LWML Sunday 2018
October 7, 2018
“The Rest We Share”
Grace, mercy, and peace be and abide with you all in the name of our living Savior and Good Shepherd Jesus. The basis for the sermon today is taken from Psalm 62.
My dear friends,
I empathize with you if you feel like you’ve been lapped on the information “super highway;” technology that we didn’t grow up with races past us like a high performance sports car on I-75 with nothing in the windshield but open road and we get left in the dust. Social media have brought more information to the palm of our hands than ever before, and that information comes from everywhere! The days of everyone gathering around the old TV to get their news from a man like Walter Cronkite are long, long gone. Instead, we have instant news with live interviews of people experiencing real-time situations in their lives. Some of this has been a blessing. Rescuers bringing assistance to people in times of a crisis can receive calls, texts, emails, and messages from people who need help. First responders can use GPS and social media to pinpoint where people are and where the nearest rescue team is to bring help and assistance rather than wasting valuable time hunting for victims. That’s a great use of modern technology.
A side effect, though, of constant information has raised the level of fear, unhappiness, and uncertainty about their safety and their future. We can see the footage from church and school shootings, terrorist acts, and other negative events with no context that have robbed many of any sense of security or peace day after day. Instead of the world moving closer and closer to peace and love, the world is seemingly being dragged closer and closer to destruction by all the negativity we are exposed to; hatred and division, name calling, finger pointing, social unrest, and accusations of past and present misconduct, are on the rise while love, unity, and peace seem to be losing ground. Is America a country where love for God and neighbor predominate? I don’t know.
Where does a person go for peace and security in an uncertain world like ours? Throw our cell phones down a well? Find a cave and hide? Hiding will not help, but David was on to something. King David, the author of Psalm 62, was familiar with the insecurity of his world. Scholars believe David wrote Psalm 62 in response to a specific situation, his own crisis of confidence. David was under a serious attack from those who wanted to overthrow him as king, and he desperately needed shelter…he needed peace and rest.
David’s foe Absalom would rise up early in the morning and stand by the city gate – the earliest form of Facebook and how people got their news in the ancient Near East. Absalom convinced people how their lives would be better if he were king. When this news came to King David, he had to flee Jerusalem quickly, and in Psalm 62, David shares his response to threat and uncertainty. This Psalm, in the verses you heard, proclaims where we find rest and peace when we are confronted with the threats and uncertainties in our world as it is “falling apart” around us, and the answer then is just as valid today. My friends, rest and peace are found in God alone. He is the rock, fortress, and salvation we need especially in times of trial and tribulation.
You may remember Melissa Falkowski, a fellow Floridian and English teacher at the high school in Parkland, Florida (30 miles from Fort Lauderdale), who hid 19 students in her classroom closet when she learned there was an active shooter at the school earlier this year; a gunman who took 17 innocent lives. This heroic woman is a reflection of God who hides you in the shadow of His wings as evil rages (Psalm 57:1). Has evil been raging? Has it ever! In the last 10 years, America has endured more than 60 fatal school shootings. Schools never have been and never will be places of absolute peace and rest. If it’s not bullets, it’s bullies; if it’s not gunfire, it’s gossip. Who is going to rescue the students under attack from isolation, loneliness, and rejection? Who is going to rush in and help those poor souls?
Thankfully hurricane season is almost over! Most of you know what that’s like and difficult those storms can be. But there was a much greater storm than any category 5 hurricane that blew unto our shores and a greater threat than any active shooter. The storm of sin and death engulfed humanity since Eden and none can escape its hail of bullets. All of us were stranded helplessly by the floodwaters of our fallenness and gunned down where we stand in sinfulness. And that is why the greatest rescue in the history of the world took place. Jesus as our rock and our salvation came and bore our sins and punishment on himself. He is the one who died and rose from the dead not to protect us from “bad things,” but to give us great confidence and assurance no matter who attacks us or what is happening around us, because we are ALWAYS under attack by something and it’s not always bullies, bullets, winds, or waves. The only place you can find lasting rest in this turbulent world is in the One who conquered death and gives you life. Through the living Word, you receive rest. Through the presence of Jesus in Holy Communion, you share in Jesus’ grace, strength and forgiveness. This world will rage; it cannot be stopped anymore than we can step the advancement of technology. It may even injure you physically, relationally, or emotionally. But even if you’re caught in the cross-fire, Jesus, who is Lord over all, “is your rock and salvation, your fortress; we shall not be greatly shaken.”
Many congregations in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod are celebrating and thanking God this weekend for the ministry of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League – the LWML. For 76 years the LWML has been supporting mission work nationally and internationally. Locally, our LWML is heavily involved with the Health Care Kits and Hope Seeds; in 2019 they hope to take on new mission challenges and opportunities. It’s been my experience through the years that the women truly are Lutheran Women in Mission, and they are also women of encouragement. The LWML hasn’t just been collecting pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters in their mite boxes; they have also been encouraging women and men in their faith walk to find true rest in God alone. Lives have been touched through their work and people have received rest that comes from our Lord and Savior, Jesus. An area overlooked is that the LWML have funded countless students to prepare for pastoral ministry, present company included.
King David lived in uncertainty and so do we. David received from God physical and emotional rest – a rest that nothing in this world of insecurity could take away from him. And so do we. We have this same assurance as we live in this uncertain age, the promise that God is our rock and salvation – the one who loves us and sent His Son to redeem us thereby restoring the right relationship with God. Let us say daily, “My soul finds silence in God alone” and in that blessed, divine silence may you find the peace and rest you so badly seek in this uncertain world.