Saturday, November 20, 2010

C, Last Sunday of the Church Year Proper 29 - Colossians 1:11-20, Psalm 46 "Stop in the Name of Love"

There’s no doubt we live in busy times. Many of us have our days filled even before they begin. Some are so busy that on going to bed they can’t sleep from thinking about what needs to be done tomorrow. Does tomorrow ever come?

At the beginning of the day some of us rise early to meet the storms which await us. These are people who busy themselves with the attitude when the going gets tough the tough get going. And they definitely get going without a moment’s delay! They grab the bull by the horns busily brawling with their beast.

If you’re a person like this every minute of your day is filled. “Where does the time go?” So focused on the tasks at hand there never seems to be a time to relax, sit down, and take the load off the feet.

Or alternatively, one might busy themselves in the tasks of relaxation. To an outsider watching this person’s tiring efforts relaxing might raise thought, “if this is how they relax I’d hate to see them work!” These people often seem superior or second to none in their work ethic. So dedicated, so focused, it might seem these people are supreme super humans!

Busy as a bee, people like this seem to get busy living, or are they in fact busy dying? Like a busy bee, life flies past in a flash, regardless their life’s length; toilsome duty seems to rush them through life to death. However, on their death beds, do they lament over not having busied themselves more? Did they ever stop to smell the roses?

Another type of person who always busies themselves is not as obvious as the person who can’t sit still. Rather this person seems to be relaxed; maybe just a little too relaxed at first sight. But on the inside boils a nervousness which makes the person so insecure they end up doing nothing. Well so it seems, to those around them! However, these people too are very busy; the storm clouds aren’t out there. No! They’re in here, in the heart.

Imminent and eminent, or looming and well-known, are these storms to those who see them towering on the horizon of their hearts. To those who observe this type of person they might think they’re not up to much. But really they are frozen with fear! They’re so consumed by worry and doubt their lives appear inactive yet they are anything but inactive on the inside as their troubles tower overhead.

And so we have two types of people. Those who can’t sit still because they are so busy, and then there are those who do sit still but are completely oblivious to what’s going on around them because their hearts are busy buried in worry and doubt.

In Psalm 46 God calls you to… “Be still and know that I am Lord”. It’s such a simple sentence, so why does it sentence us to so much strife? Is there any of us that can truly “stop” and let the Lord be the Lord?

Those who have hectic lives struggle to stop moving because they believe if they do, they might miss out, they might look slack, they might not be doing the right thing, or they might begin to see their need to be busy is actually their weakness. And in being still and seeing their limitations they might begin to know they need a Saviour.

On the other hand, those who seem still but are shaking with constant doubt and worry within — here the call to stop, to be still and know God — are forced into deeper and deeper worry and doubt. If they stop and rest from their worry and doubt, they might notice this Lord they are meant to be still before, and he will see their hearts and be the storm of all storms raging over their lives of fear and confusion.

So both the movers and the shakers of this world have great trouble in being truly still and knowing that God is Lord. Which are you? A mover or a shaker? Or perhaps a bit of both?

Whoever you are your Heavenly Father seeks peace for you; he wants to provide and sustain you. Jesus Christ, God the Son, has a gracious desire to rescue you and carry you home. And God the Holy Spirit want to be your mover and the shaker willing you to Christ and in him find rest.

And so God calls you to stop and be still in Jesus Christ. He sends the Holy Spirit to move those shaking in fear and to shake those moving towards death. God calls you to be still in he who is above all things and through all things. Hear about Jesus in whom you’re called to be still…

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. (Colossians 1:15–18 ESV)

To be preeminent means Jesus is supreme, the highest of the high, and second to none. Yet we might ask how is Jesus supreme, and we find his supremacy in his stillness on the cross, where he bowed his head, gave up his spirit, and where all was finished and stopped for us whose spirits busy themselves in the storms of life which come and go.

In Psalm 46 we hear… the nations rage, the kingdoms totter, and God can utter his voice and the earth melts (v. 6). But even so with the Lord, the God of Jacob with us, he is our strength and refuge; he is our help in trouble. With God we have nothing to fear. He has the power to stops all conflicts in us, upon us, and surrounding us.

Together the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit — our Triune God — is the mover and shaker of everything. In the Father we find refuge, Jesus is our only true strength, and our helper is the Holy Spirit. He teaches us to give up our spirit, letting Christ begin it and finish it for us at the cross. Then in Christ the Holy Spirit can begin to move us and conform us in accordance with the Spirit of God.

But what is the power of this Spirit? It is the power of love in whom God has his being. Jesus bore this Spirit and therefore the power of love, because he is God… For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:19–20 ESV)

Years ago there was a song sung by a group of three, who ironically have the name, The Supremes. They sang a song called, Stop in the name of Love. But we have a Supreme Three-in-One, Triune God who also calls you and me to “Stop in the name of Love”, or to be still and know that I am God. Through Jesus’ blood spilt on the cross you know that God is love, and his love is transferred to those who stop and allow that love to be powerfully transmitted into us and through us by the Holy Spirit.

The fact of the matter is God knows you and he knows best. He knows his children need him to take us into his rest, into Christ’s rest on our cross and in the tomb. Why? Because left to ourselves and our own righteousness we are busily, blindly, toughing it out towards eternal turmoil. Those who rely on self motivation and continue refusing God are toiling toward eternal separation from God; drowning in worry and doubt not knowing true love.

If you’re one who is bound by busyness, running here and there never getting done what you believe needs to be done. If you’re one whose mind is busy with worry and doubt; or if you’re somewhere in between — God calls you to stop and be still, in the name of Love. Stop and know God; stop and know his love. Be still and know that the Lord is your Righteousness; he has finished ALL righteousness out of love for you.

Let he who is Preeminent, he who is Supreme, execute justice and righteousness for you, in you, at your cross — in your baptism. Pray for the Holy Spirit to remain in you and continue to give you faith as you hear his Word. Amen.

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Amen. (Colossians 1:11–14 ESV)