Located in South Tampa and witnessing to the love of God for over 90 years. Committed to a neighborhood presence, worldwide outreach and a deep heritage of Christian faith.

Beyond Fear

From The Presbytery of Tampa Bay 2016 Bible Study

John 20:19-23

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

For Discussion

“Fear is the cheapest room in the house,” the Sufi mystic Hafez wrote. And that’s the “room” which we find the disciples inhabiting in John 20:19 — the room labeled “fear.” The disciples are afraid because they themselves still haven’t seen the Risen Jesus. So, fearing Jesus’ enemies, the disciples have retreated inward and locked the door in an attempt to hide from everything and everyone who’s scary “out there.” The problem with going into this sort of lock-down mode, though, is that it actually limits, inhibits and diminishes us. Instead of finding safety and protection, we find ourselves stuck in that cheapest room of which Hafez spoke. When you’re stuck like that, there’s only one solution. “When a group of people are stuck,” Rabbi Edwin Friedman once said, “the only way for them to get unstuck is to go on an adventure.” And it’s an adventure, in fact, which the Risen Jesus comes to send his disciples out on, saying in John 20:21, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Jesus sends them (and us) out to carry on his own great, earth-shaking, life-changing, creation-renewing, God-incarnating mission in the world. And that mission is, in the words of St. Augustine, “the greatest of all adventures” because it is an adventure beyond fear into the fullness of life, lived, shared, indwelt and energized by the Spirit of God.

For Reflection

• In the “brave new world” of post-Christian America, what are your fears for your church and its future?

• How does fear of what might be “out there” (either in the future or in the secular world around us) limit, inhibit or diminish your discipleship here and now?

• If you stepped out from under your fears, what new adventure in faith might the Spirit of Jesus be ready to send you out on?Will you say “yes” to that great adventure?

Prayer

Jesus, breathe life into us anew. Set us free for all fear and fill us with a boldness born of your Spirit, so that we may live the adventure which you rose to send us on, faithfully and fully for you. Amen.

By Rev. Ron Pfeifer Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Inverness. His wife, Rev. Nan Riddle, is also an ordained minister. Between them, they have six children and two and a half grandchildren.
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