[Image: Right In Between, 2012, JA Van Devender]
Sermon Text for Today:
Mat. 5:4 - "Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted!"
There is not much to commend in the image for today other than the subject matter. It's cluttered and without any interesting patterns or color juxtapositions, but what it displays is amusing and somewhat thought provoking.
This a view from the Jim Beam Distillery grounds just south of Louisville, Ky. To the right and to the left of this little fundamentalist, tee-totalling church are the stark black (for aging purposes) warehouses in which countless kegs of whiskey are stored in towering racks several hundred feet high.
Every Sunday morning, I imagine, this little congregation gathers on this patch of land that they have stoutly resisted selling to the distillery, and there, in the face of the testimony to worldly power and sometimes debauchery that "demon rum" can bring, they meet and worship their God.
I am no tee-totaller by any stretch of the imagination but I admire this little church and I find it thought provokingly amusing to see where God has placed them.
Christian suffering which leads to Christian mourning has something in common with this. On either side of our "church" stands the worldly edifices of secular thought. Pain and misery in this world cannot be ignored. The secular world constructs two massive towers of thought about it.
The first is Stoic indifference or mystical transcendence. As far removed from each other as those two things are they unite in this: pain and misery and sufferings are to be endured and transcended. They are, in the scale of things, nothing, without meaning, This is the pathway of worldy "heroism" or Buddhist submersion in the divine. This is "ostrich head sticking in the sand" stuff.
The other massive edifice is secular utopianism, where misguided souls, motivated more by prideful over-estimation of their own capacities than anything else, believes that by just "working harder' we can fix it... we can end suffering... we can all "just get along." This is sheer foolishness.
In the middle, having their own little plot of land, accessible only by a single, narrow little driveway, stands the Christian church, with its truth about suffering and its grieving, mourning, over it. Only the redeemed, born again, super-naturally equipped and Holy Spirit inhabited, Church of Jesus Christ approaches the problem of suffering, the problem of evil with the right frame of mind - grief - and the right expected outcome - hope. Only the Christian Church knows what it means to be comforted in grief, whether ourselves or in others, and what it means to be blessed in suffering and grief.
We stand alone, between two towering, black buildings, which represent the power of worldly thinking, .... we stand... alone... and worship the God who causes ALL things to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to HIS purposes.