Thursday, December 7, 2017

Hope in a world of Anxiety - Mark 13

Hope Vs Anxiety
Tony E. Dillon-Hansen
6 Dec 2017

A Sermon based upon Isaiah 9:2; Psalm 80; Mark 13: 24-27

Will you pray with me?  Let God guide our senses, our hearts and our ears to receive the lessons given to us.  May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our Rock, Our Redeemer.

And All God’s Children Say:

First, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge today’s feast celebrated in many parts of the world.  Today marks the feast of St. Nicholas [of Myra] of whom we get many of the legendary characteristics of “Santa Claus.” There are several stories that surround St. Nicholas, aka Sinterklaas or St. Nick.

Despite immense odds and a civilization so focused upon military and social status,
the story says that St. Nicholas was willing
to help people in need and to provide comfort to those going to sea.
St. Nicholas followed heart and faith to love God and to love neighbor.
St. Nicholas provided hope.

In contrast, our Scripture in Psalm 80 is a grim painting of the history of one nation (Israel).  There are many parallels from that image to our own nation here today.

In our world today, our society is full of anxiety, depression and fear, and it is practically dripping from peoples’ lips (when not trying to sell some product.)

Anxiety is the opposite of hope.
It is the Negative opposite of positive.
It Consumes instead of inspires.
Causes Worrying instead of uplifting.

A wise one (Pastor Dave) recently talked about letting go of anxiety.
Alternatively, one could ask to let hope be your guiding light.

I could describe more about anxiety itself.
We know what anxiety feels like and looks like.
We see it everyday in the news with taunts, teasing, fears, angers, and hate spewing from people (some in prominent positions of influence both religious and political.
We can easily relate to the feelings expressed in Psalm 80.

Of that why would we want to restore a state of injustice?
Instead, We want to move forward in the light of God.

Thus, we have “walked in darkness [and] we have seen a great light.”

This bit from Isaiah evokes a sense of Hope despite the darkness with the light that shines.

What is beyond the light?
What does your hope look like, feel like?

Our Gospel from Mark posits, be careful of what you are looking to find.

If we focus upon devastation, war, injustice, and bitterness
without understanding our goal -- or our hope,
we are stuck looking into darkness at fear, injustice and hate.

A lesson from martial arts applies here.
When we hold on to a struggle, we cannot be free of that struggle.
When let go of the struggle, the grip of violence and anxiety, we can be free.

If we stop for just a moment,
instead of focusing upon negative,
center ourselves and
look toward the future with open eyes and wandering,
what do you see?

Can you see the green pastures of your hopes?
The clear still waters where God leads us?
Can you see the face shining upon you, O Child of God?

If you cannot, you are still focused upon the anxiety,
You are still holding onto the anxiety.

If nothing else, Let the hope of St. Nicholas alleviate your anxiety
for just a moment
and let hope be.
Fill yourself with calm and faith,
the gifts of Christ are right here.

Let go!
Witness hope in your breath.
Witness hope in your being.
Witness hope in your family.
Witness hope in your heart.

We can witness hope.
So Witness hope in the warmth of Church.
Witness hope in the community.
Because through these, we can witness God.

Then you can rest with great anticipation.
Then you may witness the light of Isaiah, of God.

For those of us living in darkness, let the light shine
And reveal the Hope and promise of Christ.
In this season of Advent, a season of promises,
Come home to hope, peace, love and joy.
Let’s build on the hope.

Thanks Be to God.

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