Faith in the One Sure foundation

In recent weeks we have seen hurricanes and floods.  We have witnessed senseless acts of violence.  We look out upon landscapes of devastation as fires sweep across the land…  The images and events of these days recall to mind a passage from the prophet Jeremiah:In recent weeks we have seen hurricanes and floods.  We have witnessed senseless acts of violence.  We look out upon landscapes of devastation as fires sweep across the land…  The images and events of these days recall to mind a passage from the prophet Jeremiah:
I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void,And to the heavens, and they had no light.I looked on the mountains, and lo, they were quaking,And all the hills moved to and fro.I looked, and lo, there was no one,And all the birds of the air had fled.I looked, and lo, the fruitful land was a desert,And all its cities were laid in ruin…(Jeremiah 4:23-26).
A generation ago, in the late 1940s, the theologian Paul Tillich invoked this biblical text in a sermon about the terrors of war and the tribulations that had come upon the earth. He encouraged people of faith not to withdraw in hopelessness or recoil in fear when it looks as though this world will come tumbling down around them at any moment.  He said, “There is something immovable and unshakable which becomes manifest in the crumbling of our world. On the boundaries of the finite, the infinite becomes visible.  This is why the prophets were able to face the shaking of the foundations.” In other words, when things look bad is no time to avert our eyes or to bury our heads in the sand…but it is a good time to open our eyes and to look around and see where goodness is breaking forth and where grace is being made manifest and to enter into it and embrace it and share it.  As the late Fred Rogers reminded us, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”   
In the midst of dark and difficult days, when we see scary things in the news, we gather as a community of faith to declare what we know to be true… that our faith will endure even our greatest tests, that our hope will outrun even our greatest fears, and that our love will overcome even our greatest foes. Who shall separate us from the Love of Christ? the Apostle Paul asks. Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)
 
This is our faith… faith in the One, sure foundation on which all foundations are laid; and this foundation cannot be shaken.  Yes, as Paul Tillich wrote a generation ago in words that speak to all generations, There is something immovable, unchangeable, unshakable, eternal, which becomes manifested in our passing and in the crumbling of our world… For in these days the foundations of the earth do shake. May we not turn our eyes away; may we not close our ears and our mouths! But may we rather see, through the crumbling of a world, the rock of eternity and the salvation which has no end!
 
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Mark

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