This world that we live in is full of uncertainty. The events of last weekend have rocked the world and so many lives. Yet, again the Western world is faced with uncertainty, fear and terror–yet, we often forget those who this is their life daily. Some people have never experienced the peace and comfort of a warm and loving home or the acceptance of who they are, a stable government and so many people in this world live everyday in constant fear. I have never had to live my life this way, thankfully, but it deeply saddens me to see the fear in the world, the hurt and pain, the violence and terror and the never ending circle of innocent lives. At my most pessimistic I do ask God “why not end it all now?” But then I see the beauty, the love and goodness that can still be seen in this world–even if it may be hidden under the heavy cloak of darkness and evil.
I have finally gone to church, after being here for a little over two months, and last weekend I walked into a beautiful stone Church of Scotland, sat in a pew and felt a warmth. A warmth, that is surprising to find in a church of this one’s size and structure, but nevertheless, a warmth that made its way from my toes up throughout my being and settled deep into my heart. I felt that same warmth today as I entered that sanctuary and the familiar proceedings of a traditional Presbyterian service began. And these sermons, given by two different preachers on two different Sundays, reminded me of God’s goodness and reminded me that God has not left this world. God is very much alive, I can feel God’s heartbeat within my own heartbeat (and I am fairly certain you can too). I could get into the details of my justification of God and God’s goodness, and explain the meaning behind free will but instead I want to draw on the verses that the preachers drew on these past two Sundays and just remind you of God’s deep, faithful and beautiful love for us and for this world. And remind you that this evil, this hurt and this pain is not from the God that I worship.
“Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did the others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”
Here, Jesus states that this violence does not come from him. For his kingdom is not of this world, his followers were asked not to fight to free him.
“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, snd they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord.”
The flock has been scattered, the sheep are living in fear–but we must look to the end of this passage and realize that there is no need to live in earthly fear. God has given us a caring, loving and protective shepherd–one who will not allow the evil of this world to scatter us. That good shepherd is Jesus.
So yes, this world is full of darkness and evil but we are under the guidance and protection of a good and loving shepherd. We may have to face worldly evil and suffering–we will not leave this world unscathed but we are loved greatly by a God whose goodness never fails. Right always wins.
But be a light of hope, love and kindness in this heavy and dark world. The sermon today reminded us that we need to reach out to those on the edges, that we cannot let our human prejudices stand in the way of the love that God has asked us to spread. God asked to do for those who society deems unworthy, but they are God’s sheep and need to be shown love as well. So my dear brothers and sisters, let us go forth and love as God has loved us and has asked us to love.
We are about to enter the season of Advent. I read a book the other day that described it beautifully, a season of hope, the baby is coming (Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist). Remember what happens with the coming of this little baby–the promise of peace, everlasting life and freedom from death.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
Pray my sisters and brothers. Pray for those who do evil, for those who have had evil done to them, for those who wake up in places we do not ever think about scared and in fear, for this world. Please do not give up hope, because hope is coming. The Prince of Peace is on his way (figuratively, we know that he is already here with us and there is the promise that he will come again) but the baby is coming.
Show the love of Christ to all, even those who least deserve it, they are often the ones who need it most. May the peace, love and joy of the Lord Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace be with each and everyone of you.