Confessions: Fear over Faith
Welcome to April 2020. The world is at a standstill due to a pandemic. The economy is collapsing all around us. Everyone is trying to figure out what we should do and how to move forward with the bits of our lives that we can control. If you happen to be like me, a self-identified anxious person, fear consumes most of your thoughts. I wish I could say that my faith outweighs my fear, but that isn't true. Fear is my vice and control is my addiction. One of the many reasons that my husband and I moved to the Episcopal church was due to the structure of worship. The constant rhythm of the worship service and observance of the church year provides us with a sense of reverence and security. For me, I value the safety of knowing what to expect. I rely on the traditions and prayers repeated week after week because they give my anxious mind room to breathe. Easter is usually a hard season for me. Finding joy in the midst of struggle is something I am still learning. Believing that life comes from death and that somehow love is the most powerful force in the universe is an idea I ascent to easily, but it is hard for me to believe and live in my daily life. Truthfully, this probably makes me a very bad Christian or a really honest one. Most of the time, it just depends on the day. This past Easter Sunday was difficult for all of us who confess to be Christian, I think. As I drank coffee in bed, wearing the same sweatpants I had worn for at least two days, watching my priest conduct a beautiful service in a building proclaiming the hope of new life, the hope of resurrection, I couldn't help but think about how ridiculous that seemed and how ridiculous I felt. Then I remembered Easter is so much more than a celebration meant for family pictures and extravagant hats. The observance of the resurrection of Jesus is about a God whose love knows no bounds and whose death brings life to the whole of the cosmos. Easter at its core is the remembrance of a revelation--an unveiling of the truest nature of reality and God. My observance of this high-holy-day in my faith tradition actually isn't about me living in the certainty and security of traditions. The resurrection isn't something that is meant to make me feel good about the way I attempt to live my life. Jesus being raised from the dead as the foundation of my faith is not just a heart-warming story. It is a promise. It is a promise that even during the most uncertain of times, the deadliest of days, the pits of hell, the sickness of pandemics, and the clouds of uncertainty, that God's love will transcend my understanding. It is a promise that my fear and faith can and do co-exist just as closely as life and death, because one leads to the other in a circle that has no beginning or end. The fragility of life is more real to me right now than it has been for a long time, and rejoicing in anything is not where I find myself. But, perhaps, there can be hope, even now, as the things we thought would provide us with what we need to live begin to dissolve. The death of our idolatry to normal and the unveiling of the ways all lives are truly connected is a much more appropriate Easter revelation than egg hunts and formal piety ever could provide. Even on the days when fear and death seem to have the final word, which are many at the moment, the promise of life from a God who faces death in the name of love is one in which I can hope.