Monday, November 19, 2012

Sunday's Sermon: Do Not Be Alarmed

Several years ago, Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks did a comedy skit called the "2013 Year Old Man". In the skit, Reiner interviews Brooks, who is the old gentleman. At one point, Reiner asks the old man, "Did you always believe in the Lord?"

Brooks replied: "No. We had a guy in our village named Phil, and for a time we worshiped him."

Reiner: You worshiped a guy named Phil? Why?

Brooks: Because he was big, and mean, and he could break you in two with his bare hands!

Reiner: Did you have prayers?

Brooks: Yes, would you like to hear one? O Phil, please don't be mean, and hurt us, or break us in two with your bare hands.

Reiner: So when did you start worshiping the Lord?

Brooks: Well, one day a big thunderstorm came up, and a lightning bolt hit Phil. We gathered around and saw that he was dead. Then we said to one another, "There's somthin' bigger than Phil!"

There’s indeed something bigger than Phil. There’s something bigger than you or me. There’s something bigger than this church. There’s something bigger than our world. There’s something bigger than our universe. There’s something bigger, and those of us who believe know this something to be God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is something outside ourselves, completely other, completely unknowable except for the fact that He chose to reveal Himself to us through His actions and particularly through His Son, Jesus Christ. There is something with enough power to raise a dead man from the grave and change the course of history through that action. There is something bigger than Phil.

There is something bigger than the temple in Jerusalem–the same temple the disciples were admiring recorded in our Gospel lesson today from the book of Mark. They were impressed. The temple complex was huge. We can see pictures of the size of the boulders that were used when we pull up pictures of the wailing wall in Jerusalem today. Massive is a good word to use. Impressive feat that they moved those things without the aid of the heavy equipment we use today. They constructed this massive building–God’s house on earth, and there were apparently other large buildings right next to it. The disciples gawked and pointed this stuff out to Jesus.

But Jesus wasn’t impressed. Jesus wasn’t moved by the sight of those stones. Jesus knew there was something bigger. He, himself and the things He was doing were more impressive than those buildings. Jesus, in an almost flippant manner dismisses the disciples’ amazement. "Do you see those stones? Not one will be left upon another. All will be thrown down."

I’m sure this got the disciples’ attention. I am sure of it because Mark tells just that once they got Jesus off alone, they asked Him, "Lord, when is this stuff going to happen?"

Then, Jesus lets it rip. "Beware that no one leads you astray. 6Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 7When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. 8For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is the beginning of the birth pangs."

There is something bigger than this world, and one day, He’s coming back. There will be an end to history. There will be an end to this time and space. And here are a few things to watch for.

Nation rises against nation.

Kingdom rises against kingdom.

There will be earthquakes.

There will be famines.

And this is just the beginning.

Usually, at this point someone is always willing to point to certain goings on around the world. "Pastor, this past week Israel bombed the Gaza strip, and there is a rising of nation against nation out there. We’ve seen and heard about a lot of earthquakes recently. Scientists tell us global warming will lead to famine. Is this the beginning of the end. Don’t you think we are living in the end times? Should we be worried?"

My response: We’ve been living in the end times for a long time. Nations have always risen up against nations. Kingdoms have always risen up against kingdoms. There have always been earthquakes. And as we look at the globe, we know that somewhere is always experiencing a famine. These signs have always been around. But why ask if we should be worried?

I mean don’t gloss over those four words Jesus spoke in the midst of His response to His disciples. They are right there in verse seven. They are plain as day, "Do not be alarmed."

Do not be alarmed.

But how? How can we not be alarmed? How can we not be worried? How can we not be anxious? All this stuff is bad. War is bad. Killing is bad. Famine is bad.

Yes. You are right, but there is something bigger. There is someone bigger than all that stuff. There is someone bigger than war. There is someone bigger than killing. There is someone bigger than famine. There is someone bigger than death itself. And the real question is: how much do we trust Him and His promises?
Let me ask that again: how much do you trust God and His promises?

This is the key question.

Do you trust Him when He says He sent Jesus into the world to die for you and your sins?

Do you trust Him when He says that because of Jesus death and resurrection, He has adopted you as a son or a daughter?

Do you trust Him when He says that because you are His son or His daughter that He has prepared a place for you; that you will share in eternal life with Jesus THE Son?

Do you trust Him when He says seek first God’s kingdom, and then all the things that you need will be granted unto you?

Do you trust God so much that you don’t worry about politics or elections or war or famine or destruction or buildings or what have you? Do you believe that He’s bigger than all that stuff? Do you believe God has your back and will take care of you? There’s something bigger than Phil. Indeed there is, and so let us trust and act on Jesus’ words, "Do not be alarmed." Amen.

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