“The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.” Philippians 4:5, 6
Epiphany Sermon Video
Click below to hear The Rev. Frank Allen’s Sunday sermon preview for the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, January 31st, 2021.
Dear People of St. David’s,
I pray that you and yours are safe and well on these cold January days and want to offer a way for God to bring more peace to your life and for us to bring more God to our lives.
We’re living in a time of high anxiety and fear. Oh, there have been times of greater challenge than this, but this is the time were are living in and we are on edge. I hear it in conversations with some of you. I read it in your emails. It comes up to me in my prayers for you and your families. It comes to me in my prayers and conversations with God about my own life.
Some of our concern is well-founded and some of it is coming to us from outside sources that feed our concerns and fears beyond what is healthy. Certainly, the pandemic is a concern and we are being affected by the loneliness and changes that have come to all of our lives as we try to keep ourselves and one another as safe as we can until the vaccines all come through. But a lot of our fears, anxiety, and concerns are being fed to us and we are eating it up at a voracious pace.
We all watch and read too much news. We are bombarded 24/7 with news and the news most of us receive is based on fear. The news, in whatever form we take it, is selling fear. It’s selling fear because the part of our brain tuned to fear is always looking for danger around us and will go to great lengths to make sure we’re safe. So, we are fed fearful stories and fearful opinions about what is happening in the world around us and we tune in, again and again, to make sure we’re safe. Oh, and do remember, they’re selling products to us when we tune in.
The result is that most of us now live in a higher state of fear and anxiety. We feel helpless to do anything about it. This is where God comes in. We are not alone. God is with us. God has a plan. God is sovereign. So, with God’s presence and power in mind, one of the ways I’ve found helpful in keeping my brain and life in better balance and with a deeper sense of confidence and hope is what I think of as “Praying the News.” I literally pray to God about almost every bit of news that crosses my brain.
Instead of getting worked up about politics or the challenge to achieve racial justice, the pandemic, the health of the earth, or whether the next ‘snowmaggedon’ is going to knock out the power – I pray. I pray to God to bless our nation and lead us on a better path. I pray for hearts to change so that everyone is safe and has equal opportunity and is loved just because they are. I pray for solutions to the pandemic. I pray for the health of the earth. I pray the weather is seasonable. I pray and then I thank. I thank God for being active in our world and in our lives as though ‘praying the news’ has opened the way for God to act, while at the same time bringing a deep peace in my heart because God is here and we are safe in God’s hands.
Try it. The next time you open a news app, read a paper, magazine, or watch some news station, say a little prayer about what’s going on and how God might act. Remember that God has a plan and because God is good, it’s a good plan. And having prayed the news and giving thanks to God, get on with your life. Be the Christian God is calling you to be. Keep your focus, not on the fear, but on walking the way of love. I can assure you it works and your calm and peace and love will be part of God’s plan to change the world into God’s vision for God’s world.
Grace and Peace and Love,