September 12, 2016

September 11th 2016

Let us pray: 

Dear Lord, as we gather this morning we ask for your blessing.  We are a people who need to have their eyes open.  To see the world as it is.  To see the attacks that your son was under and what we received today.  Lord we stand on the date of an anniversary but not just one but a plethora and we stand on faith with you.  Lord help us to open our eyes so that we can find the bright future you have planned for us.  Lord make this message not mine but yours.  Allow me to be your messenger and to bring to this body a word of hope Help us all to understand not just teaching of Jesus but the history of our world.  All of this I pray in Jesus name.       Amen

Today I want us to consider one question with three points.  When it comes to our future are we doomed, merciful or just Sheep?  This is just what Jesus was trying to get the people of His time to understand. To begin we need to look at our basic human nature.

I wonder how many of us truly look at our lives and pondered our existence.  When we do, what do we see?  Is our future bleak showing no matter what we do we are doomed?  People like this are a quandary to me.  They are the same ones who will denounce God and say that He has nothing to do with them or their future.  But without a doubt when something goes wrong are the first to put the blame on God.  Ever notice when a person passes what do so may say why did God take, my husband or my brother or my father.  I love people who have no time for God suddenly at these times see Him as real and see Him some eternal villain or enemy.

Then we have a group with a much different world view.  They are looking for the miraculous.  They see everything that happens whether for good or bad in the merciful light of God?  When I hurt my leg I give God praise because it helps me to know how good it feels when I am not hurt.  When I am not hurting I give praise to God for not hurting.  Whatever we do, or do not do, we need to focus ourselves on God and what he does for us.

A third set looks still from another perspective, this is the one I would refer to as sheepal.  Sheepal do not see God as an enemy or giver of the miraculous.  Instead they see Him in the role of a protector and a provider.   They are the ones who wander away from the rest and find themselves in trouble and call out for him and dutifully He searches them out and brings them back.

What I mean by this some are pessimists, optimists, or just led from place to place and need to be cared for because they cannot fully care for themselves.

All of these are addressed in our text today.  Then after we do I would like us to look at several historical events that took place on this day in history.

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Would it not be a wonderful to be known as a Church that welcomes sinners?

Before I share the story I have for us I want to reinforce that we are not a museum for the saints but a hospital for sinners.  There once was a story about a homeless man whose hair was too long and was not able to bath regularly and when he sought shelter in the Church he was turned away at the door time and time again.  As he lay in the gutter a man walked up to him one who also had long hair he reached down and helped the man up.  “What do you want he asked, the man said, “to go inside and be part of the service”.  The other man with long hair just smiled and introduced himself, “Well I am Jesus and I have also been trying to get in this church for years.”

This is the struggle Jesus faced during that diner.  He was trying to reach out to those in need.  Yet the Pharisees and the Sadducees did not understand him.  So he told them this parable.  “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Then Jesus takes another tact.  “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says,

‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’   I ask you what is Jesus obsession with money?  Well He’s not.  Instead He was focusing on the Woman’s Schatwah this was a wedding band each coin represented the dowry and signified the marriage relationship of the woman. Much like modern wedding rings do.  In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

So we need to know that God cares for each one of us.  God wants us to stay together and not wander, but when we do he moves heaven and earth to find us bring us back and reestablish a right and righteous relationship with Him.

This is something that has been hard to do through the years since over and over again in our history we find ourselves in conflict.   This conflict will at times pit us against the world.  Yet at others times we find different religious factions pitted against one another. I would need months to properly cover all the battles in the Old Testament.  So instead let’s limit our focus to those that took place on the 11th of September.  Now please note I did not say what year.  Today we will look back at this day through history.

Our first example is of a battle between Mohamad’s forces and those of Christianity.  The great Siege of Malta began September 11th 1563.  This armada came by sea 200 ships, 40,000 fighting men 6,000 Suleiman’s elite infantry, 9,000 Calvary seven huge siege cannon two of which were capable of hurling a 600lbs boulder up to a mile and a half.  Opposing them were 600 knights a few thousand mercenaries.  The plan was to take Malta evict the Spanish and invade Sicily and Italy.     The battle was such a devastating loss that the 40,000 troops that set sail from Constantinople only 10,000 returned.  The attacking forces assumed they would take the city in a few days but the siege lasted 112 days leaving the enemy with no supplies and having to admit defeat and return home.

Our next historical narrative the day is September 11th 1683.  An Army of 300,000 Muslim warriors was marching towards saint Peters Basilica with the goal of making it into a mosque.  They never got the chance.  A battle took place on September 11th at Vienna which they called the Golden Apple, with only 60,000 defenders they decisively struck the enemy force routing them and stopping the advancement of the global caliphate.

Many other battles occurred on or around the date of September 11th making this a day that signified global defeats.  This is speculated as one reason the attacks were timed for the day of September 1st 2001.  They tries to take back the power erase the defeats they had suffered over the years.  In the end more than 3,000 innocents died in what our country sees as an unprovoked attack.  Let’s not forget on the eleventh anniversary of September 11th was when our Embassy in Benghazi was attacked.

So now you are thinking great history lesson but what does this all have to do with our text today.  Studying these stories helps us to answer my original question.  When it comes to our future are we doomed, merciful or just Sheep?

When 300,000 attacked and only 60,000 were found to defend.  When a few thousand faced off defending against 55,000, what kind of future did they think they had?  During 2001 when the attacks happened and the rescuers were trying so desperately to save people did they feel doomed, God’s mercy or were they just frightened sheep?

To answer this we need to think about how we see not just the past but by knowing it we need to think how we will see the future.  We have three choices, we can crawl into a shell in fear and terror knowing we are doomed.  We can be those who see world events and know the power of God is such that no matter what we will have the miraculous lives as a blessed people. A people who can find the power of God while seeking His mercy.  Or are we like sheep?  Doomed to leave the flock due to our own stubbornness and wander off lost until Jesus has to come search  and find us?

Usually I leave us with a positive message instead this Sunday I leave all of us with a choice, one that we all need to answer for ourselves.

Then we look back it shapes who we are.  When we look forward it shows us who we potentially can be but when we live for God and place our trust in Him we will know how precious we are to him and there will be rejoicing in heaven!   Amen