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Summary: Jesus has the power to help us rise above our fears and doubts

Easter 2C

April 15, 2007

John 20:19-31

“Rising Above the Fear”

There was a beer party out in the woods and, all of a sudden there was a downpour of rain and thunder. Two young men ran for about 10 minutes in the pouring rain, and finally reached their car just as the rain let up. They jumped in the car, started it up and headed down the road, laughing and, of course, still drinking one beer after the other.

All of a sudden an old man’s face appeared outside the passenger window, and he tapped lightly on the window! The man on the passenger side screamed out, "Ahhhhhhh! Look at my window!!! There’s an old guy’s face there!" (Was this a ghost?)

The old man kept knocking, so the driver said, "Well, open the window a little and ask him what he wants!" So, the passenger rolled his window down part way and, scared out of his wits, said, "What do you want?"

The old man softly replied, "Do you have any cigarettes?"

The passenger, terrified, looked at the driver and said, "He wants a cigarette."

"Well, give him a cigarette! HURRY!!" the driver replies.

So he fumbles around with the pack and hands the old man a cigarette and yells to the driver, "Step on it!!!", rolling up the window in terror.

Now going about 80 miles an hour, they calm down, and they start laughing again, and the passenger says, "What do you think of that?"

The driver replies, "I don’t know. How could that be? I am going pretty fast."

Then all of a sudden AGAIN there is a knock, and there is the old man again.

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaah, there he is again!" the passenger yells.

"Well, see what he wants now!" yells back the driver.

He rolls down the window a little ways and shakily says, "Yes?"

"Do you have a light?" the old man quietly asks.

The driver throws a lighter out the window at him & rolls up the window & yells, "STEP ON IT!"

They are now going about 100 miles an hour and still guzzling beer, trying to forget what they had just seen and heard, when all of a sudden again there is more knocking!


The passenger rolls down the window & screams in stark fear, "WHAT DO YOU WANT?"

The old man replies, "You want some help getting out of the mud?"

Since 9/11, I believe that we, the citizens of the U.S. have a better understanding & appreciation for the fear experienced by the disciples in the days following the crucifixion & resurrection of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. Heightened security at airports, courthouses, strategic facilities & schools is, in part, our reaction to those “who are out to get us.” Terrorism scares us, and many people wonder if we will ever truly feel safe again. How will we rise above this fear which permeates the whole fabric of our being?

First of all, I think we need to realize that we all have fears. Dave Berry, the satirist and humorist once noted: “All of us are born w/ a set of instinctive fears - of falling, of the dark, of lobsters, of falling on lobsters in the dark, or speaking before a Rotary Club, & of the words "Some Assembly Required."

Second, there are two kinds of fear: irrational fear – like the fear of facial hair or fear of being attacked by the Village People. I could name more, but I have a fear of making lists, so I can’t. This type of fear keeps us from doing things we might otherwise want to do & it impairs our ability to trust.

The other is healthy fear. Fear doesn’t have to be a bad thing. There are many fears you & I possess that might be looked on positively. Healthy fears that make us sensitive to the dangers that are a part of life, helping us to stay alive, fall into that category. For instance: When driving on the highway, we should be afraid to travel on the side of approaching traffic…or when someone gives up smoking because they are afraid of developing lung cancer… Healthy fear keeps us safe: it keeps us from aimlessly walking out into oncoming traffic or touching the hot burner on a stove.

To a degree, the disciples were engaged in healthy fear. John tells us that “the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews.” They had watched as Jesus, their Master & leader (but more importantly, friend) had been horrendously treated, crucified & died. Is it any wonder that they were concerned for their safety? They didn’t want the same thing to happen to them.

But they were also engaged in an unhealthy fear that trapped & controlled them. Even though they had received Mary’s news of Jesus’ glorious resurrection, here they are confined by their fear. It was a prison of their own making which prevented them from sharing the ministry that had been a part of their live w/.

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