In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father, and from our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
The sermon text for this Sunday, is taken from the Psalm appointed for the day – Psalm 125…
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. 2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore. 3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous stretch out their hands to do wrong. 4 Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts! 5 But those who turn aside to their crooked ways the Lord will lead away with evildoers! Peace be upon Israel!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We say the word surrounded and probably don’t think much about the meaning. When we are gathered together for a birthday or Thanksgiving or CHRISTmas we say that we are surrounded by family.
When we go on a trip to the Grand Canyon or the Rockies or my favorite – the Black Hills of South Dakota – we say that we are surrounded by beauty.
Driving down Brill the other night there were police cars on Sumner on Brill on Troy and in the Country Club apartments – no doubt trying to surround the area to catch a criminal.
The problem with these three scenarios? They are flawed.
With the family at CHRISTmas there is always someone missing – whether they are out of town or have died and gone to Heaven – we are not completely surrounded.
With the Black Hills there is more than beauty surrounding us. There is also death and decay and pollution – very unbeautiful aspects.
With the dragnet thrown over the neighborhood around Country Club apartments – there’s a good chance the criminal got away.
So although we know what we mean when we say that we are surrounded by something – we truly don’t know the meaning of the word. Or do we?
Take a look at the internet these days and it isn’t uncommon that we see horrific pictures of our brothers and sisters in Christ in the middles east surrounded by evil. Crucifixions, beheadings, rape and torcher seemingly surround these believers in Jesus every day.
Although we may not have that extreme in our lives here in the “the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave,” we are still surrounded by evil – right? Abortion – rape – fights – to say nothing of the murder rate in our city these days.
But it’s even finer than that isn’t it? Ever been tempted to gossip about someone? Tempted to say unkind, untruthful things about someone? Tempted to take something – no matter how small or insignificant? Tempted to not come to church – pray – read your Bible – love the LORD your GOD with all that you have, as well as your neighbor? Cheat on your wife? Disrespect your parents? Take the LORD’S name in vain – repeatedly? Any of that sound familiar to you? It should – because believe or not – it is you and it is me.
Surrounded? By evil? Sure sounds like it.
Then we read our text today and we hear from the LORD the true understanding of what it means to be surrounded. The psalmist writes…
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people,
from this time forth and forevermore.
3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest
on the land allotted to the righteous,
But do we trust in the LORD? At first blush it would seem no. But then we remember those things we were taught in Lutheran grade school or Sunday school or Lutheran High School or Bible class or from this pulpit and we remember – Jesus Christ and His Cross.
We remember that His blood shed on that Cross is what sets us free – what brings us peace – what shows the perfect and pure love GOD has for us – FOR ME!!! And that love – that perfect, pure undeserved, endless love surrounds us! In that bloody and awful Cross is the love of GOD for you!
And as the Psalmist writes about the reward for the good and upright in heart – please understand – that it is not about what we have done. No – that only brings the tainted works of our good intentions and evil deeds. No – our goodness and uprightness comes not from within, but from without. Not from me, but from Him – Jesus Christ and His work on the Cross.
Although we don’t always feel surrounded by that love – we are. I don’t feel the earth moving – but it is. It keeps spinning day and night, day and night, day and night. I don’t feel it – but it spins and spins and spins.
The love of GOD surrounds us even when it doesn’t always feel like it. We’ve all had loved ones die – young or old – it hurts. But we have hope don’t we? We have faith. We have the promise of the LORD to never leave us nor forsake us. Yes, we live in a sin-filled world, but not forever. No – we go to Heaven, that’s where my Dad is and your daughter and your husband and your son and your wife. They are with the LORD because they believed. Through the power of the Holy Spirit they were able to call Jesus LORD and because of that faith worked in them by GOD – there is hope. There is a new day. And as the Psalmist writes at the end of our text there is peace.
Are we surrounded by evil? No – we are surrounded by the LORD.
I feel like Linus on the stage in A Charlie Brown CHRISTmas when he recites Luke 2 and the birth of Jesus and at the end says, “That’s what CHRISTmas is all about Charlie Brown.”
That’s what being surrounded by the love and hope and peace of the LORD is all about. Amen.
The Peace of the LORD – which surpasses all understanding – will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus the Light of the world. Amen.