Jesus Shall Reign

4814377195_7e29a73d74_zSince I’ve come back to serve this congregation, I’ve talked a lot about fear.

At first, I was talking more about the anxiety of talking to others about our faith and doing something differently to invite people into our lives in order to share the love of God.

But this week, this week, I need to talk about a fear that reaches deep into our souls and paralyzes us from living the life that we are called to live.

Last weekend as bombs and guns shattered a regular Friday night of amusements in Paris we felt our own sense of security and peace shatter. Closer to home, our community’s heart was ripped open when last weekend a high school student took his own life.

The events of the last week have left us with more tears, much grief and many fears that make us long to hide ourselves behind closed doors and pray that we will be safe.

It only follows that events like these make us feel more insecure, more fearful, and more timid about anything we do.

But there is more than those insecurities. More than our fears. More than our timidity as we remember that today, we look to Christ our King. Today, we remember that our God reigns even as the kingdoms of this world bellow and threaten.

In case we thought that perhaps ours is the only generation to have lived through fears and uncertainties we only need to look to the bible to hear the voices of those who have also been afraid and yet have heard the voice of God calling out to them reminding them to ‘be not afraid.’

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day regarding her fears surrounding world events. She was asking many of the same genuine questions that many of you have been asking. It was clear from our conversation that she was afraid that the life that she has lived up to now was in jeopardy.

While we were talking the pastor in me came out and I reminded her that life looked pretty grim for the disciples during Jesus’ trial, so much so that Peter, the eager one, betrayed him and left him alone to face the earthly powers of violence and death. I reminded her that few of the disciples that followed him while he was living, were there to witness his death. I reminded her that in the days that followed, the disciples locked themselves into a room hiding behind closed doors.

But then I reminded her that they met the risen Christ. I reminded her that Christ is King who defeated death by facing it and allowing it to do its worst to him. I reminded her that in suffering and death on a cross, Jesus met God in the midst of it.

And it was not the end of the story because the God who is and who was and who is to come created new life out of it all.

I remind you of those things as well today.

Our early ancestors in faith experienced their own times of trial and the book of Revelations was written by them during a time when they faced persecution and death for following Christ. Yet they could speak of “grace and peace from the God who is and who was and who is to come.”[1] They could assure each other that they were made to be a kingdom which had no end.[2] They could speak of God’s presence coming to them in the face of much persecution, tragedy and even death itself.

You see the kingdom of Christ “is not from this world”[3] and yet it offers us a sense of peace in the midst of the horrors of the kingdoms of this world.

What are the horrors that you fear?

What are those things that make you want to hide under the covers of your bed?

What are those things that wake you up in the middle of the night with your heart in your throat?

What are those things we need to bring to God?

Because it’s important for us to recognize our fears and to speak them out loud so that we are not paralyzed by them, I’d like you to take some time to write out any fears that hold people’s lives hostage. I’d like you to spell out those fears that keep you from sleeping at night. After you have written them, I will invite you to speak them out loud so that we can offer these fears to God.

It would be easy to take these fears home with you and hold onto them with all of our might as if living with the fear protects us from very real and potent danger.

But there is something healing, something peaceful, something good letting them go to the God who brings the kingdom of peace and the kingdom of love which Jesus showed us in his life and in his death and which he ushered in through the resurrection.

Over the next few weeks, the worship committee is inviting you to bring those things that represent these dark places in our world, in our lives and in our souls where we need the light of Jesus to break in. I invite you to acknowledge these fears and bring newspaper articles or other items that represent them and lay them at the altar of the One who reigns.

But today I want to leave off reminding you that we serve the King of peace and the Lord of love.

We serve the God who is, in these moments of terror. We serve the God who was in many other moments of fear throughout all of history. We serve the God who is to come no matter what the future holds.

I leave you with the words of the final verse of that great hymn of Luther’s, A Mighty Fortress (#504).

“God’s Word forever shall abide, no thanks to foes, who fear it;

for god himself fights by our side with weapons of the Spirit.

Were they to take our house, goods, honor, child or spouse,

though life be wrenched away, they cannot win the day.

The kingdom’s ours forever!”[4]

Sermon preached on November 22,2015 based on John

[1] Revelations 1:4b

[2] Revelations 1:6

[3] John 18:36

[4] Martin Luther. “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” in Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006.

Photo Credit: “Because of Your Love I am Free”, © 2010 David Woo, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio

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