To Be Carried Away from Fear

Advent is preparation for the demands of newness that will break the tired patterns of fear in our lives.                         Walter Bruggeman

I’ve been riding a rollercoaster of fear for a while– maybe a lifetime.  About 2:30 AM this morning, mostly in the dark, I was writing in my journal. There I was again, unable to stop my mind from going to all the places I cannot change. Based on a few assumptions and fueled by nighttime anxieties, I re-enacted just one of the tired patterns of fear in my life. The dark makes it easy to imagine scenes laced with a few well-placed “facts” that prove why I must rescue, protect and manage a life—not my own.

I’m having trouble letting go of that dark, the fear of what might be, that Buechner says I wrap myself in like a straightjacket. Even after wise counsel from my partner, a sermon this morning (by the same partner) that said we don’t orchestrate what is possible, and pleading prayer, the dark still lurks. But, there is a glimmer of light. My husband said I need to live my own life.

Listening anew to the Advent stories in Luke’s chapter 3, Luke says that Jesus will come to baptize me with the Holy Spirit and fire. I’ve lived a long life seeking God’s presence. I’m not sure that this has ever happened to me and I am sure I really don’t know what that means.

My friend Walter Bruggeman told me in my reading this morning. He says that means

…we may be visited by a spirit of openness, generosity, energy, that “the force” may come over us, carry us to do obedient things we have not yet done, kingdom things we did not think we had in us, neighbor things from which we cringe. The whole tenor of Advent is that God may act in us, through us, beyond us, more than we imagined…

 And then there is that part about Advent being preparation that will break the tired patterns of fear that I so desperately need to do.

 What Walter describes would be a far better example for both of my children, and my husband, rather than the maligned ‘help’ I think I must give. I’ve asked God for guidance to let go of the fear that undergirds the subtle things I do and say in my desperation to protect and rescue and manage that teardown people and relationships rather than build them.

So I begin this Advent asking God to come near to me so that I might get carried away from my fear to do obedient things that I haven’t done before—kingdom things that I didn’t think I had in me.

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