From Fear to Hope: From Alienation to Acceptance

light shines through
Photo of original artwork by Rachael Keefe ©2024 depicting an oil on canvas painting of ocean waves at night, with light coming from a lighthouse.

Lent is the perfect time to invite God into our fears and ask for the courage to confront them.


Probably the most well-known verse in the book of Amos is 5:24: “…Let justice roll down like water and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” It’s a powerful and alluring image. Imagine justice flowing through the world unimpeded!

As much as we might desire this liberated justice, we are afraid of it as well. We must be, or the generations between Amos and now would have achieved it, or at least gotten a whole lot closer. I say this because Amos didn’t just create this beautiful image of justice; he clearly told people how to get there.

The preceding verse concludes a list of things that God is not pleased with. According to Amos, God was done with people who could overlook the needs of the vulnerable and then go through the motions of gathering for worship, offering burnt offerings and grain offers, and the songs. All of this was not pleasing to God.

Amos, on behalf of God, tells the people to stop doing these things and instead asks them to let justice roll… The first word of this famous verse is “But.” Don’t be performative in your religious rituals but do let justice roll like waters and righteousness like a stream.

This is the key to moving from our isolated lives to living in inclusive relationships and communities. Justice means caring for the vulnerable, leaving no one on their own without adequate food, shelter, care, and protection. Righteousness means living as God has asked – loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Of course, this isn’t all that simple! So in the days ahead, I invite us all to reflect on our own lives and the assumptions we make about others. What keeps us from caring more about our neighbors? What keeps us from dismantling the obstacles that justice encounters as it seeks to flow through our streets?

Take some time to invite God into whatever fear you encounter. Maybe it’s time to meet some neighbors and learn more about who they really are. Maybe spend some time in prayer, asking for wisdom and courage to address the injustice you come across in your circles.

Lent is a time of wilderness wandering, a time of entering into those places where we experience distance from God. Lent is also a time of inviting God into our fears and our false beliefs about ourselves and our neighbors. Together, we can widen the river of justice that flows through our lives.


About Rachael Keefe

Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ. She was called to Living Table in 2015 after serving in many varied ministry settings since her ordination in 1992. She holds graduate degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Seminary at Yale (formerly Andover Newton Theological School). Her ministry and leadership often center around advocacy and accessibility. Her writing has been published by Chalice Press, The Christian Century, Red Letter Christians, Working Preacher, RevGalBlogPals, and others. She is grateful to be in ministry with Living Table today.

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2 thoughts on “From Fear to Hope: From Alienation to Acceptance”

  1. I’ve been listening to Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown. I have a accepted a challenge for myself this political season that is related to her book and this blog post.

    My intention is to not dehumanize any of the candidates and to speak up if I hear someone else dehumanizing them. I hope looking for their humanity helps me be more compassionate.

    I invite y’all to join me in this challenge.

    • Sandy, I totally endorse this approach. Being critical of policies and behavior is very different than dehumanizing a person.


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