Lectionary Year A
April 21, 2002
1 Peter 2:19-25

Step VI: Contemporary Address


This last Sunday in April is my last Sunday to preach where I have served a two year part time Interim. These people have grown through a right unpleasant, even, for some, painful decision to dissolve a pastoral relationship with a dear pastor of seven years admittedly because they could no longer afford to support him and his family properly. This congregation, younger than most, age-wise, and with many children and youth, has potential aplenty. Presbytery recognizes that the population is mushrooming just across the county line from the State Capital. Presbytery is committed to help them redevelop. They need encouragement and support as they face yet another change in their history. A Designated Pastor is on the way to lead them through the redevelopment. They are committed to redevelop. Now they need to focus on their future and God's leading them into it. This sermon refuses to forget the past while it centers on God and the future as it develops under God's guidance.


One hopes, as 1 Peter gives us motivation so to do, to re-anchor the people in their past, move them through God's past in Jesus Christ, and aim them into a very promising future God is ready to lead them into making for themselves and their offspring.


"Suffering Happens"

Everyone suffers, our forebears, pioneering across the country establishing a new world. The Kosovars at the hands of the Serbs even as we speak. You and I suffer, relatively little, yet we do suffer with hardships raising children and caring for aging parents, etc. Suffering happens. It is a way of life. It always has been. We can endure suffering and pain and we can survive it and grow through it if, IF, IF we can get it into and keep it in proper perspective. How do we do that?

I. Increase Our Awareness of God
1 Peter 2:19-25 can increase our awareness of God. It speaks to our conscience. It calls us to a renewed consciousness of God. It wants us to utilize our faculty of moral consciousness to enlarge our perceptions of God. It leads us to augment our data bank that informs us of God and of God's will. God's will allows us to suffer. When we suffer knowing, or at least believing God knows we do and is allowing us to hurt, we can begin to appreciate God's role in even our aches and agonies, distress and discomforts. God was there in the wilderness with Moses and the tribes of ancient Israel. God accompanied the judges on their missions and the prophets through their responsibilities. Etc., etc.

II. Recall the Christ Event
God also gets involved in our suffering. The epitome of God's involvement in our pain came in the Spring of about 28 CE. In Jesus' passion and death, God experienced human suffering's extreme. Jesus endured the cross for us, in our stead and on our behalf. His suffering alleviates our suffering for and by the guilt of our sinning. He did it when we deserve it. He neither deserved it nor retaliated as a result of it.

II. Respond by Returning
1 Peter thinks we who have wandered, by now have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls. Here, again, 1 Peter pictures an accepting God. Today's passage assures us that we, who have been freed from our sinfulness, can now go on living for righteousness. Some of the next paragraphs in 1 Peter can give us ideas of how most faithfully to do that.

Our calling calls us to follow the example Jesus left us here on earth. Let us go and do so.

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