Love Conquers Fear

Love Conquers Fear

Watch Pastor Kelly deliver this sermon or read the text below

Birth and Youth of Moses
Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.

The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him. “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,” she said. Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Yes.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, “because,” she said, “I drew him out[b] of the water.”

Exodus 2:1-10 (NRSV)

At this time of year, with Halloween just around the corner, there are lots of scary movies and shows on TV. And I know that many people find shows like that to be exciting. As a younger person, I always did too. But as I get older, I find that the world is scary enough for me, and I definitely don’t need scary movies to add to my anxiety.

Friends, to tell you the truth, there are lots of scary stories in the Bible too–stories about hate and racism, misuse of power and slavery, war, and injustice, beheadings and stonings and crucifixions, not to mention plagues and worldwide floods and the slaughtering of the innocent. Sometimes I wonder why we would want to read stories like these, and what in the world they have to teach us. To be totally honest, many of us tend to skip over them entirely because they scare us or make us sad.

I have always loved the Mr. Rogers quote that says: “When I was a boy, and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” Though today’s story of Moses happened because of the horrific choices of a self-centered ruler, there were still glimpses of goodness that could be found. Though the story is filled with sadness and broken hearts, it is also filled with incredible acts of love.

Folks, it is always nice to hear a happy story, isn’t it? It’s a story filled with love and joy when the sun is always shining, and everyone gets along. It warms our heart to hear stories like that. But the truth is life does not always work that way. The sun is not always shining. Sometimes it rains, and people are not always filled with love and joy. Sometimes they are angry, or grieving, or just plain tired.

Friends, for almost a hundred and fifty days now, with the help of our Oldtown daily email devotional, we have been looking for Glimpses of Grace in our lives. And even in the midst of a pandemic, a contentious political race, and stories of racism, hate, violence, injustice, hunger, job loss, poverty, and all-around fighting and societal unrest, we are seeing and experiencing glimpses of grace in our lives. Everything is not perfect. It is far from it. But our faith tells us that there is still love and kindness at work in the world, and sometimes it is the littlest thing or the simplest gift that can make a huge difference.

Whenever I think of the story of baby Moses, my heart breaks for his mother. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to know that to keep your child alive, you need to give it away. The unselfish love that she showed was unparalleled! But if we look closer at the story, we see more and more helpers popping up, more and more simple gifts being offered, and more and more love being shared.

Miriam watches over her brother Moses as he floats in the Nile River to make sure that he is okay, and then she runs up to the Pharaoh’s daughter–which put her in a very dangerous situation–to offer to get an Israelite woman to nurse the child. What a gift! What a sense of love!

Pharaoh’s daughter and her servants had instant compassion for Moses, and knowing that Moses was the baby of an Israelite, they went against the Pharaoh’s orders to keep the baby protected. Again, what a gift! What a sense of love!

If any of those people had responded in fear like Pharaoh, rather than love like Moses’ mother, the story would have ended very differently. But the good news, my friends, is that Love Always Conquers Fear.

So I wonder, what might you be facing in your life today that you are afraid of? What darkness do you feel hanging over the path that you are journeying down? And what is stopping you from feeling joy and happiness in your life? Maybe you need to stop looking at the big picture and look for the simple gifts, or perhaps you need to set your fear aside and start loving yourself and those around you, or it may even be that you need to open your heart and allow God and others to love you.

Folks, the world that we live in is broken, and so many people in our communities are frustrated and afraid. We cannot wait any longer for things to miraculously change. We need to remember that we are the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth. And if we want to see the peaceable kingdom, if we want to live in a world where healing and wholeness and grace abound, then we need to stop being afraid, and we need to start filling our world with love.

Jesus always teaches us to love our enemies. Did you ever realize that once you love your enemy, they are no longer your enemy? Just like Pharaoh’s daughter had compassion for Moses even though he was an Israelite, when we love our enemies, then we open our hearts to have compassion for them as well.

So, brothers and sisters in Christ, as you go out into the week ahead, and you face sad or scary situations, how can you replace your fear with a sense of love? Can you look for the good around you? Or the helper in the crowd? Or could you even be the helper in the crowd? Think about the simple gifts of love that you can share, being assured that no matter what situation you find yourself in, love can always conquer fear!

My friends, may it be so. Thanks be to God, Amen!

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