Posted in Sermon Sunday

Stepping into Chaos

Joshua 1:1-9; Jeremiah 29:10-14

 

When I first found out I was preaching today, I began to plan the sermon. I gathered some scriptures and made some thoughtful decisions. I wrote a paragraph of what I wanted to talk about so I wouldn’t forget when it came time to write out the sermon. Then I chose to name the sermon “Stepping into Chaos.” Then the pandemic started and I questioned everything. I question whether or not I should change the name since now we have all been forced to step into this chaos. We all are making an unknown journey. Not just those who are graduating. It was for this exact reason I chose to keep the sermon title.

I always joke and say when I graduated I stepped into chaos and I haven’t found a way out yet. I thought that would change when I graduated from college, but if anything I stepped deeper into the chaos. However I no longer see the chaos as a bad thing. What is there to learn in the chaos? Does chaos have to equate to anxiety and fear? Do we ever really step out of this chaos?

In our scripture reading from Joshua this morning, we heard the commissioning of Joshua after the death of Moses. God called Joshua to lead the Israelites into a new land that God has set aside for them. God called Joshua into chaos. But Joshua was not left to figure the chaos on his own. God gave him some pretty clear instructions and words of advice. “I will not leave you nor forsake you; Be strong and courageous.” There is no reason to fret among the chaos because God is there alongside you and will not leave you. God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous seven times in the beginning of his call. Where does our strength and courage come from? God tells us that as well. God tells us that if we act in accordance to the law we will have success. Our strength and courage comes from the Word of God. God calls us into the chaos, walks with us through the chaos, and even provides our strength within the chaos.

The second set of scripture came from a place of Chaos. Jeremiah and his people already stepped into the chaos and were looking for a way out. The answer they received was to wait a little while longer. Seventy years longer to be exact. They are supposed to wade through the chaos for seventy more years. Y’all I took that step five years ago when I walked across that stage and thinking of sixty-five more just seems insane! But God slips in another nugget of wisdom for bracing the chaos. “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”

Our seniors this year are experiencing a whole new way of stepping into the chaos. Some may even feel as if they are being thrown into the chaos with no graduation ceremony to serve as an official mark of the start to chaos. Others are virtually taking that step without their friends physically around them. Some seniors know their plans for after high school others have no idea. The door to chaos is open and there is no other route to take. However, walking through that door is the hardest part. God is calling you into the chaos.

God knows what God is doing even when you have no idea. The chaos we have stepped into is a planned chaos. Switching your major fifteen times or making a career change later in life. Switching Schools or taking some time off. All of these are the twists and the turns God has for you leading you exactly where you are meant to be. It is important to trust God throughout these changes. Trusting God’s plan can be hard, there is no doubt, but it is so worth the struggle. Seek out people who are further along the path, people you worship with or friends you meet along the way. Share wisdom with each other. And Remember God has a future worth hoping for planned out just for you. How is that we know we are following the plans God has for us?

Call out and pray to God. Seek God with all of your heart. There you will find God. Together you will make the journey through the chaos and into the joy of knowing you are doing exactly what you were made for. So, be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed for the lord your God is with you wherever you go.

©Kay Smeal 2020

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Posted in Sermon Sunday

July 8 2018

Deuteronomy 6:5

Leviticus 19:18

Matthew 22:37-40

In Matthew 22:37-40, and it’s parallel verses, Jesus sums up all of the Old Testament laws with just two Great Commandments. This is impressive because there are 613 Old Testament Laws. All of these laws have been summed up to love. Which I think we do lose a bit in translation with these two commandments. If you look at the Greek, Jesus says, “You will love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind” and “you will love your neighbor as yourself.” We’re not given an option here. Jesus is literally commanding us, yet we treat them as options sometimes.

So let’s dive into the commandments a bit more. “You will love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Let’s start with all your heart since that is the easier part. When we think of love we think of something dear to our hearts; family, friends, pets. Here we are told to love God with all of our hearts. Not just a piece. Now I know I said this is the easy part and you are all sitting there going I already don’t have enough of my heart to go around. Well… just wait.

Next we have, “You will love the Lord your God with all your soul.” I think we lose a bit in translation here too. The Greek word is psyche which means life. And not just the fact that you’re alive, but with everything that is your life. The job you have should be done loving God. The relationships you have should be aiding in your love towards God. The free time you may or may not have should be spent living God. You should be living your life loving God in preparation for spending eternity praising God.

Alright, so now you know that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul. Next we will love with our whole mind. This one word, mind, covers the rest. Mind is our words, our thoughts, our knowledge, and our imagination. All we say, think and know should be loving God. To sum this all up, every piece of our heart, everything we do, all we say and all we think should be done by loving God. This should be easy right? I mean look at the God we serve! He is worthy of all that. Yet, we get busy, our mind wanders, and we are all human. However, we can only love because God first loved us. Therefore as long as we are striving to love God with all we are and strive to be in a constant relationship with God then God is pleased. It’s when we begin to wander away, when we begin to place things before God, that God gets sadden with our absence. But He never stops loving us. We aren’t perfect and God doesn’t expect us to be.

All of that and we haven’t even got to the second commandment yet. Take a deep breath. Are you ready? The second is like it, you will love your neighbor as yourself. This too is multifaceted. Who is our neighbor? Que the story of the great Samaritan. We are to love the least, the last, the lost, and everyone else as our neighbors and therefore as ourselves. Now this leaves room for one tricky excuse. I don’t love myself much so I don’t have to love others much. Sadly, we hear this more often than we should. If you struggle with this, Think of the love God has for you, but overflowing, never ending love. What God sees in you is what you should see in you. Then you should see that and everyone else is well. God loves everyone, and that is your neighbor is. If you think about it the second commandment falls under the first one since it is an action of love and God by loving others. So, why would you just choose to state it as well? He chose to state this just to show how important it is to love others especially when it’s just plain easier not to sometimes.

I just recently saw church sign that said, “God loves me God loves you let’s love each other.” The first time I saw I just kind of dismissed it, but then it kept coming back to me. And since it was on my path from Tyrone to Morrisdale, I saw an awful lot. Then I began to realize that this commandment really is just as simple as the church sign makes it look. If God loves your neighbor just as much as He loves you, why shouldn’t you love your neighbor? That was the question I had for my weekly devotion and I would really recommend doing the same thing yourselves.

Either way, challenge yourself to begin fulfilling these commandments the new ways. Maybe that’s a new spiritual practice to grow closer to God. Maybe it’s reaching out to new people in your community. Maybe they’re trying to compliment someone everyday. Whatever it maybe love. Love with all you are. Love with all you do. Not only will your relationships here on earth begin the blossom, they are relationship with God will grow expeditiously as well. You could even say Jesus knew what he was talking about.

Let us pray:

God we thank you for loving us no matter what, 24 seven, no exceptions. We thank you for sending your son to pay for the way and even die, so we may live with you eternally. We thank you that the Holy Spirit resides in each of us, so we may begin to love as you love. Grant us the ability to open our hearts, souls, and minds to love more. Then open our eyes to see your neighbors the way you do, Lord. May we honor you and all that we do amen!