Rev. Carol A. Prochaska (ret.)

November 17, 2013
Sermon Title: "All The Way in the Christ-Light"


              Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 3: 6-13; Luke 21: 5-19

A lighthouse, as we know, is a tower erected at or near a dangerous place. It is there as a warning and as a guide for ships. In the darkest of nights, in the worst of storms, in the thickness of fog the light from a lighthouse is shining. Lighthouses save lives—how many—we'll probably never know!

When Luke wrote his gospel their beloved beautiful temple could be compared to a wrecked ship; one that didn't make it through a storm! At that time there were those who thought the world wasn't going to make it either. They believed the temple destruction was an indication that the end of the world was near. Whatever we believe about the end of time, it doesn't seem to be today. However! There are still endings. For some the way of life they have known is coming to an end and life for them will never be the same.

Whatever Jesus understood about the end times his words to disciples are for living in the present. His words are for living in the midst of some of the worst life can throw at Christians—and others. Jesus names: imposters, war, conflict, natural disasters, arrests, persecutions, betrayal by family and friends, being hated, and death. One scholar suggests that these images were influenced by local conflicts in Palestine. Be that as it may these images let us know that Jesus was not, in any way, dismissing the realities of human suffering. And! And I think this is important. There is nothing here about so-called "Rapture." (Rapture being the belief held by some that a certain number of believers will, at the end of time, be lifted up into the sky while the rest of us are left behind).

Jesus is very clear that we disciples are not exempt from suffering. Like poor little duck in One Duck Stuck, we disciples, like everyone else, find ourselves in muck of some kind or other. It may be that we can't see a way out. We wonder how it is others seem to be living free of difficulties. We may be wondering if we have the patience and the strength to endure. We know fear and loneliness. We may feel foolish. We may not want to ask for help. A theologian, by the name of M. Shawn Copeland, has said: "Suffering ... can render us powerless and mute, push us to the borders of hopelessness and despair" (quoted by Barbara Brown Taylor).

Some of you know the name of the musician Tommy Dorsey. Thomas Dorsey was born in 1889 in rural Georgia. He became a songwriter and an excellent gospel and blues musician. There came at time when he was struggling to support his family so he divided his work between clubs and playing in church. But then came the day when he chose to devote his artistry exclusively to the church. In August of 1932, Dorsey left his pregnant wife in Chicago and traveled to be the featured soloist at a large revival meeting in St. Louis. After the first night of the revival Dorsey received a telegram that simply said, "Your wife just died." Dorsey raced home and learned that his wife had given birth to a son before dying in child birth. The next day his son died as well. Dorsey buried his wife and son in the same casket. He withdrew in sorrow from his family and friends. He refused to compose or play music. Still in the midst of his despair, Dorsey told it this way: "As I sat in front of the piano, a feeling of peace washed through me. I heard a melody in my head that I had never heard before and I began to play it on the piano."

Minutes ago we hear this melody and the words sung by the choir. Some of the words go like this:

Precious Lord, take my hand,
Lead me on, let me stand;
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn;
Through the storm, through the night,
Lead me on to the light; ...

"Precious Lord" by Thomas Dorsey
And so it was that God's peace was seeping into his despairing soul. And so it was that the Light—God's Light—was still shining and it was still there for him.

Jesus says: "By your endurance you will gain your souls" (the essence of who we are). The Inclusive Language Bible says it this way: "By patient endurance, you'll save your lives." The bible known as The Message says it this way: "... nothing of you will be lost. Staying with it—that's what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won't be sorry; you'll be saved."

So we don't' give up. We hold-on, we hold-out for deliverance. We cling to the promise that "YES" we will be delivered into some form of new life.

AND we heed the words in Thessalonians: "Brothers and sisters do not be weary of doing what is right." Remember how the duck got unstuck from the muck? It took two fish and three moose and crickets, frogs, and skunks and snails, possums, snakes and ten dragon flies! But it happened!

Those of us here this morning can testify to a time when we were stuck, when we seemed to be at a dead end. But here we are! We're here because it wasn't a dead end. We're here because with God there are no dead ends.