7th Sunday of Easter
May 28, 2017
1 Peter 5:6-11
Grace, mercy, and peace be and abide with you all in the name of our living Savior Jesus. The basis for the sermon today will be the 2nd half of today’s 2nd lesson from 1 Peter 5.
My dear friends,
The boxes of gloves are mounted on the wall in X-Ray 5. But, then again, that’s not all that rare; I saw that in several rooms…including my own. Oh, and you may want to bring an extra blanket (or a parka as far as that goes) because it’s pretty cold in X-Ray 5. They have to keep it cold because of the machines. Lots and lots of machines. They generate so much heat that they have to keep it very cool in X-Ray 5. And imagine, me without my parka. X-Ray 5, by the way, is just one of many rooms in the Imaging department at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
“Mr. Anderson, we’re going to have you drink this contrast material,” the X-Ray technician said, “and then we’ll take images of your abdomen and digestive tract initially, at 20 minutes, at 40 minutes, at 60 minutes, and then at 120 minutes. You’re going to be here for more than 2 hours. Did anyone tell you that?” “No,” I muttered looking at my slowly freezing feet and wondering why I at least hadn’t worn something warm. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have anything warm. “The contrast material doesn’t taste very good. Sorry about that. It’s not going to be very pleasant,” the tech warned me.
And thus began my stay in X-Ray 5. And the technician was right. The contrast material was NOT pleasant going in or going out for that matter. But then again, not much had been pleasant over the previous 36 hours. My journey to X-Ray 5 began in my living room last Saturday night. I had watched Nashville beat Anaheim 3-1; my beloved Lightning didn’t make the playoffs but I’m still watching the playoffs. As I got ready for bed I was doubled over in abdominal pain and my first thoughts was “Oh no! Not again!” I just had an obstruction cleared in late February. My second thought was “I can ride this out.” 45 minutes later, I had no choice. It was back to the ER for me. Again.
The ER at SMH was busy late Saturday night. Is it ever NOT busy? I remember I kept wanting to know the time. The pain wasn’t going anywhere, but I sure wanted to be. Church was going to start at 9:15. If I could just get out of there by 6:30, then everything would be fine. After my CAT Scan, I was admitted and hauled up to the 8th floor. No church. My abdomen/stomach hurt terribly from something; my head and heart hurt from having to cancel church last-minute.
And that’s how I ended up in X-Ray 5. On Monday morning my doctor wanted a bunch of images and so I ended up there guzzling contrast and trying to kill time while I fought off boredom and frostbite. THANKFULLY the images were good. No more surgery and 5 short hours later and I was home where there was lots of Dt. Dr. Pepper waiting for me and my dog and my favorite chair. Thank you to the Elders who handled things on this end and for those who came to church on Sunday morning to let any stragglers know of my latest medical crisis that was keeping me out of the pulpit…again.
Crisis. That’s what caused me to end up in X-Ray 5. But we all have our own X-Ray 5s, don’t we? We all have areas, events, situations, people, and the like that cause us crisis. By definition, the word “crisis” means “a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger,” and that happens to ALL OF US, and the crisis of life, like X-Ray contrast, are not very pleasant.
We all have our own X-Ray 5s: times of difficulty and trouble and danger and stress and uncertainty and doubt. The times of crisis when our kids let us down or we let them down. The times when the addiction get the best of us. The times we lose a loved one or lose a cherished routine. The times when the daily grind of life is just too much. The times when the ends just won’t meet. We all have an X-Ray 5 waiting for us when we get home, right? And what are we supposed to do?
Enter the words of Peter into our crises. From today’s lesson: “(cast) your anxieties on (God), because he cares for you…Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (5:7-10). When you struggle in life, and EVEYONE struggles because of sin, you may not feel like the devil is lurking in wait. Are you so sure? Think about it. What does the devil want from you? Answer…the destruction of your faith. And what’s the fastest way to do that? Erode your confidence in God. And how does that happen? When we suffer! Ergo, if Satan can escalate your suffering, his evil needs are met. Peter tells us that as we resist firm in our faith, Christ himself will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
How does that happen? It happens knowing that God in Christ forgives you of all your sin. It happens because we know that Jesus is risen and ascended to Heaven where He prepares a place for us…much better (warmer?) than X-Ray 5. It happens when we find strength for today and hope for tomorrow when we endure the sufferings of life. It happens when we realize that Jesus is our help in ages past and our hope for years to come, including eternity.
In today’s Gospel lesson you heard a portion of John 17. This is called the “High Priestly Prayer.” It is a portion of what Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane right before His passion began. And WHO was He praying for? You. He prayed for you and all your X-Ray 5s. Jesus prayed “They have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them…for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” Notice that Jesus did NOT pray that we would never suffer. He never asked that we never have to face our X-Ray 5s. He DID pray, though, that we be kept and we be one. That, my friends, is precisely what we are. One. One body joined by one Lord, one faith, one Baptism. We gather in a fellowship of worship and service to know and worship the one True God who is One.
U.S. Army General George Patton once said “It is better to fight for something than to live for nothing.” I think “Old Blood and Guts” had a good point. We fight to resist the devil, to survive our X-Ray 5s, and to find confident strength even in suffering knowing that Jesus lives and because He lives a day will come when we will live forever too. In the meantime, we will be restored, strengthened, and established as the confident, forgiven and redeemed people of God and that, friends, is VERY pleasant indeed.
Happy Memorial Day everyone.