As most of you know, I've been on vacation the past 10 days. It
was a restful vacation, spent at the beach in Virginia Beach and
then at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina. Much happened within me
spiritually. At first glance it would not seem that it was
spiritual, but the events of my vacation affected me, changed me,
in a way that could only be described as spiritual. When we have
time to reflect on the happenings of our day, we become aware of
how led we are by the Holy Spirit. Whether or not we reflect on
the happenings of our day, or understand them is up to us, but
nevertheless, the Holy Spirit is there to guide us into awareness
Most of us are too caught up in our days to reflect upon them
and to see the connections or perhaps even see lost opportunities
or see how we didn't make the most beneficial choices. We just
label the day as good or bad or horrid, difficult. You notice
there are more negatives there than positives. And even if we say
we had a good day, we very often qualify it with something like
"it won't last though" or "if I had a day this good, there must be
something really bad around the corner."
But, vacation made me see I needed to take time to reflect. I
was able to see the connections. I was able to see how the Holy
Spirit led me to particular people or places and movies, and that
it was up to me to reflect upon the connections so that I might
gain some insight.
I did see lots of movies. Actually, going to the movie theatre,
I saw five movies, but I rented many videos to get caught up on
ones I had missed that I wanted to see. In my remarks tomorrow
afternoon, as speaker at the Memorial Day Ceremonies at the
American Legion Post after the parade, I will make reference to
one, TROY. It has many battle scenes, but it's really an anti-war
movie. Some of the statements Achilles makes, he the greatest of
warriors, are very anti-war. But those aren't the statements I
make reference to. I hope you'll come to the ceremonies, not only
to hear what I have to say, but because we are a nation at war,
and daily our men and women are dieing and we must not let their
great sacrifice go without honor.
There was more talk of God in the movie TROY, although they
spoke, of course, of their Greek gods, than there was in two other
movies I saw just Friday night: "Raising Helen" and "The Day After
In the movie, "Raising Helen," Helen enrolls the three children
who have been entrusted to her care by her late sister and
brother-in-law, in a Lutheran School. She meets and dates the
Lutheran Pastor. The writers almost make him a buffoon. And even
though he is in her life, and the kids are in the school, the
movie never has her turn to God to help her through any of the
enormous responsibility she faces, and nothing is said to help the
kids, all three who have just lost their parents in a car
accident. Why have the character be a pastor? Why have it be a
"church school" if it is not relevant to the plot? I learned that
in the very basics of writing short story and plays: everything
must be relevant to the plot, and move it forward.
And the other movie, "The Day After Tomorrow," about the deadly
affects of global warming, the only reference to God is made by a
man who loves books and is holding on to one large book. A girl
asks him if he thinks
God is going to help him. He says he is holding the book
because it is an original copy of the Gutenberg Bible. And its
value, to him, is not that it is a Bible, but that it was the
beginning of the printed word.
Here they are, all the characters, faced with possible
destruction of the world and no one, no one, refers to God. Not
even to wonder why all this is happening? Not even to get angry at
or question God.
So, what's my point? First of all, I believe I was led to those
two movies-I saw them one following the other. I actually only saw
that they were playing, they opened that day at that theatre,
because I was on my way to the lighthouse at Hatteras but realized
as I was driving, that it was further than I thought and I wasn't
going to get there before it closed. So, I decided I would see
what time the movies were playing and found I could get to see
Why do I think I was led there? Because it affected me as a
pastor. It affected how I will live out my ministry and affected
what I will emphasize. And it's appropriate that I start today, on
Pentecost, where the action and power of the Holy Spirit is
revealed; where the Christian Church becomes a universal church,
one that is for all people not just the Jewish People, and a
church, only a church because of the people, that is empowered by
the Holy Spirit.
Jesus tells us that he has fulfilled his role and now it is the
third aspect of God, the Holy Spirit who will advocate for us, who
will teach us everything and remind us of all that Jesus has
taught us. And Jesus says, that "the one who believes in me will
also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works
than these, because I go to the Father."
We have to take our role and responsibility as believers
seriously folks. We have been given the message of hope; the
message of love; the message of compassion; the message of
forgiveness. WE are to bring that message to a world that is
desperate to hear it. Satan has a loud voice. Satan fills the
papers and TV and radio AND movies with messages of despair, of
fear, of hate, of hopelessness.
The entire movie about the cataclysmic changes in the climate
of the earth focused on the fear and panic and chaotic responses
of the people. One scene where three men are about to die, where
they have had some time to recognize this, their final act is to
share a bottle of scotch together. Not a word or a hint of prayer
for themselves or anyone else. Other people run in fear, and even
when they have a time of safety, there is STILL no mention of
asking God for strength or guidance.
Yes, it's a movie. But I'll bet you that I am one person in a
hundred thousand, if not more, who noticed that God was missing.
Sure it's just a movie, but movies are like TV or the
newspapers-people consciously or unconsciously believe what they
read or see. And they don't even recognize what's missing.
I'm not protesting against the movie that they had no one
turning to God. What I'm saying is that you and I have let this
happen. We have neglected what we are called to do-and that is
EVEN GREATER THINGS THAN JESUS DID-and the very basic of that is
to hold out love and hope to others. Instead, we get caught up in
the fear and despair ourselves and what comes out of our mouths
only feeds the negativity, the hopelessness.
People. People. No. No. The Holy Spirit as anointed each
believer. We have incredible power at our disposal, yet how are we
using it? Listen to your own conversations. Listen to your own
responses to others.
Just because you hold out hope doesn't mean you're a Pollyanna,
or that you believe in "pie in the sky," or that you see the world
through "rose colored glasses." We have let the Devil turn our
heads from the truth! The truth is that there is GREAT hope. There
is GREAT love in the world. We have let the Devil distort our
vision and attitude by believing that what we see and hear in the
news is a true picture of the world.
Or we get caught up in listening to people who have come to
love their complaining and attitude of despair. It is much easier
to complain and to gripe than it is to take a stand for something;
to take positive action. God has called each of us to positive
action. God hasn't called us to speak a message of hope to the
whole world, but HAS called us to speak those words to those we
encounter every day: family, friend, stranger. I'm not talking
about reciting Bible verses to someone. I'm talking about having
your words to others be hopeful ones, not ones that further fear
or a feeling of helplessness or hopelessness.
Do you remember last year I was listing the 15th of every month
as a "no negativity day?" It was a follow up to a sermon. Just one
day. One day. Make a simple start: see if you can be who you say
you are, a believer in the message of Christ, a bearer of the
message of hope, for just one day.
If WE don't hold out the hope, if we don't do it, then God will
find someone else and we'll be left with our despair, our words of
hopelessness. If Christians give up on the power of the Holy
Spirit to assist them in spreading the message of Christ that is
hope, and promise, and compassion, and forgiveness, then they will
find that God will find another way to make that known. Christians
will find they have turned away from God in a time of the world's
greatest need to hear that message, and Christians will be left in
their fear and despair and hopelessness.
There will NEVER be more hate than love in the world. Never.
But Satan can turn more and more heads from seeing that. I know
many people don't like the phrase in the alternate Lord's Prayer
that says, "Save us from the time of trial," but it's a more
accurate translation of the fear people had then, and that we
SHOULD have today. They feared the time of trial where the Devil
would tempt them to believe other than what they knew to be true
and many would believe the Devil's view of the world and turn from
the Truth and God. We Christians should fear that we will be
fooled by the Devil and turn our heads from God. If we do, we will
desert God by deserting our responsibility to be the vessels, the
spokespersons through whom the message of hope is spoken.
Please. Start today. Listen to your words. Look carefully at
your attitude. Don't join in the talk of despair. Don't join in
the complaining unless you intend to do something positive as a
result. It won't be easy. You'll be surprised at how easily we
fall into negative talk. Even in how we respond to someone. Listen
to your own words about the government, about Taneytown, about
youth, about Muslims, about minorities, about any ONE or any
Just listen to the words of others, to your own words. Listen
thoughts! Are they words of HOPE? Are they words that Christ
expects you to speak on his behalf? We have been given the power,
through the Holy Spirit, to do even GREATER things than Jesus did.
Not by our own power, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Are you doing that? Are you using the power? Begin by cleaning
up your act. There isn't ONE of us here today that doesn't need to
do that. You will have to listen to your words carefully, though.
Most of you will be fooled by the Devil and not recognize that you
are adding to the hopelessness of the world rather than the HOPE
that Christ has given us to share with others through the power of
the Holy Spirit.
Accept that power today and you will see an immediate change in
your life. I mean it. Immediate. You will notice your attitude
will change. You will begin to hear when you are adding to the
worry or despair rather than the hope and promise.
God in the person of the Holy Spirit is asking you today to be
open to the power and to use it to promote hope in the world, not
add to the despair and hopelessness.
The power is there. It is yours to use. May your use of it
bless others, especially those who are feeling fearful and
helpless and hopeless, and may your use of the power also bless
you-and me. Amen.