In broad daylight. 9:30 am on a busy street. In the midst of traffic. 5 minutes from where I live. A gun man shot and killed a man in an SUV and then ran away. People saw what happened, but could do nothing to help even though, as the news reported, the police came within minutes. I cannot begin to imagine the terror of those who were in the line of traffic behind this SUV.
And that is the third such incident in recent times. Lord have mercy. God have mercy. The incident has been with me all week. How did we get there?
And the Lord who answers prayers and questions formed deep in the heart, spoke to me in a sermon that I was privileged preach this morning at my church. One of the passages of scripture which features was from Psalm 146:
" Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortal men who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea and everything in in them-
the Lord who is faithful forever.'
Psalm 146 3-NIV
As I write, the sovereign government of Jamaica, is being held hostage to the awesome and frightening power that a well known strong arm man, a Don, commands in his community. As the sovereign government of the USA, from all reports, has requested his extradition to face charges of gun running and trafficking of ganja in the USA. And so far not a word from this sovereign government of Jamaica, despite mounting calls in the media for a response. The reality, as was published in the newspapers, is that many people, in both high and low places have placed their faith in this man to keep order in the community, with little regard to the way in which this " order" is kept. Many look to him for support for children and themselves. Many more live in absolute fear of their lives and keep quiet. And this scenario is replicated across the length and breath of my country, in both uptown and down town areas, both rural and urban , as a significant section of the population has turned its backs of the God of Jacob, the maker of heaven and earth. The consequences of which are manifest in this potentially explosive situation.
So what will happen if and when this " community leader" is whisked away to the USA, and " that very day his plans come to nothing"? Will there be mayhem on the streets? Can it get any worse than what obtains now? Will people learn any lessons from this incident, or will they just turn to another " strong arm man"? Only God knows!
Another passage of Scripture which featured in the sermon today was a response of a crowd to the miraculous healing by Jesus, of a deaf and almost mute man:
" He has done everything well", they said. " He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."
Mark 8:37 NIV
This is the hope that we who are children of God, and Baptized Christians hold on to in this madness. That because we serve a God who " does all things well", despite the doubters and the cynics, we who walk not by sight but by faith, look to the day when, in response the prayers of the faithful and the obedience of His children in continuing to spread the gospel and engaging in acts of good works, God will act and rescue this nation. In the same way that the children of Israel cried our year after year, and then one day God, through Moses acted. And so we sang today , in the midst of the sermon:
How great is our God! How great is His name.
How great is our God! Forever the same
He rolled back the waters - of the mighty Red Sea.
And he said, I'll never leave you, put your trust in me.
During the week also I came across a meditation which speaks to the joy, passion and determination to share the good news that any Christian ought to possess. The point here is that
unless we who are baptized, and filled with the Spirit and power of the God of Jacob, go forth and spread the good news that Jesus has, and continues, "to do all things well" , beginning with His mighty act of salvation on the Cross of Calvary, Jamaica will never escape from the grip of madness that currently obtains - as so many have placed their trust in princes, mere mortals who cannot save.
QUICKENING GRACE MARTIN LUTHER
verse Zechariah 12:10
When a Christian begins to know Christ as his Lord and Saviour, through whom he is redeemed from death and brought into kingdom and inheritance, his heart is aglow with the flaming love of God and he would gladly help everyone to the same experience. For he knows no greater joy than that he possesses this treasure, that he knows Christ. Therefore he goes out and teaches and exhorts other people, praising and testifying to it before all men, praying and yearning that they might attain to such grace. That is a restless spirit enjoying the highest rest in the rest and peace of god, for it cannot be idle, but is always striving with all its power to spread the honor and glory of God among the people, that others too may receive this Spirit of grace and may then help with the work of prayer. For where the Spirit of grace is, he quickens our hearts, so that we can, and may, and must pray.
I pray God, that all is who read this meditation may experience this Quickening Grace of God, so that wherever in the world you are , the church may be renewed to the glory of God. Can you imagine what would take place if all Christians were to have this passion.
Finally another meditation, which I rediscovered tonight, as I searched for the one above. This one speaks to the sense of helplessness which our leaders, especially our political leaders, ought feel in the wake of the enormous social, economic, political and moral challenges that we face as a country, and as a world. As only then will they turn to the God of Jacob, who in Christ, does all things well, and not look to princes, mere mortals, who when they die or go to prison, that very day their plans come to nothing.
PETER MARSHALL - WHO FOR MANY YEARS WAS THE CHAPLAIN OF THE CONGRESS OF THE USA.
FOR GOD'S GRACE IN OUR HELPLESSNESS
Verse Judges 7:2 ( " The Lord said to Gideon, " You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her.......)
We know, our Father, that at this desperate hour in world ( Jamaican), affairs we need thee. We need thy strength, thy guidance thy wisdom.
There are problems far greater than any wisdom of man can solve. What shall our leaders do in such an hour?
May thy wisdom and power come upon the President and Congress of these United States ( Jamaica), the Senators and Congressmen, to whom have been entrusted leadership. may the responsibility lie heavily on their hearts, until they are ready to acknowledge their helplessness and turn to thee. Give to them the honesty, the courage, and the moral integrity to confess that they do not know what to do. Only then can they lead a nation beyond human wisdom to thee, who alone hast the answer.
Lead us to this high adventure. Remind us that a " mighty fortress is our God" - not a hiding place where we can escape for an easy life, but rather an arsenal of courage and strength - the mightiest of all, who will march beside us into the battle of righteousness and world brotherhood.
O our God, may never recover from our feeling of helplessness and our need of thee! In the strong name of Jesus, our Lord, we pray. Amen.
Tears came to my eyes, as I read and wrote the last sentence ...in the strong name of Jesus.
May we all then be filled with the Quickening Grace to repent and then to be baptized and then to spread the good news that Christ does all things well, to a nation and a world, in dire distress. May we all experience a sense of helplessness in the face of the madness in our respective countries, and so turn to the God of Jacob, the mighty fortress, and away from princes, community leaders, talk show hosts, and sundry other would be " saviours", who wield enormous influence over our people, but who cannot save.
May we all realize, that only when we are in Christ, can we do anything good. As flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom of God, so too mere man cannot provide any sustained peace and justice in any country. But the maker of heaven and earth - and all that is in it can. So may we all respond to the invitation issued at the end of the sermon today:
Into my heart. Into my heart. Come into my heart Lord Jesus. Come in today, come in to stay; come into my heart Lord Jesus