12th Sunday of Pentecost – August 27, 2017
Revelation 6:1-8; 7:1-17 and John 14:1-4, 12
In the Book of Revelation we are seeing a vision – a bit like a secret code of how God’s world is. These mysteries are not meant to conceal God but to reveal the message of the prophets and the work of Christ – the Lamb of God. We have already learned (in previous Sundays) that God is always Creator, ever present and active in creation. We learned that in a broken world the power of God comes through the vulnerability of The Lamb who is the sacrifice for this broken world.
In our readings today, the vision of the four horses represent unexpected threats to all of God’s creation, bringing all kinds of situations that unsettle us and make us feel insecure.
In reality we know that our sense of security can be quite short-lived. Whenever you listen to the news you know that all over the world, in our country and in our neighbourhoods there are forces that bring us pain. In our own homes and within our hearts we also experience the chaos of these evils. Violence, abuse of power, lack of freedoms, war, injustices, hopelessness, betrayal, loss of work, economic hardships, sickness, loss of mobility and ultimately, the one we all face with certainty is death. To be human is to be vulnerable to all of these things. Take a moment right now: In your life today – can you identify one (or more) circumstance that leaves you feeling unsettled? (PAUSE 10 seconds)
I want to tell you the story of Bart Millard who wrote the popular Christian Song – I can only Imagine. This song was inspired by the spiritual journey of Bart who feels the pain and violence of the brokenness in his life… A father who is abusive… An accident that broke both his ankles so that he could no longer play football in high school. Devastated Bart takes a music class in place of sports and discovers that he has a gift of music, ultimately writing this song. Bart’s story is an example of how life can be unsettled by the violence of relationships and shattered dreams. Bart’s father is later given a terminal diagnosis of cancer. Somehow the father desires to reconcile with his son before his imminent death. What has come over this abusive man and given him such a change of heart? It was truly miraculous, clearly the father was transformed by the Gospel of Christ. Through this father-son journey of renewal, Bart replaces his hatred of his father with the desire to be like his father. Redemption brings hope and a promise of the eternal hope. Bart’s experiences lead to him writing this song – I can only Imagine – that attempts to capture the unspeakable emotions of imagining the Mystery of being in the full presence of our God. As we watch and listen to this song – imagine what will be some day… [Play the song/video – 4minutes and leave lyrics on the screen afterwards]
If we fast forward the picture of Revelation we see who God is and who we are in Christ. We celebrate that God promises an end to chaos, destruction and violence. There will be a most wonderful, great celebration – IMAGINE jubilant worship to God and to the Lamb to whom belongs our Salvation. For even in the midst of our personal chaos – God remains Lord of all things! IMAGINE no more violence, no tears, no more hunger or thirst. All is made new. This is the promise, yet to come.
Living in this hope – we IMAGINE things to come. Do we just sit back and wait? Facebook our friends? Twitter our challenges? Bemoan our circumstances? No! We are called to action now. In other scriptures, such as John 14 Jesus tells us not to let our hearts be troubled but trust in God and, in verse 12 to “do the works I have been doing”. A call to action! We are to be God’s hands and feet in this world. If we pause a moment we can identify many ways, big and small, that Presbyterians across Canada are responding with action. These are just a few:
- In Ghana, people with disabilities are often neglected and viewed as unproductive and incapable of contributing in a positive way; this eventually results in a vicious cycle of poverty. The PCC is affirming and encouraging the work of the government of Ghana towards improving their goals to assist people with disabilities.
- In Malawi, Nigeria and Tanzania there are efforts to educate people about albinism. Albinism is a rare, non-contagious, inherited genetic condition that reduces the amount of melanin pigment formed in the skin, hair, and/or eyes, causing skin to be of a translucent white hue and vulnerable to skin cancer. In sub-Saharan Africa albinism is very misunderstood and perceived as abnormal and even evil, so that people with albinism are physically abused and even killed. PCC is working to assist the government in educating their people and encouraging their enforcement of laws to protect people with albinism from discrimination and violence.
- PCC workers continue to work in Haiti, Afghanistan, Colombia to support, encourage and pray to end the violence against girls and women and to promote gender equality.
Even in our own church community and neighbourhood, we do the works that Jesus asks of us: feeding the hungry, seeking to nurture our children and youth, listening to each other with respect and care, sharing our stories and our faith, giving generously as we are able to support needs in our community, Presbyterians Sharing and PWS&D initiatives.
The vision of revelation is a great Mystery. In the midst of threats around us, we have God’s promise that we are Redeemed and the Lamb will make all things new. Again, today we are called to take action. As we return to our homes and communities, God’s Spirit is always present with us. We walk this unsettled journey with others… relying on the promises of our God and giving thanks for the hope we have in Christ. We play our part as we IMAGINE God’s kingdom coming to Earth as it is in heaven.
Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen (Rev. 7:12)
Copyright 2017 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church
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