First Sunday of Advent (C), November 30, 2003
Security in a Wild and Wacky World
Marty Findley. Now I know that
you don’t know Marty, but I do. He was one of the adult parishioners
in my first assignment after seminary graduation. We lived about two
hours from Cincinnati, with a large amusement park nearby. Our church
took a group over for a day of fun.
Late in the
morning Marty said, “Pastor, come on, let’s ride the roller coaster.”
I assured him that anything so wild and wacky could not be of God!
Marty nagged me until I relented and agreed to ride. After what seemed
an hour in line, watching the crazy people in those little cars going
up and down, and me trying to get out of line, and him not letting
me, we finally got into one. They strapped us in and a bar came down.
It wasn’t long until we were on our way.
first few moments were not bad. Honestly, I kind of enjoyed it.
Suddenly we were slowly going up the l-o-n-g hill and in a moment we
swooshed downward at breathtaking speed. From that moment forward I
was yelling at my now ex-friend that IF I ever got off this
contraption I was going to kill him for talking me into this
nonsense. It really was a wild, wacky ride and the only security we
had was a little piece of leather and a very small bar.
I ride along in today’s world, I get the feeling that it too, is a
“wild and wacky” journey. There are so many things that undermine my
security. In today’s scripture I find some tips on how to live in a
wild and wacky world.
Tip One. Don’t let the negative circumstances of life destroy you. (v. 25-28)
My daughter sent me one of those circulating
e-mails about a guy named Michael. He was the kind of guy you love to
hate, because he was always in a good mood and when asked how he was
doing replied, “If I were any better, I would be twins!” The story
goes that Michael fell 60 feet from a communications tower he was
working on. Reconnecting with him after the fall, the friend asked
Michael what went through his mind as the accident took place. He
answered, “The first thing that went through my mind was the well
being of my soon-to-be-born daughter. As I lay on the ground I
remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or die. I
chose to live.”
Michael was asked, “Weren’t you
scared? Did you lose consciousness?” He said, “the paramedics were
great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they
wheeled me into the ER I saw the expressions on the faces of the
doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read, ‘he’s
a dead man’. I knew I needed to take action.
nurse kept shouting questions into my ear thinking that I was deaf.
She asked, ‘Are you allergic to any-thing?’” I replied, “Yes.”
Immediately the doctors and nurses stopped working on me as they waited
for my reply.” I took a deep breath and yelled, “Gravity”. They began
to laugh. As they started back Michael said, “I am choosing to live.
Operate on me as if I am alive and not dead.”
lived, thanks to the skill of the doctors, the mercy of God and his
attitude. Whether this story is apocryphal or true the basic truth
is: Don’t let the negative attitudes override your positive,
God-given attitudes on life.
Tip Two. Don’t ignore the person that can change your outlook: God. (vv. 25-28)
like the groom on his wedding day. As he knelt for prayer someone had
written on the bottom of his shoes the word, “HELP” in big bold
We all need help and there is no
shame in asking for it. Why not ask the one who knows all, sees all,
is in all, gives direction to all, and desires to help all: God. He
loves us so much that He took on human form in the person of Jesus so
that He could know exactly how to be a help to His creation. When we
open our minds and hearts to Him, He will change our outlook on life
for the good.
Tip Three. Don’t ignore the future. (vv. 29-31)
Jesus gave the parable of the fig tree it was to be an encouragement
to all believers. Our future is in His hands! Heed the Apostle Paul’s
advice, “Always be cheerful. Pray unceasingly. Under all
circumstances give thanks, for such is God’s will for you in Christ
Jesus” (I Thess. 5:16-18, Berkeley Version)
Tip Four. Read and Believe the Word. (vv. 32-33)
Barth wrote, “God used the Scriptural Gospel to bring me to saving
faith in Jesus Christ. He has also convinced me that the Scriptures
are utterly true, inerrant, if you will; they are ‘the swaddling
clothes in which Christ is laid.’ Some will call this conviction
hopelessly naïve or a refusal to look at the findings of twentieth
century science. So be it. If the scientist is our final authority,
ask him if dead men rise.”
God’s Word will bring you to life – real and genuine life. Can you accept it?
Tip Five. Keep your eyes to the sky. (vv. 34-36)
planet is not our final home. We are inhabitants for only a short
time. It is the preparation stage for our final home . . . heaven. So
when life gets miserable, look up!
Middler sang a beautiful song about God watching us from a distance,
but that’s bad theology. Our God is not watching us from a distance,
but is involved with us close and up front. One of these days when we
least expect it, He will come again and lead us home. So watch!
my roller-coaster friend, Marty? What did I do to my “friend”? I
enjoyed the rest of the morning with him – about 7 times on the
roller coaster! You see, he helped me learn to relax on that wild and
Jesus will help us ride this wild and wacky world and will go with us!
Sermon brief provided by Derl G. Keefer, Adult Ministries Coordinator,
Church of the Nazarene, Kansas City, MO