In a recent conversation with a friend they could only talk about how alone they felt. Even as I am writing this my mind says wait a minute, that conversation has duplicated itself many times over in the last few months. I plan to share with you today 4 thoughts, one from each of the Biblical texts mentioned above. These thoughts will speak to how help comes from varying places and often when we least expect it. Before I go there here are some worship experiences that may lift you, enabling you to know you are not alone.
Call to Worship:
Heavenly Father in a simple prayer we give ourselves to you. For many this is a new experience, to others it is an experience repeated many times over. Either way it is still alien to our everyday walk. Lead us today in a discovery process. Introduce us to the keyhole that we may have a glimpse of where you would take us. May each thought of this worship enlarge our vision of you, and ultimately of our safety and your care for us. Amen.
Music: Hymns of revelation.
a. Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
Abram who later became Abraham was concerned he would have no offspring. How often do we hear people say who will carry on my name, who will take on my inheritance, what will be my legacy? Very human questions, very human concerns. Abram went through his struggle, went through his doubts and then a dream, a scary dream and then a word from God, a feeling, a voice, an image, the text doesn’t tell us. It only says Abram experienced an assurance. Some how God communicated to him all would be well. How do we experience the safe-ness of God’s presence. Sometimes by listening to the feeling that invades our darkness. God becomes the great “I will.” That in and of itself becomes a sermon totally on it’s own.
b. A second thought: Psalm 27
The Psalmist as if interpreting Abram’s dilemma declares “The LORD is my light and my salvation.” Light sheds light, gives discovery, anoints one with reality! Wow! a powerful revelation is about to deliver salvation.
One of my favorite stories, I tell it every chance I get is simply this. Three people were walking together. The one, quite pessimistic by nature said, Oh look a tunnel! Drat! As they continued their walk the second person, an optimist by nature said, I think I see a light ahead. He began to pronounce in joyful words, yes there is light! The third person a realist by nature, not wanting to squelch the moment celebrated a different truth. He said look, there is light but there is also another tunnel. We are not abandoned to the darkness. Light and darkness walk hand in hand. In the midst of the darkness light reappears. Reminiscent of the Psalmist experience we are encouraged to learn that in the light we see the deliverance, we see the goodness, and experience courage because God does not abandon us to the darkness.
c. A third thought: Philippians 3:17-4:1
It is the Apostle Paul in writing to the Philippian people who then translates these words to a more concrete understanding. He simple informs us that the reality of this deliverance is found in our hope that Jesus shall come to deliver us. He, Paul, personalizes this message and focuses it on how God intends to make this deliverance a reality.
d. A an almost humorous illustration of this is then given in a story (Luke 13:31-35 ) about Jesus. The Pharisees who ultimately became an enemy of Jesus are here trying to protect Him. What would turn a person’s heart to help instead of hinder?
Abram became aware of God. This caused him to turn to God. The Psalmist saw in light an awareness of God. The Apostle of Paul introduced the role of Jesus as a very present hope concerning the activity of God. Ultimately Jesus illustrates the intention of God to save people, to save us as well. God reveals our source of hope. This hope begins, this hope balances itself in the God of history who does not withdraw, does not leave us alone in history but in Jesus stays with us. Amen.