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2020-06-29 Be Not Afraid

This hymn was written in the early 1970s by American Roman Catholic seminarian Robert (Bob) Dufford SJ - who ordained as a priest before the song was completed.


It was initially written to help people who were at a point of transition in their lives - in Dufford's case, the transition from laity to ordained priesthood.


But several decades of use have seen it cross denominational boundaries and become particularly popular as a song of comfort for people who are dying or bereaved, and at funerals.



As I’m writing this, I am with my dad at the hospital while he has a series of tests done. My mother is in a room upstairs, but I can’t go see her because of the COVID 19 restrictions. There is so much uncertainty surrounding me. I am overwhelmed by concerns for my parents and what the coming days and weeks might look like. Today’s hymn is for me. I actually recorded it it back in March for our first Facebook worship service, when we first began “sheltering in place”.  When considering what to share today, this hymn came to mind immediately. I love the message of comfort it brings to me - and to all of us, regardless of the crisis we are facing. 


Be not afraid – waiting for a medical diagnosis.  

Be not afraid - of what the future might look like.

Be not afraid – through the pandemic.  

Be not afraid - through social and political unrest.  

Be not afraid – through the storm - whatever that “storm” may be.

Be not afraid.  

I go before you always.  


Whatever the outcome, He is there to hold us and guide us – if we only seek Him.  What a comfort to know that regardless the crisis or the source of uncertainty we may face, we are never alone! 


When you go through deep waters,
    I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
    you will not be burned up;
    the flames will not consume you.

For I am the Lord, your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom;
    I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place.

Isaiah 43:2-3 (NLT)


20 Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said,

“God blesses you who are poor,
    for the Kingdom of God is yours.

Luke 6:20 (NLT)


You shall cross the barren desert,

but you shall not die of thirst.

You shall wander far in safety

though you do not know the way.

You shall speak your words in foreign lands

and all will understand.

You shall see the face of God and live.


Be not afraid.

I go before you always.

Come, follow me, and I will give you rest.


If you pass through raging waters in the sea,

you shall not drown.

If you walk amid the burning flames,

you shall not be harmed.

If you stand before the pow'r of hell

and death is at your side,

know that I am with you through it all.


Blessed are your poor,

for the kingdom shall be theirs.

Blest are you that weep and mourn,

for one day you shall laugh.

And if wicked tongues insult and hate you

all because of me,

blessed, blessed are you!

*Devotion and music provided by Jane Cockrell

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