Sermon — Where’s the Peace? (Aurora)

Lord, let your Word always be spoken, and YOUR Word always be heard.
Let’s apply the Word of God and see if we can find some help… living in this helpless world.

We start with the Old Testament lesson..

Cedar was the rarest and most valuable timber. Perhaps David just felt guilty for living a life now of relative elegance and splendor in his new palace….. and over there was the Ark of the Covenant, and thus the imminent presence of the living God, stuck in a big tent.
And so he decided out loud to build a HOUSE for the LORD.
But that night, God informed Nathan – maybe even WOKE HIM UP to tell him something different.
He said “7 Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?'”, and then,
10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. I will also give you rest from all your enemies. ”
• So Does God think He needs a house? And if He wants one built (like he designed the
tent in the first place), will He not decide what He wants? No, God is not concerned for
HIS resting place. He is — in His heart of hearts, which is impossible to fathom how
profoundly expansive His heart is – He is concerned to provide a place of REST for HIS
PEOPLE. Even the prophet Nathan seems to have jumped the gun on that one.
• Robert Deffinbaugh:
“No matter how high and lofty our goals and plans may be, God’s plans are greater.”

Blessedly, Nathan is indeed a true and anointed prophet so that He is able to hear God speaking to him later, set the matter straight, and give him a word of prophecy for David, so that DAVID will get the matter straight, AND AT THE SAME TIME, amazingly, console David’s piety and concern to honor the Lord.
May every Church have a leader who is so pious and concerned for the glory of the Lord, and may every church have a prophet such as Nathan to hear from the Lord and help set things on their true and Godly course.
So, what do we learn from this?
One thing we learn is kind of the message that is heard with some tension between God and David, which is “don’t waste my time or yours, my money or yours, my energy or yours on projects that YOU think are important to me, without checking in with me first. Come to me, listen to me, let me direct you and guide you.” Oh that the shooter had done such.
Another thing we learn is that God loves us so much and wants so much for us and is willing to BE compassionate, and merciful and loving, that we should in fact expect to be given such love of his; that is, He WANTS US to be in peace and at rest. We have heard this message so many, many times, such as John 3:16, “that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever should believe in him will NOT perish, but HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE.”
Still, It is a message we have an extremely difficult time holding onto, even if we have heard it before, or even if we have heard it at one time where we made a decision to change our whole life to accept it.
Another thing we learn, as we make use of the other lessons today, is that – even when we have the best or worst of intentions, and these intentions of any sort move us away from the basic foundation and relationship we need for living in this alien world of ours – turning to God is the answer for getting back to solid ground, and God wants us to do just that – complete with more blessings, and further assurance, and never the withholding of His love.
Even still, with such a powerful message from God, it is in fact a fragile and perilous life we live here on this earth. As the hymn says, “Christ is made the sure foundation..”, and we need to get on it, because, “all else is shifting sand.”
One of the things that literally destroys this thinking or this decision foundation in our lives is the catastrophic events that may have happened in our life, or in the lives of others, or we have committed ourselves, whether in your home, or your own city, or somewhere else in the world.
In other words, when life is shattered we question whether there is in fact any love or care or concern coming to us from this God who says he does.
I wonder how many people chose not to go to the movies this weekend because of what happened in Colorado?
Doesn’t this kind of meaningless, hateful, irrational, action and loss of life make us question the ability to live in peace ANYwhere, and ANYtime?
But at this very moment, this is in fact where we turn as Christians: to the ONE – and the ONLY One, mind you — who DOES act for us on our behalf, and for our benefit, our iovmg Father in Heaven, His Son Jesus Christ, and our trustworthy advocate and guide, the Holy Spirit.
Listen again as we hear the Word of God answer our question, “Where is the Peace?”
From the Epistle, “14 For he himself is our peace (that is, Jesus Christ), who has made the two groups one (Paul was referring specifically to the Jews, God’s chosen people, and the non-Jews) and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh (Jesus’) the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself ONE NEW HUMANITY out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. ”
The PEACE we seek, the REST we seek, the CARE we seek, the LOVE we seek is found in God through Jesus Christ.
When you are not at PEACE, seek the cross of Jesus. When you are not at REST, seek the Father in Heaven, When you are not finding CARE and LOVE, turn to the Holy Spirit. Why? Because that’s what he gives.
And when we see and feel as in Colorado that the WORLD is in upheaval: Peace destroyed, Rest undone, the opposite of Care and Love acted out; we first turn to the One who gives it for our own reassurance, and then we pray and act for the same for that world in shambles as testimony and witness to what we know in our hearts ourselves.
Finally, let’s make some personal Christian application from what has happened in Colorado.
What can we DO for the people in Aurora? Sending blankets will not be helpful. But we can pray for an outpouring of God’s peace. Maybe write a letter of encouragement, or an email. Find someone you may know there, or have connection to through somebody else, and make a phone call. Then you are acting in Faith, and in Love, and you also may know that this is IN FACT what we have been called to do and told to do as Christians, as in the summary of the Law.
And then we pray for our enemies, that their hearts, too, will be changed.
Sometimes we need a little help in visualizing our prayers when we are interceding for far away situations and people. There is an amazing word picture brought to us in the Gospel
today that, frankly, I had reserved only for one particular moment in Jesus’ life. You remember the woman with the blood hemhorrage of many years, who pushed through the crowd as Jesus was walking by in order just to touch the hem of his robe — and she did — and Jesus “felt” power being released, — and she was released. Well, here is verse 56 of today’s Gospel again;
” And wherever he went they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.”
Not just one woman, but ALL those begging for healing just to touch the hem of his cloak –and all who touched it were healed. Hallelujah.
Right now, we can pray for Jesus — the God of healing, peace, rest, care, love becuase He is that and He wants to be that for us – to be walking through the destroyed lives of the people of Aurora, letting them touch even just the hem of his robe, that all will be healed.
And when your peace is shattered, see yourself in prayer also begging for and touching the hem of the robe of Jesus, because He is where your peace will be restored.

Lord, thank you for bringing your peace and rest because you want to.
Help us to stay on track with you, and when we are not, to turn to you for assurance and hope.
Amen.

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