This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Convention worship: What is fear afraid of?

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Don’t be afraid, be in community.

Citing Christ’s resurrection and victory over death, fear and sin, Dustin Galyon called on Mennonite Church USA participants to break free of being trapped by fear July 3 at morning worship.

Dustin Galyon speaks during worship July 3 at the Mennonite Church USA convention. — Vada Snider
Dustin Galyon speaks during worship July 3 at the Mennonite Church USA convention. — Vada Snider

“You know why I’m excited to be at convention? Because Jesus calls us to be in community,” said Galyon, men’s basketball coach at Hesston (Kan.) College. “Fear fears community, and mentorship, and accountability and convention. . . .

“Sin wants to isolate you and get you all alone, and in the gospel, with Jesus, we know fear fears community.”

Mopping his face as he paced the stage in a high-energy reminder that Christ is risen and working actively in lives today, Galyon looked back on his own prideful youth as evidence that some of the biggest fears people have are about past sins.

“I spent seven years fearing ‘infeariority,’ ” he said as an old social media photo of him in a shirtless bodybuilder pose appeared on large screens, soon replaced with a wedding photo. “Now my Facebook pictures aren’t of me, but of [my family], and we are in community.”

Rather than living in fear, Galyon encouraged living in anticipation, because fear doesn’t proclaim the gospel, or go overseas for service or work at social justice.

He was careful to note that a life with Jesus doesn’t mean fear will be absent — it will be surmountable.

“When I read this book I understand that having Jesus doesn’t mean you won’t have fear,” he said, holding up a tattered Bible. “It means you’ll have someone with you as you do that walk.”

The power to walk boldly with Christ, unchained by fears, is not the manipulative or coercive power that can make Mennonites uncomfortable. Rather, Galyon pointed to Jesus appearing among the disciples after the tomb was empty. He said “peace be with you.” He didn’t even knock. He stood in their midst and said “don’t be afraid.”

“Maybe, just maybe, we can look at the fears in our own lives, hidden behind locked doors,” Galyon prayed. “And Lord, maybe we can believe in the risen Jesus and we can call on you and realize you will stand in our midst.”

Earlier in the service, worship leaders recalled popular Christian author and speaker Rachel Held Evans, who was a featured speaker at the 2017 MC USA convention in Orlando, Fla., and died in May.

“We honor her legacy of life and truth,” said worship coordinator Shannon Dycus, who read a passage from Searching for Sunday about the need to air “dirty laundry” together and before God, not being afraid. “Today we hear her invitation to engage our fears. . . . to construct the grace-filled church God is calling us to today. May this be so.”

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