Dec. 13, 2015
The sky is falling.The sky is falling.
Anyone remember that? Chicken Little or Henny Penny.
This fable is old, very old–a version dates back to the teachings of the Buddha, some 500 years before the birth of Jesus. Some stories are worth telling over and over again.
You might remember that Disney made a Chicken Little movie about 10 years ago. This summer when my family and I traveled to California we stopped at the Walt Disney Family museum. It was there that I learned that Disney had also in the 30’s and 40’s produced some anti-Nazi short films. One of them being Chicken Little. In this 1943 version of the story, instead of breaking into the protected chicken yard, evil Foxy Loxy devises a plot (using lines from a book on Psychology or actually straight from Mein Kampf) to get the chickens to come out. Foxy Loxy drops a little piece of blue wood onto Chicken Little’s head and whispers, “the sky is falling”. Eventually Chicken Little and rest of the future plates of poultry, run out of the yard and into Foxy Loxy’s tummy–not so happily ever after.
All because they were afraid–afraid of the falling sky, and because they were afraid of that they were tricked into ignoring the very real danger of the fox. Of course as in all fables, the warning is not to be wary of foxes instead Nazis and more generally to be wary of those who manipulate peoples’ fears.
Sound familiar? It sure seems to me that no matter how technologically developed we may become, no matter how advanced in thought and reason, we are still merely human. People driven our emotions. A primary one is fear. Now a days there seems to be an abundance of things to fear–in addition to disease, climate change, violence, addiction– Donald Trump and other personalities are exploiting the very real tragedy and threat of terrorist attacks.
Of course logically we could argue that in our country in a decade (10 years) there have been less than 100 people killed by terrorists compared to about 300,000 deaths by firearms. That the majority of killers in this country are not foreigners and are not Muslim. Those are the facts. But when fear rules the roost, reason and logic lose.
As the wise, well-known, and practically other-worldly sage Yoda famously said: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
I think what is really at work here is feeling powerless. Fear makes us feel powerless. We can’t ensure 100percent safety. The Trumps of this world want to harness our fear; they want to give us an enemy to focus on so that we just keep worrying that the sky is falling–the sky is falling.
Too often, I think we people of faith try to walk some higher ground, to counter the emotion of hate and fear with reasoned arguments. However, the answer to fear-filled hate is not debate. Instead we must fight fear with faith.
John the Baptist in our gospel for this morning does this so well. He knows the people coming to him are desperate, are lost, are wondering, are afraid. What does he say? Does he say, “Oh no, there’s nothing to fear, don’t worry be happy.” No He says “Hey you chickens, I mean hey you bunch of snakes”. Don’t just rely on someone else, don’t rest on your spiritual inheritance. Do something yourselves. And when they ask, “What should we do.” Does John say think and pray? Nope. You know what he does, he says give. He says share–food and clothing. He says do what’s right even if it will hurt your bottom line. Don’t rely on some bankrupt system.
He says the one who is coming wants us to face down our fears—not with more guns and spears, not with laws and walls but with an open hand. I would love to say that we have nothing to fear. But that’s just not the case. There are terrorists, there are criminals, there is racism, those who want to “take back” (whatever that means) our country.
Don’t just talk about love–practice it, live it, tell it, show it. In this room that we can decorate and use for worship, prayer, and singing–we had about 100 refugees (men women and children from Burma and from Iraq). They were here for a party–Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims. Sharing a meal of curry, rice, and some delicious like rice tortilla thing. There was a magician whose tricks lifted the spirits. There was laughter and smiles, and lots of cell phone pictures. Then the morning ended with Christmas gifts. This truly was a moment of answered prayers–of laughter, smiles, fancy clothes, when the joy of living overcame the fear of death.
Yesterday, I posted on Facebook: Yoda, Chicken Little, and the John the Baptist walk into a sermon, but they aren’t the only ones here today, because you walked in here too.. You are here and more importantly, you will go back out there to where we are being told the sky is falling–John and I have done our jobs–now its up to you to do yours. And people it’s not to run around saying the sky is falling. You must use love of God that is in your hearts, use all the creativity of your mind, and the peace within our souls to fight fear with faith. Yoda, Chicken Little, John the Baptist may be in my sermon, but the true messengers of God’s love, the ones who can be faithful in the midst of all this fear are you (you and you). Amen.