“What on earth is the world coming to!” You may have asked yourself these words in the light of the recent spate of terrorism inspired violence. We are constantly bombarded by television images and other media reports of them. But this time the violence isn’t just happening in places we would normally associate such violence to happen. Over the last several days, several highly publicised cases of terrorism inspired violence in the UK and then here in Melbourne’s blue-chip postcode of Brighton, are reminders that we are not isolated nor immune from such things happening in our backyard.

As a result, fear of being caught up in any terrorism-related violence, let alone any violence, occurring at any moment are making many people feel anxious and stressed. It seems those things we enjoy doing such as going to the movies, riding public transport or going to the MCG to watch our favourite AFL team or AAMI Park, if you follow rugby, to watch the Melbourne Storm NRL team or the Rebels ARL team may now lose the joyous excitement they once held for us. Instead, fear is driving people to become more vigilant of the spaces they share with others. For instance, just the other day I rode the train to the city for a meeting and rode it back again. As I travelled back and forth on the train I found I was being extra vigilant of where I sat, who was sitting or standing by me even the type of bag they were carrying on them. Fear has a way of influencing our behaviour and the way we view others. The stoic amongst us may find they are not immune from the far-reaching tentacles of fear.

So, in the light of our troubled times, the text from Matthew 28, referred to as the ‘Great Commission” text finds us amidst our fears.

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 18 – 20)

Two brief comments. First is the word “Go” (verse19) It is a verb, a doing word a word which implies action. As Jesus spoke these words to the disciples he may well have been mindful of the fears they held in the present and for the future, and so, he reminds them that the mission of God, the mission he was entrusting to them (and to we of the 21st century church) would not be hindered by their fears or by fear itself. The Holy Spirit of God is continually active in the world and in the church as the church faithfully goes about the task of manifesting Gods, love, grace and communion to the world.

Second, with the command to ‘go’ and do the mission of God in the world, a world imprisoned by fears of all types, there is the promise:

“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (verse 20). These words of promise are important for ourselves. We are promised Jesus’ presence and ongoing love and support no matter what may come, not even fear from terrorism inspired violence, as we go about loving God and neighbour.

May we each find our hope and consolation in the promise of Jesus’ ongoing presence.

Peace be with you.

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