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Preaching Mission for the 3rd Week after Pentecost (June 9, 2024)

(A Moravian Mission Team working near Wilmington, NC. While this building cannot provide shelter in its current state, it will be home for a family in need in the future).

A Future Hope
by Bishop Chris Giesler

Assigned Texts: 2nd Corinthians 4:13-4:1 and Mark 3:20-35

Today, I am focusing on the text from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians and briefly looking at the Gospel lesson. Here, Paul gives us an excellent perspective on the hardships of life, which have been numerous for us in the past year and a half.

Think for a moment about how we use goggles that help us see more clearly underwater. Without them, everything is fuzzy, and our eyes might even burn. But with them, we see the underwater world more clearly. Paul here reassures us that God is with us through the ups and downs of life. And to help us see the God who is always ready to pick us up when we need it.

With the never-ending impacts of the pandemic, racial unrest, and political turmoil, many of us are feeling overwhelmed. Maybe some of you have to deal with a toxic person in your life who keeps showing up when you least have the time or energy to deal with them. There can always be complicated issues in the relationship between parent and child, whether it is the terrible twos or the turbulent teens.

One of the consistent themes of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians is how Jesus’s death and resurrection make a difference in our daily lives. Paul reminds us that as we move through life, we participate in this cycle of rebirth through our own suffering and carrying the burdens of others. We do this by accepting God’s forgiveness and reconciliation and by extending that to those in our lives. Broken relationships are difficult to carry, so why not allow grace to lift that burden?

This week’s Gospel lesson from Mark sheds light on the difficulties that Jesus and his family were going through. Just as Jesus’ ministry is beginning to move into full swing, there is growing sentiment that Jesus has lost his mind and is even accused of being aligned with Satan. Jesus’ mother, Mary, has come to try to take Jesus back home. Amid the tension, Jesus focuses on the eternal will of God. These relationships will be mended, and this momentary affliction will be resolved.

Paul encourages us to look to a better future when we allow reconciliation to transform our present trials and frustrations. This is what preacher and writer Rob Bell calls taking a sacred view of tomorrow.

The sacred view of tomorrow begins with realizing that today is not how things will always be. Rob Bell says that the first step is to recognize that this present moment is like a wave in the ocean that crashes down upon you. While the wave is tossing you about, things can be scary; you might even doubt that you will get out of it. However, the first step in getting through this crisis is to realize that this is only a wave and will not last. This moment in time is not all moments for all of time. This current crisis will pass; you will learn how to adjust, and you will learn how to live through this. We begin this process by taking the long view rather than only seeing what is present in this moment.

Taking deep breaths and staying calm is essential when dealing with life’s challenges, but how often do we find that when life gets most difficult, we abandon stillness and allow panic to set in? It has frequently been noted that major automobile, train, or airline accidents are not the result of one mistake but the second or third reaction made from panic or fear.

In his First Letter to the Corinthians, Paul says that in this life, we see in a dimly reflected mirror, but later, we will see God face to face (I Corinthians 13:12). Taking the sacred view of tomorrow allows us to use today’s problems as building blocks for tomorrow.  These strategies are vital for our carrying out our mission in life because, too often, we get trapped or frozen by the stresses of life, leaving us incapable of even taking care of ourselves, much less being there for others.

“All will be well”, was the clarion call with which Bishop Hopeton Clennon encouraged his loved ones during his short battle with cancer.  He knew that his affliction was a temporary one, and while those who loved him would grieve his passing, there was a better tomorrow for him and for us.  This is not to take away the present pain of separation, but it does give us hope for tomorrow that can never be taken away.