Be Not Afraid, part one

Note:  This is a series of five blog posts, based on a weekly series of talks at the Lenten luncheon series, sponsored by the Grand Island Minsterium. Each of the five churches that belongs to the Grand Island Ministerium was asked to provide a lunch and to provide a speaker to talk about aspects of fear and faith.
The first presentation was by St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church. The room at Trinity United Methodist Church was packed by people who eagerly anticipated a delicious lunch of stuffed shells and a fascinating and thoughtful presentation. The topic was fear that we are not good enough for God and for other people.  The speaker was the Rev. Tom Roman, one of two parochial vicars at St. Stephen’s.

Father Tom’s talk was passionate and enlightening. I feel that I am not the only person there who felt that Father Tom was talking directly to me. He said that God is infinite love and a sense of complete giving.

Father Tom explained that all of us are works in progress, beings in the process of being created by a God who loves us absolutely and completely.

As humans, we find it difficult to believe that God loves us so completely and that we are works in progress. We experience doubts about God and about ourselves. We do not believe that Jesus is preparing a place for us in heaven because we don’t feel that we are worthy of Jesus or of heaven.

Father Tom explained that one weakness that humans have is that we believe that we were not created right. By doing that, we say that God did a bad job in creating us. We judge ourselves and we judge others negatively. It causes us to be depressed and angry at the world. One way in which we judge ourselves and others negatively is prejudice. We choose a group of people and pronounce them not as good as ourselves. It could be racism or some other form of prejudice. Prejudice is a sin because we are rejecting God’s beautiful creations. We are saying that “those people” are not as good as we are, that God actually created junk.

Yet God creates us, not just to be good but to be the best that we can be. When we complain and express a desire to be someone else, “it is a slap to God,” said Father Tom.

I know all about that. I have always wanted to be someone else. I wanted to be tall and beautiful and successful in love and in my career. I wanted to have perfect eyesight and ears that worked right. However, I could not be someone else. I had to be me, with all of my flaws and with all of the gifts that I refused to recognize. In that, I am just like everyone else.

I did not see in me what God saw in me. “We are created to be amazingly beautiful,” Father Tom said.

Another weakness that humans experience is having the knowledge that God created them to be beautiful but, at the same time, believing that they cannot live up to God’s expectation of them.

“We have free will. We can say yes to God or to something else. We label ourselves and define ourselves by our sins,” Father Tom said.

Father Tom said, “God wants to help you with your problem. At the same time, he wants to heal many other problems that you have, including those that you are unaware of.”

“You are not the sum of your sins. If you think that, you will never change.”

Yet, humans at all stages of their lives are capable of change and of growth. Being a work in progress is the beauty of being fully human.

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