Sunday, May 18, 2008

Hold On

Trinity Sunday / First Sunday After Pentecost

At the beginning of the service we shared a moment of silence for Chauncey Wargin, who departed to be with the Lord this week.

This was followed by several important announcements including the following.
1. Beginning next Sunday, worship will start at 9:30 for the duration of the summer.
2. Pastor Shannon will be presenting a new series of sermons taken from the Book of James.
3. The last Adventure Club of the year will be Wednesday night, with an Art Show following. Dessert and special entertainment will be enjoyed by all.

Our Sunday School teachers and Adventure Club leaders were also given recognition.

After the reading of Psalm 121, Ed Newman lead the Children’s Challenge, beginning with an examination inside the kids’ mouths to see if he could find something he was looking for. Turns out, no one had an eraser in their mouths. The message: words can be used for good, but can also hurt others, and unfortunately, we do not have an eraser on our tongues.

After Scripture readings from Ps. 8 and Matthew 28:16-20, Pastor Shannon began his message.

Hold On

The message today dealt with very sober issues. Not everything in the world is good. War, rape, abuse, crime, scandals… no matter what part of the newspaper you look at you will see stories that underscore this truth. Real evil exists. No rational person can deny that there is evil in the world.

How did the world get so messed up? The answer is that sin has entered the world. Our sin has done real damage. Before Adam and Eve sinned, the world was perfect. But since then, it is fallen, corrupt, a broken planet.

No one is without sin. I don’t live up to my own standards, let alone those of a perfect God. As the Scriptures state, “All have sinned,” and “There is none righteous, not one.”

Sin causes great damage. In today’s sermon, Pastor Shannon outlined five realms where sin causes harm and suffering… (1) the Natural, (2) the Physical, (3) the Emotional, (4) the Relational, and (5) the Spiritual.

1) Natural disasters occur because the earth is broken, no longer in harmony with God’s order. For this reason we have earthquakes, Tsunamis, and other devastation. In Romans 8:20-22 we read that the whole of creation groans for release from its bondage to decay, caused by the entrance of sin into the world.

2) The physical real is subject to decay and death. Our bodies weaken, we age. All things in this world are subject to the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

In actuality, death is actually good. This world is imperfect, and a source of suffering. Jesus has prepared for us a better place. Death is a door to this better world.

3) Sin also damages us emotionally. At this point he shared how engaged couples often spend as much of a year working out every detail of a wedding, that lasts but a few hours, without working on the important issues of the marriage, which is a lifetime.

4) Sin causes relational damage as well, and this is nowhere more visible than in the context of a marriage. Either we grow up or grow apart. It is the place where we must learn to be unselfish.

Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed. They had no hang-ups, no baggage from abusive parents, bad school experiences, etc. But then, they sinned, and everything changed. In Genesis 3:7 we see that they hid themselves. And clothed themselves in fig leaves. (What’s your fig leaf?) They also blamed, as we still do to this day, blaming others for our bad behavior.

5) Spiritual discontent and sadness is the fifth consequence of sin. Pascal noted that we have a God-shaped who in our hearts, and only God can fill it. Augustine, a thousand years earlier, wrote that “our hearts are restless till they find their rest in Thee.” Only God can satisfy our deepest need.

We live on a broken planet. The tragic surrounds us on all sides, around the globe. No wonder there is epidemic depression.

The prophet Jeremiah was well acquainted with depression and sorrow. Out of his sorrows he wrote the Book of Lamentations. But in this book we see him affirm that the Lord can always be counted on. “Lord, You are all that I need,” he exclaims.

Sin is why the world is such a mess. So why doesn’t God just shut it down? Pull the plug?

God is in control, and the world is moving toward its climax. God is patient and doesn’t want anyone to perish. He puts up with the grief to give us more time and opportunity to receive His grace.

When there is suffering in the world, God feels it deeply. He made us with emotions in His image, and he is not immune to grief when He sees trafficking in women, child abuse, and all the other horrors in our time.

Through the sin of one man, death entered the world, and suffering. This is, however, a temporary world now. It will never be perfect. But in the midst of it, God’s presence and reign are available, her and now.

Once we’ve found His peace, His redemption, we need to share with others what we’ve found.

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