“He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?” Luke 24:38
There have been so many times that when something good has come my way, I started wondering if it can last and when it will be taken back. Have you ever felt that way?
Long aga, pagans in Germany, Holland, and Britain believed this way. For instance, if Johann met Hans in the forest and said, “Hey Hans! I just got the horse I wanted and at a great price, too! In a flash of a second, both men would GASP. Johann would run to the nearest tree and start pounding on it.
Pagans believed that the gods lived in trees and if they heard about any human happiness or joy, they would cause mischief. So, Johann realizing his mistake in the “listening” forest, would rap on trees to drive the gods away.
Ever used the phrase, “knock on wood,” and then rap your knuckles on the closest table or piece of wood, or on your head if wood wasn’t available? The phrase filled the same purpose as if saying: “May my good fortune suffer no reversal.”
In our lives, it seems it’s either “Thy will be done” or “knock on wood.” Either God is working for our good, or we have to work for our own good.
God must be very sad to see us robbed of happiness and joy as we receive God’s blessings simply out of fear. Furthermore, some feel that the only way to hold onto the joy of life is to perform good deeds. They believe they will risk losing things of value if they don’t go through certain rituals. As a result, those parts of the Christian life that are there to bring us closer to the heart of God, sometimes end up as rituals performed out of duty and fear.
For instance, many good Episcopal parents have said to me, “I better get my child baptized in case something happens to him/her.” This implies that if the child is not baptized and, God forbid, the child should die, the child would be left out of heaven. For me, that is just “bull.” I tell the family to just look at their child. Then I ask if they think a loving and benevolent God would cast out of God’s kingdom in heaven this innocent child, God’s beloved? Indeed, my God would not!
When Europe was stricken with plague and large numbers were dying, those healthy – in mortal dread of becoming ill – flocked to the churches and cathedrals. They didn’t go to church out of a reverence for God, but they did so because of the fear of the plague. As soon as the plague abated, their zest for the worship of God also abated.
Our Lord desires an intimate, honest relationship with us – not a relationship rooted in fear of loss or failure. When we hear or read in scripture about “the fear of God,” or “the fear of the Lord,” it doesn’t mean we are “afraid” of God. But it means we have respect for God. This reverence is born out of trust in God’s love, the One who loves us completely and unconditionally, not merely to avoid disaster or ill circumstance.
So, enjoy that new “horse,” or car, or lottery winnings without ever having to “knock on wood.” May you have good success and luck without worry of reversal, at least from God’s point of view!
Below is the bulletin for this Sunday, July 11, 2021, The 7th Sunday after Pentecost. You can view the 10:30 AM Service on YouTube or Facebook or you can come in person to join with the congregation either at 8 AM for Rite I Holy Eucharist without music or at 10:30 AM for Rite II Holy Eucharist and music. We look forward to you being with us. PAX. Fr. Bill+