That our Prince of Peace entered the world as a helpless child and left it as a crucified outcast tells me that God’s kingdom is one in which self-giving, vulnerable, love reigns supreme.
We are not at the mercy of terrorists. They are at our mercy as we live in flesh and blood and bone the loving mercy of Jesus Christ, Emmanuel-God-With-Us, who was and is and is to come. As the orange-suited martyrs cried to Jesus on their sandy beach deathbeds, evil crumpled. They have no power over Jesus Christ, they have no power over the world to come, they have no power over your soul.
According to Scripture, then, the post-deluge world is like Eden, but diminished; in contrast, the new heavens and new earth will be like Eden, but elevated.
Our youngest, Duke, was one of these tender branches grafted into the faith that had been nurtured in him from birth.
Duke took the oath he was making seriously.
A week prior our son wrestled with whether or not he was actually ready to make such a hefty proclamation. His reservation? An unanswered (and I would add unanswerable) question that loomed heavy on his fledgling heart…
“Why did God ‘allow’ his brother to die?”
It seems, then, that God would not want anything bad to happen in the world, and he certainly has the power to stop them from happening. Yet bad things—unimaginably horrific things—happen every day. Over many centuries, philosophers and theologians have attempted to solve this problem by explaining why God would choose to create a world like ours, where humans and animals frequently endure physical pain and emotional anguish.
But I do know this. In the midst of uncertainty and danger and fear, they chose not to give into the fear. They chose to do the right thing, even when they were afraid. They chose to trust that God had a plan, even in the midst of human brokenness.
This sermon was preached in the days following tornadoes in Oklahoma. Elijah was on the run. He had fled the wrath of his archenemy,…