Fear and Trembling

August 24, 2020
Good afternoon,

” God says, ‘ Be still, and know, that I am God’ .”    Psalm 46:10
” You are always in a rush because you are never sure when you’ll get thrown into the Gulag again. “
The first line is from God to the community in the land now known as Palestine / Israel . The second statement was said to me by a young man who knows the Russian Mennonite ethos very well. My parents were Mennonite refugees from Russia in the 1920’s. There was another group of Russian Mennonites who came as migrants from Russia to Canada in the 1870’s . These two groups have two different experiences, and so see the world from different angles. There are some famous Mennonite fiction writers in Canada, and they mostly come from the group who came in the 1870’s. 

During the Revolution in Russia ( 1917-1922 ?). Mennonite men were taken from their families and taken to the Gulag, also known as Siberia. Most died of illness, starvation or from being executed. So, when there was a knock on the door at night, they were afraid that their husband and father would be taken away, never to be seen again. That kind of fear, I think, gets into your DNA. I doubt that you can prove it scientifically, but the fears of my grandmother and grandfather were, I believe, passed down to the next generations here in Canada. After all, we are products of our parents.
I have nothing to be afraid of in Canada. It is a very safe place compared to most places in the world. I have a good house, a great family and my food and health care needs are taken care of in my life. But…. I need to be places early, so I do not miss out on the event. When I order tickets on-line, I am fearful right up to the time I get into the event, that something will go wrong, and the ticket will not scan. It happened yesterday again while waiting for a Van Gogh exhibit in Toronto. I believe this to be generational fear, passed down because of the Gulag experience, or just the fear of the Gulag experience . I fear something will go wrong with my life, big or small, or large or nothing at all.

The writer of Psalm 46 knows the fears of the people of faith. There are all kinds of fears and desolations happening the rest of the chapter, but God wants to install this kind of faith in us all. Unfortunately it cannot be installed like an app, it has to be lived into, and I am still living into it. It says , “Cast all your fears on to the Lord ” in I Peter 5:7. But, I don’t even know all my fears yet. It is that Gulag thing again !!!


 The Lord is my shepherd,

I do not need anythingbut,

the shepherd of the sheep.

To keep me being loved and cared for,

despite my fears and the unknowns of this world.

Thanks be to God.     AMEN


Fred Redekop Pastor Poole Mennonite Church