Sermon from March Evensong

Holy Cross with Spring flowers

Psalm 46 – Trusting God in Testing Times

The psalm for today says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Yet in such a turbulent world when everything seems to be in crisis, we might be forgiven for actually wondering where God is and thinking that He has abandoned us today. The earth cries out in pain and longs to be healed and loved, yet continues to suffer. War still rages in many countries, like Syria, where nearly 50, 000 people have been killed and in Iraq and Afghanistan ,which have seen over 23,000 killed; 815 million go hungry each year; more than 150 million people are homeless. Global warming is ruining our planet, with fires raging across Australia, and in this country some of the worst floods have been experienced in decades. And now, amidst all this, we have the greatest illness of our time sweeping across the world – the Corona virus, with many countries going into complete lockdown.

We live in very challenging times. So much suffering, which prompts people to ask: ‘How can we have a loving God? Does He even exist?’ and how can we even acknowledge that, as the psalmist says in verse 1, “He is our refuge and strength.”

But God’s message is loud and clear, stop being fearful. Even though the present world is shaken with the nations raging and the kingdoms of men tottering, we are told not to fear because God is in control of His world.

It’s easy to be fearful when things aren’t going well, or when we are faced with challenges and conflict, but in the midst of our struggles God tells us to wake up and recognise whose side He is on and to trust Him. And that’s what we as Christians have to do – hope and trust; we must give up trusting ourselves and let God take control, for it is then we will find peace and not fear.

But that does not mean giving up on each other; we must remain close to each other in our community. When Christ encounters community in the Gospels, His presence and relationship with others has the most impact, makes a difference. We should follow His example.

In these times of troubles communities are being challenged to think about how they relate to each other. We might be forgiven at present in thinking people are only out for themselves when we see empty shelves in the supermarkets, but that is as a result of fear and panic. No-one knows how the next few weeks or months will unfold, but as in times of turbulence, war and disaster they provide us with an opportunity to reach out to each other, to our neighbours and to think about the way we understand and connect with each other.

Perhaps there may be people within our own community who are anxious or uncertain about how the next few weeks will unfold, particularly among those who are in the most vulnerable groups. At times like these we have an opportunity to make sure that we do all we can to build community, to stay in contact, to keep relationships fruitful and to help us all feel that we belong together.

Now is the time for us to be thinking and praying about what we can do to play our part in sustaining and building community as we look ahead to the immediate challenges we face together. The church faces the challenge of how it functions in difficult and uncertain times but it is at times like these that communities grow in understanding and faith, as scripture reveals.

Whatever the coming days hold for us, and whatever the particular challenges we face, prayer is important. Finding time to listen to and pray to God and be in His presence. In these worrying times it is so easy to distance ourselves from God but when we keep Him close, come into His presence in prayer, worship and praise, learn to be still before Him and hear Him whisper, “Be still, and know that I am God”, it has a way of bringing peace and calm to our troubled souls no matter what is going on around us.

So today let’s be still in God’s presence. Let us pray that we may draw strength as we recognise that Christ is present within our community and let us work together to share the love we know in Christ and offer hope to all who face uncertainty in our world.

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