11/16/03, Veterans Day, P23B

“Wars and Rumors”
Mark 13: 1-8

oday we observe Veterans Day, perhaps a week late. Some honored veterans last Sunday, before the eleventh day of the eleventh month. However, it can be observed the Sunday after; and anyway, we were celebrating our great pledge campaign victory last week. That is, we received more in first Sunday pledges than we have in recent years, but we are assuming that those who have been pledging will get theirs in; but, we feel great about it.

Also, the Gospel text for this Sunday lends itself more to veteran’s affairs. After leaving the Temple area in Jerusalem where He had praised the widow who gave all she had to the treasury (100%) Jesus was asked when the end of the world would take place. Jesus basically told them not to worry about it, because people will be totally surprised and nobody will see it coming. “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come.” (Mark 13: 7, NRSV)

Baby boomers were reared under the dark cloud of annihilation by an atomic war. I recall one particular surprise “Bomb Drill,” (we called them ‘Bumb Drills) when our homeroom class had to march out onto the football field and lay down on the wet grass. I don’t know why they thought that wet grass would protect us, but it must have because we all survived.

Bobby Bulla was with me in the grass that day and he did not survive but a few years because he gave his life for his country in Vietnam. While I was back in Asheboro a few weeks ago I visited Bobby’s grave. In Washington I traced his name off the Vietnam War Memorial Wall. He is my hero.

We lived our childhood in fear that the Big Bum would explode any second, without warning. There were constant “Rumors of War.” I remember one movie that depicted the Communists attacking America and how those who survived the initial blast were turned into monkeys by the radiation after glow.

And the fear goes on. Out to see a love story on our wedding anniversary we were subjected to a contemporary annihilation movie preview, same theme but much more scary computerized graphics. The movie section advertisement calls it. “Remarkable, ‘The Matrix Revolutions,’ is a mesmerizing conclusion to the best trilogy in cinematic history.” The rumors of wars are still flying around. What is wrong with us that we will buy tickets to be scared?

Then there are more real fears from science. Storms on the Sun knocked out our cable TV last week for a few minutes. Upsetting color images of the Sun exploding in the newspapers last week. Occasional stories run in magazines about unseen asteroids that we might not see coming. Rumors abound and folks seem to enjoy them.

There are enough real things to be vigilant about. Life in skyscrapers will never be the same. And how many of our young soldiers will have to die in Afghanistan and Iraq? Should we still be opening our mail in masks and rubber gloves?

And what does Jesus say? Not to worry about it, because humanity will be totally surprised and nobody will see it coming. “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come.” (Mark 13: 7, NRSV) Do not be alarmed. That’s it. Vigilance is a good thing, but not unrealistic psychotic fear. There are real dangers of peril and sword, but we cannot live in fear and live well too.

Jesus seems to be saying for us not be overly alarmed by all the constant rumors of war, disease and suicide bombers blowing buildings and buses. Keep driving the kids to scouts. Go about your lives in the usual manner. Keep a stiff upper lip. But how is that possible in a world with more threats to our safety than ever before?

I’ll tell you how I have worked it out, I keep looking around, but I keep looking up!

Mother kept a little plaque on her wall that read, “Keep Looking Up.” I now have that plaque in my desk next to my nameplate. I have looked at that simple line so often that it has been hard wired into my soul.

Keep Looking Up, expectant for a better world at peace and in prosperity for all. Keep Looking Up, for the return of the Lord who will ultimately carry us to our home in Glory. We are safe in the arms of Jesus! That’s it. If we can live with that inner assurance we can live happily.

And where do we get this looking up attitude? We get it from the source of course. It is a gift of His Holy Spirit and byproduct of grace that is ours for the asking. It is not dependant upon our personality or ability; it is a gift from God.

When we look up things begin to go up. If more of us would keep looking up, irregardless of the threats, dangers or bleak predictions from others, things would begin to go up. How can life look bad through eyes that see the Glory of the Lord?

During the hard times of World War II men in foxholes would write the words on the palms of their hands, and on letters home. Not all of them made it home to safety, but in Christ they all made it home to Glory. The hope of Glory quiets the unsettling rumors that threaten to indo us. Looking up we begin to catch glimpses of Glory.

Charles Wesley said it best: “Jesus! the name that charms our fears, that bids our sorrows cease; ‘tis music in the sinner’s ears, ‘tis life, and health, and peace.”

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor
11/16/03, Veterans Day, P23B