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    Nov 13, 2016

    Finding Peace in the Midst of Chaos

    Finding Peace in the Midst of Chaos

    Speaker: The Rev. Becky Crites

    Category: Journey

    Keywords: endurance, focus, foundation, life

    Jesus says “by your endurance you will gain your lives.” The reality of this teaching is that life is not found in seeds of destruction. Life is not found in the things we cannot control. Life is found in God. On this we are to testify; on this we are to believe. Even when that walk is made difficult by the stones of human creation thrown down around us, speak of God.

    On the Temple Mount where Herod built his great temple today is an immense stone plaza. Herod’s forty-six year construction project began by first expanding the mount about the size of twenty football fields. The plaza today is the size of several football fields. Herod felt this great expansion was necessary for the city to hold upwards of a million pilgrims who would come to Jerusalem during the three great festivals of the Jewish year. A huge box with large stone walls was needed to support the work. One stone unearthed in the western wall is estimated to weigh four-hundred tons.

    But the stones of the temple walls were smaller than those of the outer walls – only 2-3 tons. These are the ones the people see when listening to Jesus speak of its destruction. Surely not, they must have thought. No one could have imagined Jerusalem without the Temple. Paris without the Eiffel Tower. London without Big Ben. New York without the Twin Towers. But as the Romans suppressed the Jewish revolt in 70 AD, Herod’s temple was destroyed.

    Besides being a massive building, the Temple is said to have been beautiful. If you had never seen the Temple, than you had never seen a beautiful building, it was said. Herod was driven by a desire to be remembered and so his time in power was marked by huge engineering projects, including the majestic Temple. As an occupied people, this Temple certainly made a statement to the Romans about whose people they were: We are the people of THIS God. And its destruction made another statement as well: So much for your God.

    No matter how we try, nothing we build is permanent. The things of this world, no matter how sturdy, tumble quickly in violent, destructive moments.

    Jesus’ end was fast approaching. And while still free to roam and teach in the temple, he seizes the moment to focus us back to God, rather than things dedicated to God. Some must have been stunned by his word for before them were these massive stones. But the disciples aren’t in disbelief about this; they just want to know when it will be.

    In our lives, when all that we have built comes crashing down, remember the one on whom our future rests; our foundation is built on a creative, caring, loving God. In times of chaos, listen for the God of creation calling forth something new.

    Jesus says “by your endurance you will gain your lives.” The reality of this teaching is that life is not found in seeds of destruction. Life is not found in the things we cannot control. Life is found in God. On this we are to testify; on this we are to believe. Even when that walk is made difficult by the stones of human creation thrown down around us, speak of God. Speak of the righteousness that rises with healing in its wings. When the music is mournful or frightening, sing a new song. Trust in the great love of the God who creates out of chaos. Speak to our souls and to each other of God.

    When Luke took out his pen to write his gospel, Rome had indeed destroyed Herod’s mighty temple. Jesus’ words were indeed prophetic. But the end of the age the disciples thought was coming didn’t come. God brought something better to God’s people. The new age is found in the resurrected life Jesus brought. This is harder to see than a massive temple. But such things are. We need eyes focused on what truly lasts – God’s love for us; a love which held nothing back.

    When I walk through an art museum I am always tempted by the beautiful – beautiful shapes, colors, beautiful displays. I have to force myself to go and look at the colorless, the odd, the old. But even there, is beauty. It’s a beauty found in looking deeply, in taking time to know what is before me. It’s all in what I see. Such is the focus needed for the times of life when our sturdy walls are falling. I can focus on what is wrong, what is fallen, what is unfair. Or I can speak of God. I can speak to and about the one who holds me forever. I can speak to the life God brings. I can speak of love because of God’s love. Only this sustains.

    After this week’s election, many wonder what is next for our nation. Half of us are happy, half are stunned and dejected. What are the words that will unite us in such chaos? It won’t be found in words of destruction nor in words of hate. And this is not found in words about making America great again. Too often this has been a narrow path focused on a false permanence.

    We must find the words of hope, words of love, words that call us to a righteous walk. We must speak of God and God’s call to us. Jesus offers a more lasting way based in gracious love to each other. This means loving the neighbor that voted the opposite of you. This means not turning away from the other but finding a way to walk together in love, even if they reject your attempt. And this means calling each other to live differently.

    Followers of Jesus today are no different from those in the temple or those in Luke’s time. Stones are always falling. But it is still about knowing God and seeking the way of God. And then speaking of God to the world. So my friends remember, even if you feel your temple destroyed – you are God’s beloved child. And so you are beautiful. You are worthy. You are accepted. And you are called to great things based in God’s love. When we speak of God as judge, remember how God does judge. Not with vengeance but with love. Not with power as the world offers power but in humble service to others. So go out and love.

    Out of the chaos that often surrounds us, we must trust in the truth of God. Out of the chaos that often surrounds us, we must love the good creation that God is bringing forth. What we build will fall. What God builds is part of a new creation that never ends. We have that vision to offer. Trust in God’s vision. Work to show it. Speak of it. And the stones of hatred will tumble as God’s justice becomes the new foundation.