Defying the Odds
Bible Reading: Matthew 2:13-23
Bible Reading: Isaiah 63:7-9
Bernice Quinn said...
I have been listening to some of the debates around Christmas. Should we have it. Is it offensive. Should we not have Christmas decorations, is it over commercialized!
But I believe it is time we as "believers in a better world" stood up and showed the world what the community of faith is all about! I believe we should celebrate this season with great celebration and passion and with the joy of Christ's coming and the extravagance of giving to others, and that our worship should be full and rich.
Have you ever tried to do just enough and not your best. How do you feel when that happens, a bit cheated, ashamed, frustrated - it is not a good feeling. But when you have done your best have you ever noticed that the result doesn't actually matter you just feel great! It is in this state of mind and action that we are able to do the impossible ? to defy the odds.
The world may shout at us that it is okay to be average but Christ's message is for us to live beyond the "Z" and defy the odds ? to live sacrificially and passionately in all areas of our life, to live in the world and believe it can be a better place.
I have just finished reading the wonderful story of Heather Swann . A working mums experience of defying the odds. Why did this office worker and mum of 4 children living a comfortable life, battle snow, ice, avalanches, horrendous injury, engage in the most extreme sports - overcome incredible fear and self doubt to base jump off one of the highest mountains in the world - great Trango Tower in Pakistan. Heather said this jump is a metaphor for jumping into life. It proves that whatever you put your mind to if the dream is big enough ? you can defy the odds and do it.
In the Gospel reading today...
1 King Herod was one of the best builders in Rome and one of the cruelest kings Rome has ever seem. He killed many of his wives and family members and 100s of others in a quest to be one of the most powerful Roman Kings in history. He was a self obsessed person and through his life we can see the extremes that selfishness will go. Self was both his power and his downfall. When 3 wise men came from a far away land and enquired "where is the one who has been born King of the Jews' Herod was secretly outraged! No one was going to be a more powerful person than him. He went straight to the source of Jewish religious information - the priests and scribes and asked "where is the Christ to be born."
He believed the scriptures but his motive and personal mission was in complete variance to Gods. Later hearing that the Kings had tricked him and returned home by a different road, he ordered the death of every baby boy 2years and under in Bethlehem and the adjoining areas. And so fulfilled the words of (Jer 31:15 "A voice was heard in Ramah of painful crying and deep sadness: Rachel crying for her children. She refused to be comforted, because her children are dead."
What can we learn from this King?
Did he Defying the odds? He sure did! Does this sort of killing still happen in Australia? It sure does. It means we should not only be informed but be actively rebelling against the crimes committed against children. Did you know that in Australia a child is stabbed to death every fortnight. We are part of the genocide of neglect while we ignore the crys for help or allow children to die all around the world in poverty. Child abuse has not declined! Abuse in the workplace still happens! Illustration from TV this week.
And we still hear comments like, "people have to accept that these things happen and make better choices about where they work." Why? Why should people be forced out a job because they speak up about abuse in the workplace. If we are going to defy the odds in 2005 we have to commit to our task and make a difference in the world. We can do this if we are willing to take our eyes of our self.
Did Heather Swan know about commitment. Not in the beginning and her lack of focus and trust in herself almost lost her her life. Her commitment changed when one day she looked at the great mountain and was awe struck by its majesty and beauty. In her heart she made a decision to climb. She gave up doing the climb for her husband and coach she had a personal passion and commitment now to defy the odds.
There are things that happened to us in 2004 that we need to leave in this year. Attitudes, hurts, failures unmet goals, lack of passion. The oil signifying God's healing presence and is there for us. We can deny self its right to rule supreme in our life and actively turn it around giving to others and making the world a better place.
2 The Wisemen from the East told a different story. How incredible is their story of self denial. They were astrologers from a distant country. That had been on a camel train for approximately 2 years, following a new star that had appeared in the sky. Their mission was to seek and find and worship the new king. They had no idea where they were going.They crossed cultures and beliefs, there were people who encouraged them and those that thought they were mad? but they focused on their task, angels were watching over them and defying the odds of physical and mental hardships they were led with great joy to where the baby lay. They bowed down in reverence, they worshipped with great joy and they gave their gifts - willingly with glad hearts.
Do you feel led .. have you felt awestruck in the presence of God - does worship fill your heart with joy. These are the gifts of God to the people of God.
We hold in Gods presence those of this congregation who have left us for awhile to follow their star. For Peter in Antartica, Carol in Canberra, the Slatterys and Steve Fox in PNG, for Walsa and the boys here in Canberra - for Peter & Kirsten in Naru we give you thanks.
What is the star that God has asked you to follow?
Are you prepared to take this journey of faith - will you pray about it. Can you look past the obstacles and see the beauty of the mountain that God has called you to conquer. Are you willing to bow in his presence, worship him with joy and give him the gift he asks of you. Defying all odds in 2005 will you follow his star?
If ever there was a story about defying the odds it was in the life of Christ.
3 Jesus King of the Jews
We have a lot of new babies arriving in our congregation these days - have you realized that. On Christmas eve I took my little granddaughter to see the donkey at the end of the street. He is small and grey and very cute and I could never imagine using him as a form of transport - especially to a far away place and pregnant!
Although we could suggest this as a way to helping our mums in waiting?
Or what about the delivery suite with all its mod cons - hygiene and postnatal care. A dirty old barn - feeding trough! What about the escape to Egypt in the middle of the night. ? and then a refugee in a country not your own. What lengths did Joseph go to protect his loved ones. And can you imagine the families delight when they eventually returned to Nazareth. It was in the safety of this new place that Jesus grew up and commenced his earthly ministry.
Defying the odds -- Christ sure did.
"Will you come and follow me if I but call your name."
Feeling divinely led is a spiritually fulfilling place to be in our lives. Knowing the covering of God. It takes away the fear the disappointments of life and allows us to go places and do things far beyond our human abilities.
Heather Swan reached her mountain and after lugging cargo up and down cliff faces for days on end and thoroughly exhausted she was unable to make her jump due to the weather conditions.
She was defeated, exhausted and unfulfilled. Did she sit with the "poor me's" - yes for 6 weeks then she took to the mountain again and again the weather and September 11 meant they had to return home. But she accomplished her dream. She had overcome fear and had changed in all areas of her life. She knew that she could do anything she put her mind to. She had conquered herself.
The knowledge that the anointing of God is upon us and the light of his presence is there to guide us has helped many people to overcome amazing obstacles, and in particular those parts of our personality that need to be touched by the hand of God.
We need people everywhere touching the lives of others. People committed to making a difference, people who will hear the call of God and bring blessing and peace to our world.
I wish I could tell you the many stories of people over this last week who felt the call of God on their life and responded appropriately.
King Herod reminds us that there is healing for selfishness or any dis ease that disturbs our spirit. The 3 Kings encourage us to be a people of self denial - to follow our star- to worship with joy- give generously and with gladness. Jesus King of the Jews reminds us that there will be obstacles along the way but angels will be watching over us.
Our challenge is to close the door on 2004 and
Defy the odds in your life in this new year of 2005.