Monday, March 9, 2009

Perspective and Questions

On Sunday, March 8, around 11:35 a.m., I stood to preach. My sermon text was Matthew 28:16-20. My sermon title was "The Agenda of Jesus." I had prayerfully chosen this text to both remind our church of our Great Commission calling as well as celebrating the three missionaries that would be leaving our church for Moldova on March 10. My first point was that Great Commission attitudes are formed by worship or by doubt. There, as Jesus proclaimed his final words to his disciples, were disciples filled with awe and wonder at their risen Lord and those filled with doubt. At the end of our worship, our church family joyfully gathered around three folks, whom we deeply love, in order to place our hands upon them and send them out in the name of the Lord. Afterwards, we all headed off to different places for lunch.

Not long after our worship service ended, a Maryville, Illinois pastor stood to preach as he had done many times over the past twenty two years. After the beginning of the sermon, a hooded gunman entered into the First Baptist Church--a Southern Baptist Congregation--and shot the pastor. Dr. Fred Winter had led the congregation for twenty-two years. He had two daughters.

As our congregation celebrates the calling of three members to Great Commission ministry, our sister congregation mourns the death of their pastor that was shot before their eyes.

On Sunday evening, March 8, at 6:00 p.m. our adults enjoyed watching a movie on the life of Martin Luther during discipleship time. As we ate popcorn and Hershey chocolate bars, the courageous life of the Reformer was depicted before our eyes. We admired his willingness to stand up against the abuses of the Catholic church and be used of God to spawn a movement with ramifications that we feel today.

At some point during our time of eating popcorn and worshipping together later that night, the grandson of one of our regular attenders was found dead. His life was lost to a drug overdose. A loving grandmother will travel to Florida this week to mourn her thirty-three year old grandson. He leaves behind three children.

This world is filled with a dizzying array of opposites. As my children play outside on their swingset, children on the opposit side of the world run from rebel forces that have invaded their village. As my children throw away the crusts of the pizza that they "don't want" to eat, a child in South America digs around in a trash can looking for supper. As my children receive antibiotics for the sinus infections they have suffered from the past few days, a child in Africa dies of a disease easily preventabile in the US. As my child reads from his favorite book before bedtime, a child on the other side of the county can barely read at all.

The evil and injustice of this world can be overwhelming.

"The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, wheter good or evil." Ecclesiastes 11:13-14

The joys and trimphs of this world can be overwhelming.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." James 1:17

"Then his wife said to him, 'Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.' But he said to her, 'You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?' In all this Job did not sin with his lips." Job 2:9-10

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