in you, and you alone, Lord.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers.
14 Hope in the Lord!
Be strong! Let your heart take courage!
Hope in the Lord!