Mar 19, 2019

“In the world you will have trouble, but I leave you my peace

That where I am, there you may also be Remember you did not choose me,

no I have chosen you. That where I am, there you may also be

Up where the truth, the truth will set you free.”

As often happens during my sermon preparation, songs will come to mind. This week, it was Rich Mullins, “That Where I am” based on the words in John 15. As I considered the persecution represented in the church at Smyrna, I was reminded that the shadow of the cross followed Jesus all his life. Gathering in the Upper Room, he knew that soon he would give his life.

It’s easy to skip past the event of the cross. Sunday services go from Palm Sunday to Easter. You have to make the extra time to attend Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Protestant crosses hang triumphantly empty. Still, the cross is a primary way that Jesus meets us in the struggle of life. His lamenting cry, My God, my God why have you forsaken me” speaks to his agony and pain. Such moments are honest and real. When we struggle, Jesus’ words and promises remind us that we can speak our hearts in anger and despair. It acknowledges that God may seem hidden or unconcerned but listens. 

 Recapping Sunday, there are many reasons why we suffer. Day to day life presents struggles and challenges. Illness and finances, death and grief send us into chaos and uncharted territory. Our own choices can have negative consequences. We stand for what we believe in a world where it is easier to simply go along and the reaction isn’t always positive. Yet, in each of these moments Jesus stands with us, walks beside us. Some moments are for silence. Others are for crying out. Others are for courage. All of them have the promise and hope given to us by God’s presence.

Rich Mullins was working on “That Where I Am” and other songs for a new CD when he was killed in a traffic accident. Other musicians came together so that the album could be finished. His choice of words reminds us that he believed the promises of Jesus and lived them to the very end. On the album, the song begins with his scratch self-recording and then others join in. It is a reminder that we stand together. As hard and isolating as grief is, others stand around us. They sing the song with us. They move us toward hope. We join together even when life is difficult.

If you feel alone in this moment, look around. Take the risk of sharing your struggle with someone. As our “Pauses  for Lent” suggested last week “Ask.”

Wherever you are today, look for an opportunity to offer a kind word or stop and listen. The witness of the early church was consistently love. They took seriously Jesus’ words to turn the other cheek and chose not to respond with hatred or violence. The call remains the same for us today.

 Christ’s peace,

Pastor Kim