This is an excerpt from the sermon I preached on February 18, 2018.
Friends, have you heard the news? Yet again, we have news headlines about tragic and violent loss of young life that breaks our hearts. How many more do we have to hear about before we do something? How long before those headlines are too close? If any of us ever had a question about urgency, I believe the events around us clearly indicate that “now is the time” for action. I do not think that we can have the luxury anymore of sitting back and hoping it will just get better. We must, like Jesus, act. We cannot wait for others. We cannot wait for governments. And while the statistics tell us that the world is generally less violent today than in the past, especially in the time of Jesus, it sure doesn’t feel that way. We may not have oppressive governing regimes like the Romans in our culture, but the sin and dysfunction of our humanness is alive and well. As a result, real lives are being discarded and pushed aside, to the breaking point, and no earthly system or legislation will fix that. What the world needs is God’s love, now more than ever.
There are people around us who feel isolated, left out, and alone. We need to see them, love them. At times, that alone person is you or me. We are told that the strong can get through it, that we should pull ourselves up and carry on. But we are not meant to bear our pain, frustration, or shame alone. Trying to is not only not realistic, but also destructive. Confide in someone you can trust. We don’t like to mention anything wrong in our lives because we don’t want someone to think less of us. But those who truly love us can hear us, walk with us, help us, and not think less of us. If you don’t have that friend, or a counselor, then call me. To use words of a friend of mine, “God loves you, and I love you, and nothing you do can change that.” Don’t lie to yourself that everything always gets better by itself. Without loving guidance at times, it is easy to end up in a dark and sinful place. if the broken lives around us in the news say anything, it’s that being alone in our personal darkness is not healthy for us, or those around us. The sad truth is that there are many around us that are already in these dark places.
Now is the time to open our eyes and our hearts. Now is the time to reach out to those who are isolated and alone. Now is the time us to admit to ourselves when we are, and seek the help of the community. Now is the time to welcome those who are cut off from others into a place where they are shown the love of their creator. We cannot pretend anymore. We simply cannot wait for people to come to us: it doesn’t work! We must open our eyes and look for them, see them, love them. Lives are at stake, maybe even our own.