Fear of Our End [Beyond Sunday]

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures;

he leads me beside still waters;

he restores my soul.

He leads me in right paths

for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,

I fear no evil;

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff—

they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

my whole life long.

-Psalm 23

It has been said: getting old isn’t easy, but the alternative is worse.  Most people carry a fear of both dying and of growing old.  But, surveys show that older people are usually happier than anyone else.  And as Christians, the core of our faith is that death indeed holds no power.  [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to dive into these scriptures and questions during your devotion time.

Read:

Reflect:

  • Take a look at the Service of Death and Resurrection in the United Methodist Hymnal (#870) or online at umcdiscipleship.org.  Make a plan for your service.  What scriptures would you like read?  What hymns or songs sung? Notice how you feel during the process.  What questions does it raise for you about dying?

Do:

  • Ask a guide: Invite to lunch someone you consider to be in the “next stage of life”.  Ask them about their experience of aging and what they have learned along the way.  Share your fears about growing older and see how they respond.

Share:

  • Find a song you hope would summarize your life when you die. Share it in our Facebook group or on Twitter and Instagram (tag us @dpumc).

 

Fear of What’s To Come [Beyond Sunday]

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good;

-1 Thesselonians 5:16-21

It is impossible to know what is ahead. Sometimes we fear that change will mean loosing thing we love.  Sometimes we fear we’ll miss out on fun or opportunities.  But if we are focused on our fears, they multiply.  If we can be grateful for the present moment, it is easier to move forward into what God has in store.    [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to dive into these scriptures and questions during your devotion time.

Read:

Reflect:

  • Journal about a future event or possibility you are anxious about.
    • Write a title at the top of the page.
    • Write the facts you know next 
    • Divide the next section of the page in half.  On one side write the three things you are most afraid of.  On the other, write three things you hope for.
    • Below write a prayer naming your hope to God and asking for discernment in the midst of fear.

Do:

  • Gratitude Cards: Get a stack of index cards or post-it notes.  Each day, write on at least one card, something you are grateful for.  At the end of the week, go through all the cards, giving thanks to God for all the good things in your present.

Share:

  • Write out one thing you hope for the future and share it in our Facebook group or on Twitter and Instagram (tag us @dpumc).

 

Fear of What’s Out There [Beyond Sunday]

Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!

-Genesis 4:8-11

Yes, you are your brother (and sister)’s keeper.  Yet we too often approach the world around us with suspicion.  Fear says you must compete and others seek your life.  But facts say we are better off when we work together and that Americans are safer today than they’ve been in decades.  Faith calls us to quiet our fears and reach out with love.     [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to dive into these scriptures and questions during your devotion time.

Read:

Reflect:

  • Find a news story about something that worries you or makes you afraid.  Take note of who is quoted and how they use statistics (if they do).   Now try and find the same event reported in at least two other sources.
    • What facts are consistent?  Can you verify them?
    • Who uses language that elicits fear?  What do they have to gain from you being afraid?
    • Faithful responses are shaped by love of neighbor.  How could you respond to this story with love of all involved? 

Do:

  • Lectio Divina: Find a quiet place where you can focus.  Choose one of the scriptures above.  Read through it slowly aloud.  Listen for a phrase or image that captures your attention.  Read it a second time and try to hone in on a word.  Take some time to ponder that workd and image.  Share with God what you hear and ask how this should shape you today.  REad the passage once more giving thanks for God’s word to you.

Share:

  • Take a picture of something you fear  or use the one from last week. Write out why you fear this and share it in our Facebook group or on Twitter and Instagram (tag us @dpumc).

 

Understanding Fear [Beyond Sunday]

But Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” 31 Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against this people, for they are stronger than we.” 32 So they brought to the Israelites an unfavorable report of the land that they had spied out, saying,
-Numbers 13:30-32

Everyone is afraid of something.  With good reason, fear can protect us from danger and helps us learn our limits as children.  But we get into trouble when fear rules our lives.  God will call us to do scary things, so we must learn to evaluate our fears, take the wisdom that is there and then move beyond into greater life.     [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to dive into these scriptures and questions during your devotion time.

Read:

Reflect:

  • Recall a time from your childhood that you were afraid.  As you tell that story to yourself or someone else, take note of:
    • What your fear felt like
    • What was the threat you were responding to
    • How the threat was resolved
    • Where might God have been at work
  • Name something you fear now.  Describe it to yourself or someone else and especially note:
    • What you fear feels like
    • What is the threat your responding to and how realistic is it?
    • What resolution do you hope for
    • How might God be at work in this

Do:

  • Praying the Scriptures: Take one of the scriptures above and read it through.  Identify the promises offered and list them using the words of the verses.  Pray to God by first reading a promise from the text and then offering your own experience of that promise fulfilled or naming your need for that promise in your life now.

Share:

  • Be a part of our Brave Challenge.  This week take a picture of something you fear and share it in our Facebook group or on Twitter and Instagram (tag us @dpumc) with a caption about why you’d like to overcome that fear.