Sunday, November 15, 2015
Christ Lutheran Church – Manchester, PA
“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.” These words from Jesus do not sound comforting at all. They weren’t the words the disciples wanted to hear. They weren’t the words that the community that Mark addressed was eager to hear since they were in the midst of war with the Roman Empire. They aren’t the words that people throughout the generations want to hear as well because these things are always taking place.
On Wednesday of this week our country celebrated Veteran’s Day – formerly known as Armistice Day. It’s a day set aside to honor the brave men and women who have or are serving our country to defend us from harm, protect us, and keep us safe. They know all about sacrifice. Many of our veterans have seen and experienced things that most people will never have to endure. They carry with them deep scars both physically and emotionally. And they and we pray for a day when wars will be a thing of the past. We pray for peace, but the words from Jesus in Mark’s gospel say that these wars will continue and they do.
Yet in the midst of all these wars, and famines, and natural disasters Jesus tells us not to be alarmed. He wants us to be at peace and yet we ask ourselves, “How can we be at peace when all these things are happening around us? How can we be at peace when every time we see or hear the news there is another tragedy?” The war in the Middle East continues, terrorist attacks now in France, increasing school shootings, earthquakes, hurricanes, mass flooding are escalating. It seems like the sky is falling. Many people try and tell us these are signs that the end is near. Yet no one knows when that will be and Jesus warns us to beware of those who pretend to know and lead us astray.
But it’s hard not to let these things get to us. It’s human nature. It goes against everything we hold dear. Men and women aren’t supposed to have to go to war and risk their lives let alone lose them. The people we love are not supposed to die early. We aren’t supposed to lose our jobs. It’s not supposed to be this hard. Yet we know it is. And Jesus is telling us that because of sin life here on earth is hard. It’s not easy and it’s hard not to focus on these things. So where is the good news?
The good news is that we have a rock that unlike the stones of the temple buildings that fell in the first century due to war, and unlike the stones of the buildings that are destroyed today due to war; this rock will never fail us. This rock- this security – is not something that can be found in possessions, or money, or success. Our rock, our security, is found in Jesus Christ. Everything and everyone else may promise to save us, but only God can do that. We can’t work our way to salvation. We can’t get there by trying to be perfect. When everything around us seems to be spinning out of control there is only one thing that will bring us peace and that is keeping our eyes focused on Jesus who will show us the way because he is the way.
This doesn’t mean that there won’t be trials, and tragedies, and heartbreak. These things are part of the world we live in. But we don’t go through these things alone. God is with us. That is the promise that we have been given. And as Jesus’ disciples we must get this good news out, because there are so many who don’t know where to turn when things are falling apart. That’s why for the last few weeks members of our council and congregation have been giving temple talks about stewardship of time, talents, and money. We’re talking about money because our community cannot afford to lose this congregation. This church makes a difference in our community. Christ Lutheran Church is a beacon of hope where people can come and be refreshed by God’s word. This is a community of faith that shows people where true peace can be found. The money we give to this church is to continue the work of the early disciples in making Christ known to all people. All people need to hear that Jesus is the way to peace in a day when peace seems far away.
St. Paul in his letter to the Hebrews urges us to “hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.” God has assured us through Jesus that we will be delivered, that evil will not have the final victory, that God’s kingdom will prevail. This is the good news that brings us hope and peace in the face of the horrors around us.
The well-known hymn, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, begins with the words “mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” In the face of the many tragedies we face and will face we must remember these words and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus who tells us not to be alarmed. Jesus’ promises are true. Jesus’ is the source of our peace.
. Let us encourage one another for God’s truth is surely marching on. Glory Hallelujah! Amen!