« Confessing Our Fears | Main | Images from Iowa (Conservative) »

"Be Not Afraid"

Posted on Monday, April 16, 2007 at 08:00AM by Registered CommenterMarshall Massey in | Comments3 Comments

ew cameo.jpgFriend Paul Buckley, the featured presenter at our Iowa (Conservative) Midyear Meeting, corrected me the moment I greeted him, and rightly so.

“Yes, we have in fact met face-to-face before,” he said. “It was at the FGC Gathering in Kalamazoo in 1995, at mealtime. I remember clearly, because Peggy Spohr was sitting at the table, too, and that was the first time I met her, and now I’m married to her.”

Lordy, friends, I have no memory of that at all! I do know my memory’s not the best any more, but to be totally blanked-out about an occasion that momentous kinda frightens me.

Paul did a fine job with his presentation — as was only to be expected from the co-editor of The Quaker Bible Reader, the editor of Twenty-first Century Penn, and the author of Owning the Lord’s Prayer and numerous essays in Friends Journal. His theme for the weekend was “Be Not Afraid”, a subject which he had initially planned to tie to the story of Peter in the Gospels. However, as he told me over lunch the first day, after he had worked out his whole presentation and written out everything he planned to say, he “received orders from upstairs” — that is, a leading from God — to the effect that God wanted something different. So in the end he gave us something that wound up in a very different place from what he’d planned.

The first two sessions he led were still as he’d originally planned, however. In the first, he talked about his personal fears, such as those that were aroused during his struggle with prostate cancer; about corporate fears, such as our secular society arouses in order to manipulate its members; and about the fear of God which is mentioned in the Bible. He said that fear is natural; even Jesus felt fear in the Garden of Gethsemane. He quoted the old Biblical saw that “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10 / Proverbs 9:10). As regards our corporate fears, he argued that “be not afraid” is “the ultimate countercultural message in America today;” but he also indicated that fear of the Lord is a Good Thing.

And I won’t go into how he reconciled those last two points, because I think it might make a good exercise for you, my esteemed readers, and me, to work out our own answers on the matter. — Your comments are certainly most welcome!

Paul offered us some queries on the subject of fear. (He noted that “part of the genius of Quakerism is turning platitudes into queries”.) As regards our personal fears, he offered: “When I’m afraid, do I remember God?” And as regards our corporate fears, he offered: “In political discourse, do I express as much respect, love, and compassion for my opponents as for my friends?”

One of the most moving moments, for me, though, came when Paul talked about how he, personally, came to know fear of the Lord. A voice came to him, a silent voice in his awareness that felt clearly from God, asking: Are you willing to give up your hopes and dreams? That, friends, struck me as a powerful query from God.

Paul’s own query to us, after he finished the subject of fear of the Lord, came in two parts — first: “Am I willing to give up my fears?”; and second: “am I ready to do so?”

I’ll post more about what happened in my next journal entry. Alas, I’m out of time this morning!

ew tiny.png

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (3)

Hey, Marshall-

After reading this series of posts you have about Paul Buckley at IYMC's Midyear Meeting, I'm sad that Way wasn't open for me to attend--or for any of us from Laughing Waters to attend.

When I had received the flyer about Midyear Meeting, I immediately felt a block, and I wrote it off as not knowing enough about Paul. As time went by, though, I never felt clear to make plans to attend. And then, two or three days before the session was to begin, I got sick with a very bad cold that's taken me more than a week to get over.

I'm glad you made this report, though. All three parts of it.

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

Apr 25, 2007 at 12:05PM | Unregistered CommenterLiz Opp

My own non-fear of the Lord may be tied to my message one morning that " 'Thy will be done' means having everything we truly want come to pass." Of course one must understand the implication that "It won't look at all like what we'd originally intended."

There is nothing but God worth fearing. And yet I still fear other things, sometimes--and prudence is really what we're called to follow much of the time; we have it for a reason. Less need for such fears if I just refrain from playing in traffic.

Sometimes I'm even afraid of God; I know he will act in my best interest--but since I don't know my own best interest, this might entail something I really won't care for. Meanwhile, I find even the occasional scarey episodes turning out well--which is really what should be our normal expectation, given that the only true power wishes us well.

It's like my attempt to write a love poem to God: "It would have to be
like a love poem to a bear
written in the bear's room
because there's nowhere else." Hast read Shardik?

Apr 25, 2007 at 12:29PM | Unregistered Commenterforrest curo

Liz, I'm sorry you didn't make it to Midyear Meeting, too. But I'm still hoping to see you at Yearly Meeting in late July.

forrest, I like that poem a lot! I also much appreciate your prose observations about fear of the Lord / fear of worldly matters. But no, I haven't read Shardik.

Apr 28, 2007 at 06:01AM | Registered CommenterMarshall Massey

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>