Sunday, November 18, 2012

November 18 Sermon

“Awaken me this morning, Lord to your light, Open my eyes to your presence.
Awaken me, Lord to your love, Open my heart to your indwelling.
Awaken me, Lord to your life, Open my mind to your abiding.
Awaken me always, Lord to your purpose, Open my will to your guiding.”
Amen. (David Adam)
Repent! The end is near! or some would like us to think…

Some predicted a doomsday with the election. Others look to certain dates, like December 21, the supposed end of the Mayan calendar, which it actually doesn't really end at all. There is even a TV reality show on National Geographic called Doomsday Preparers. Others on TV and on the internet make a living by selling fear. Many feed off the fear that their pronouncements make.

Some look to the bible, to passages similar to what we are reading today, and use it as a way to predict the end of the world. There are some passage that talk about the end, Apocalyptic visions, many with vivid imagery. Many look to these passages, thread them together to give an aura of authenticity. But too many do this to instill in us fear.

I think of a song from Philip Philips I heard on the radio recently with these words:
Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home
I could hear Jesus saying these words to us that we are not alone. It is Jesus who journeys with us. Don’t pay no mind to those who want to fill us with fear, trouble might drag us down, we might get lost, but you can always be found!

As Christians, we don't need a bunker mentality, we need not buy into the fear and anxiety of our age, we need to live into that hope that god entrusts us with...
“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
The reformer Martin Luther put it. Such hope in the face of it all is what we can give to a society that can’t see such hope.

When the Jewish people were dispersed from their homeland. When they didn’t know how to have faith in a foreign land. When they wondered if they had a future. It is Daniel who brings them such hope. For Daniel tells of his vision:
“At that time Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise. There shall be a time of anguish, but at that time your people shall be delivered."
The vision from God that Daniel shares is a reminder to the Israelites that even though they have been taken from their homeland, God is with them and they will be delivered. It is a message of hope in a bleak time.

In the gospel of mark, the disciples are enthralled with the beauty of Jerusalem. The stones and structures. But Jesus knows such things do not last.
“Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down."
This unsettled the disciples but Jesus went on…
"Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, `I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed.”
There will be wars, famines, earthquakes… these are but the birthpangs.

We hear those words as rockets are raining down on Israel and Israel returns fire with their own rockets. It is hard not to be alarmed at what Jesus says but I don’t think he is doing that to upset us, but to make us aware of the struggles we will have to follow him. People who would lead us astray, terrible things in our world like wars, famines, earthquakes. But it is just the beginning. The kingdom of God is almost be here. Don’t be alarmed.

But how do we remain in hope?

I think it comes down to how we cultivate our lives and how we want to change the world by living out of our faith and hope and love.

As Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, says
“We mend and renew the world by strengthening inside ourselves what we seek outside ourselves, and not by demanding it of others or trying to force it on others.
If you want others to be more loving, choose to love first.
If you want a reconciled outer world, reconcile your own inner world.
If your situation feels hopeless, honor the one spot of hope inside you.
If you want to find God. then honor God within you, and you will always see God beyond you. For it is only God in you who knows where and how to look for God.”
(I’m handing out a small sheet with Rohr’s words, because I think it’s the right message for us today. Post it on your fridge or on your bathroom mirror and think on these things.)

Emily Dickinson said, “’Hope’ is the thing with feathers—That perches in the soul—And sings the tune without the words—And never stops—at all” She’s right! Hope doesn’t stop. Its in you and its in me. Don’t listen to the fear mongers. Listen to God and start with yourself, “If you want others to be more loving, choose to love first.” Jesus did. Amen.

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