In The Episcopal Church, we strive to love our neighbors as ourselves and respect the dignity of every person.
Blessing of the Animals
A Message from Fr. Michael
Living in Anxious Times
Holy Eucharist Service
Holy Spirit Lutheran Church
3075 Bees Ferry Road
Charleston, SC 29414
The Book Study group, which meets every Monday evening at The Harmony, has just completed its study and discussion of the book UNAFRAID: Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times, written by Adam Hamilton. As we enter the last quarter of 2019 and prepare our hearts for earnest consideration of stewardship and the coming year, there are a number of matters explored in our discussions of living unafraid with courage and hope in uncertain times, which I think are worthy of our prayerful consideration.
In common terms, Adam Hamilton defines “worry” as “imagining a negative future that may never (and likely will never) happen.” We would do well to remember that Jesus addressed this human inclination in the Sermon on the Mount:
“And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? … So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own”. (Matthew 6: 27, 34)
In other words, we are admonished by our Lord and Savior not to take things that may or may not happen in the future and drag them into the present. So, how do we refrain from worrying and stressing about what might happen? Interestingly, Buddhists, Christians and many therapists agree that part of the solution is something called mindfulness.
So much of the anxiety we experience is a product of bringing the future into the present. We think about what could happen, what might happen. It is like cramming all of this future experience into the present. We don’t allow ourselves any time in the present to feel freedom or joy or to engage meaningfully in our relationships. As a consequence of that we feel anxious, we feel worried, we may even experience fear. The formal practice of mindfulness is geared toward allowing us to push away the depression or sadness from ruminating on the past. Ruminating and worrying about the future is equally destructive. Instead mindfulness allows us to be engaged in the present moment.
John Lennon, musician, author and poet once wrote: “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance … All hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”
Perhaps there is not better example of this then our Patron St. Francis of Assisi, whom we celebrate this week. St. Francis of Assisi wrote:
"What do you have to fear? Nothing. Whom do you have to fear? No one. Why? Because whoever has joined forces with God obtains three great privileges: omnipotence without power, intoxication without wine, and life without death."
Adam Hamilton suggests we examine our anxiety and fears by following a course of analysis based on an acronym F.E.A.R.
F: Face you fears with faith.
E: Examine your assumptions in light of the facts.
A: Attack your anxieties with action.
R: Release your cares to God.
During the upcoming Stewardship campaign and season, and perhaps beyond, I invite you to say the following prayer with me when you begin each day. At this particular time in my life, I find it says everything which need be said, and provides every petition to God, which hopefully will encourage and empower me fully release all of myself to Him.
God who breathed life into the first human in Eden, you are as near to us as our own breath. Your Spirit moves within and around us. We are grateful for this moment and this day. Take our fears and worries about tomorrow and our regrets and hurts we carry from yesterday. We release ourselves and our time to you. Amen.
 Adam Hamilton, UNAFRAID – Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times [New York, NY, Convergent Books, 2018