by Nick Acker
I am the preacher.
I have set my heart toward understanding.
I have devoted my existence to discover the “good stuff” of life.
I have questioned. I have studied. I have listened. I have attempted to teach.
I have received counsel and tried to give counsel.
I have not been slack or lazy in pursuit of truth.
I have not accepted half truths or easy truths.
I refused to abandon pleasure, because there is truth in pleasure.
I refused to abandon pain, because there is truth in pain.
I have been unrelenting in seeking the meaning of life.
And this is what I have found.
It is all… every bit of it… empty.
It is a passing vapor whose form no one will remember.
Billions of us amble about clueless and careless concerning what really matters in life.
Billions of us think we know what matters and live contrary to our beliefs anyway.
The rest of us think we know what matters, try to live appropriately, and constantly fail…
And when one of us is strong where the other is weak, we shovel shame on each others’ failures standing as judge over each other.
Life is too hard. And we make it even harder.
And even if we sometimes succeed in living for what matters… suffering crouches around the corner to strike despair into our souls.
Tragedy strikes at random. It seems that at any moment chaotic tribulation will overtake us or our loved ones.
Happiness is a lottery ticket whose chances defy any logical calculation.
Rich or poor, righteous or pious… none of us are safe from the incomputable odds.
And this has been the state of humanity since we moved East of Eden.
There is nothing unique about our struggles, our toils, or our fleeting pursuits of pleasure.
It has all been done before, and we live in denial as we drudge under the sun to mark out a life for ourselves.
Life is impossible to analyze.
It is a flushed swirl of water spiraling to its end.
This is the truth. Hear it and heed it.
It is all empty.
A passing vapor whose form no one will remember.
Yet… My Lord and My God how I love the word…
Life is all empty.
A passing vapor whose form no one will remember…
There is Jesus.
Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.
They worshiped Him.
Because Jesus is God.
God stepped into the meaninglessness of life and injected it with His purpose.
Jesus lived for 30 years doing no ministry.
Working to make a living.
God is found in the cycles of life that can seem so tedious.
Jesus taught us what a true life looks like.
He taught us that authority is not found behind the barrel of a gun but behind a basin and towel… as we serve each other… washing each other’s feet… laying down our lives for each other… not out of duty or fear or shame… but out of love… for the joy set before us… we share life.
That is the purpose of life.
To share life.
To share life with God together.
It can seem that life is impossible to understand…
Jesus taught us how to live. He understood life. He taught us that the “good stuff” is within reach. Jesus knew life and taught life. He is life.
Jesus was betrayed, tortured, mocked, and brutalized.
Jesus is God.
God can be found in suffering.
God can inject meaning and purpose even into suffering.
Suffering does not snuff out life. Suffering does not push pause on the “good stuff” of life. Life can exist in the midst of suffering.
We can share life together with God even as we suffer.
Life’s sufferings seem to mock us and rob us of hope and purpose and life…
Jesus taught us that life, purpose, and hope can abide in suffering.
Hear it and heed it!
The Great Shepherd was struck down.
The great teacher, the prophet, the healer, the lover of sinners crucified and publically shamed.
This is the great tragedy of the Universe.
Nothing in eternity will ever measure up to the raw, vile, dreadful darkness of that historical event, thick and black and hopeless as Hell.
Jesus, the chosen one, the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, the Word of God who created all things… Almighty God died!!!
My Lord and My God how I love the word.
Death tries to mock us and bully us into half lived lives of fear and shame and hopelessness,
Yet Jesus lives.
And so death is dead.
Jesus is alive.
Resurrected into a new body, and ascended to the place of honor and authority at the right hand of the Father.
And He has promised to return and resurrect us into new bodies.
He has proclaimed that He will create a new heaven and a new earth, and God will make His home with us.
And life today has meaning because Jesus has baptized us with the Holy Spirit of God…
The Spirit that raised Christ from the dead.
The Spirit that can turn death into new life.
The Spirit that can turn our suffering into hope.
The Spirit that can turn our pain into glory.
The Spirit that can turn our tears into baptismal waters.
The Spirit that sends us out on Jesus’ mission to call the world of out death and into life.
The Spirit that beckons you this morning…
Turn from an empty life centered on your self…
Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.
Believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead.
Life can seem empty… hopeless…
Love and life sometimes seem like they are just too hard.
He is risen.
He is ascended.
He is returning.
October 05, 2016
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