Lord, Use Me

3B
Jonah 3:1-5,10 / 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 / Mark 1:14-20

War must really be like hell.

Patrick McLaughlin served in the Army— (mick LOCK lin)
he served as a Lutheran military
Chaplain during the Iraq war—
he was in the Anbar Province of Iraq.

They say he’s a tall, friendly sort of guy.

And his toughest job—
his toughest job in the war, he said,
was helping care for
children who were brought into
the US military combat hospital.

And in this military hospital,
the Americans provide care for both
war combatants and civilians alike.

So when little Iraqi children were
wounded during the war—
they were brought to
the American military hospital.

And when they were wounded bad—
when there was nothing more that
doctors could do other than
give them morphine to take the pain away—

Chaplain McLaughlin would take
the children into his arms and
rock them until they died.

At first, he did this standing up.

But then he went to the military engineers
and asked them if they could
make him some rocking chairs.

And they did.

So then, Chaplain McLaughlin would take
the dying children into his arms—
and carry them over to a rocking chair—
and hold them—
and rock them in his arms
until they breathed their last.

What a wonderful story—
and what a horrific story.

We know what’s horrific in this story—
We know what’s evil in the story.

No matter what war—
no matter whether the war is justified or not—
it’s an atrocious thing.

We know that innocent children dying—
Is humanity at its worst.

And in the midst of this war—
in the midst of evil—
in the midst of darkness—
there is a ray of light—

a Christian chaplain holding and rocking an Iraqi child—
being with that child—
as it breathes its last breath— (The Christian Century Jan. 17, 2018, pg 8)
an example of humanity at its best.

An example of the Kingdom of God breaking through.

If you all of Jesus’ preaching—
If you look at all of Jesus’ teaching—
If you look at all that Jesus did—
It all revolves around this one concept—
The Kingdom of God—
“The Kingdom of God is at hand.”

It’s a new era in the history of salvation.

You know, the Biblical view of the “world”—
the biblical view of the “cosmos”
is a very interesting one.

The “world” or “cosmos” has two
quite distinct and even opposite
meanings in the Bible. (Hart, The Doors of the Sea 63-65)

At times, “world” or “cosmos”
is used as a synonym for God’s wonderful “creation.”

It signifies the incredible handiwork of God—
it describes the world as an object of God’s
redemptive care.

We get this meaning in verses like:

For God so loved the world that
he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him
might not perish but might have eternal life. (John 3:16)

And:

For God did not send his Son into the
world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:17)

But in the Bible there is another way
that “world” or cosmos” is used.

The world is a fallen world—
it’s a world full of sin and cruelty—
it’s a world full of aggression and violence and greed.

So in this context—
Jesus—the incarnate God—
comes into the “world” to rescue
the world from its fallen-ness.

Jesus is a stranger in such a world—
because Jesus’ ways are not—
for the most part—
are not the ways of the world.

We see this concept of the world
when Jesus is tempted by the
devil in the desert.

One of Satan’s temptations is for
Jesus to bow down and worship him.

And what does Satan use to lure Jesus into this?
He uses the world!! Satan says to Jesus:

“Just bow down and worship me
and I’ll give you power over the whole world’
because it’s all mine.”

Did you know that in John’s Gospel—
Satan is called “the prince of this world.” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11)

And St. Paul calls Satan “the god of this age.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

And Jesus himself says
that He is not of this world— (John 8:23)
and that we his followers should be
in the world—
but not of the world.

And Jesus tells Pilate:
“My Kingdom does not belong to this world.” (John 18:36)

And we can see—can’t we—
And we experience both of these contexts of
the world—of the cosmos.

God’s beautiful and magnificent handiwork—
Filled with grace.

But, also a fallen world—
a very fallen world.

A world of wars and rumors of wars—
A world where innocent children die.

And a world where a stranger holds and
rocks a dying child until it breathes their last breath.

A world full of sin and conflict.

And a world where the Kingdom of God that
Jesus proclaimed is breaking through.

Bishop Robert Morneau recalls a
parishioner he had named Mugsie—
Mugsie was in her 90’s.

Every morning—
the first thing Mugsie would do
was to say a prayer.

She would rise out of bed—
even in her 90’s—
and pray “Lord, use me!”

And the Lord did.

Over the years,
Mugsie and her husband took in over
40 foster children.

Can you imagine that?!?—
40 foster children!!!

Can you image her funeral.

They said that at her funeral—
it was the most amazing site to see
all of those foster children
come and pay their respects to Mugsie—
their surrogate mother.

What a difference she made in these lives.

Lord, use me!!!

In a broken world—
in a wounded world where kids—
for whatever reasons—
needed someone to love them—
there was Mugsie.

A light in the darkness—
A witness to the Kingdom of God at hand.

I want you think for just a moment
at the times where
you’ve been that light in the darkness—
where you’ve been that witness to Kingdom of God.

Just think about how fulfilling that felt.

Even though it may have been a sacrifice—
Now looking back you’re so glad you did it—
You’re so glad you made a difference.

If we look back on those times—
I bet it makes our souls smile.

Well, brothers and sisters in Christ-
My experience with God—
My experience with Jesus—
is that He is always calling me to even more.

Because there’s so much work to be done—
There’s so much wounded-ness and hurt.

Sometimes I can be like that little boy who
was working math problems at the chalkboard
and his teacher was challenging him to be better.

The challenged student turned around and
said to the teacher—
“I’m not an underachiever;
you’re just an over-expecter.”

God is an over-expecter!!!

Or like the little boy who prayed:

“Dear God, if You can’t make me a better boy,
don’t worry about it.
I’m having a real good time like I am!”

Jesus calls us all to get to work—
Be witnesses to Kingdom of God—
Be light—
There’s so much do.

Be witnesses to a world full of grace—
Full of love and mercy and forgiveness—
Looking out for each other.

Lord, use me today—
Use me in big ways and in small ways—
just use me.

It’ll make our souls smile—
And probably our faces smile too.

Holy Spirit 01/20-21/2018

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