Asbury United Methodist Church
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December 7, 2017

We’re having a tremendous Thursday, albeit perhaps a melancholy one.  Today marks the seventy-sixth anniversary of the Pearl Harbor invasion.


          I was not alive when this strategic naval base was attacked.  Even so, I suspect every single one of us is in one way or another is still living through the ripples of what FDR labeled, “A date which will live in infamy!”


          It also appears that Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto may have been more prophetic than he realized at the time when he wrote, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”


          (Evidently, this quote came from a letter within Yamamoto’s diary to the Japanese Admiralty in 1943.)


          Yep, they might have been better off letting that sleeping dog lie.  Even so, my life was changed forever by this event and I wasn’t even born yet.


          The Pearl Harbor invasion pulled my father off the farm and sent him to sea for three years…but nonetheless on a track that would lead to my mother!  And, the good news for me was that I was born.


          So, for a moment let’s change directions.  Now might be a good segue for talking about automatic doors. 


         My granddaughter Lylah is fascinated by electronic doors.  Sometimes, when I am pushing her in a stroller, I pretend that I am going to ram her directly into a set of electronic doors.  Of course, they open at the spilt second when it appears we will crash into them.


She giggles out of control!  And, that’s all the pay that I need!


The funny thing about electronic doors is that they operate by way of a form of radar that sends a signal for the doors to open when we approach them.  I suspect most of us have grown so used to these doors that we pay them little mind.


          But…here’s the deal…if we stop walking, the doors will not open.  So, we use a form of faith that we have learned over time to just keep walking…and the electronic doors magically open.


          It would sound funny to a time traveler from the 18th century that to make some doors open, we must practically walk into them.  Even from our modern points of view, it still requires a wee bit of faith!


          But, the doors will not open unless we face them and boldly proceed. Likewise, life’s darkness, struggles and challenges are not likely to go away unless we do the same.


          Again, today is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.  Today there is cause for lump-in–the-throat moments as our nation remembers. 


I scrounged around and found a photo of the USS Arizona.  The ship is still submerged, resting in the same spot where it sank on December 7, 1941. 


I have been told it still oozes oil to the surface of the water.  From a certain point of view, the ship is still bleeding from its wounds. 


From a certain point of view, we are too! 


The entire ship is a tomb. 


I cannot view this photo without feeling a great depth of sadness for such losses…of life…of innocence…of promise…and more life.


           The sight is heartbreaking, isn’t it? I cannot imagine the darkness that must have settled in on this country; and, it’s right smack dab in the Advent season!         



  Dark times came in 1941.  Dark times always come.


  Dark times will continue to come as long as the grass grows and the wind blows.  (Line from Thomas Berger’s novel, Little Big Man.)


  But here is the deal, we keep on walking!  God will open doors!


  It is of note that the Israelites faced a dead end as their nation became jammed up on the shore of the Red Sea.  There was no way to cross; and, the Egyptian soldiers were closing in.


 God said, “Keep on walking!”  They did!  The sea parted!


  Dark times will always come as long as a broken humanity walks this earth.  Dark times will never be the end of the story.


 We handle the darkness by praying for guidance!  Then we face it!

And, we keep on walking…Christ will turn on a light for that next step. 


  As Martin Luther King jr. said, “We don’t need to take the whole staircase, just that next step!”


The solutions to life’s challenges are often more spiritual than physical.  Through Christ, there is a solution to every problem; and, every problem really does come wrapped in an opportunity. 


This news is so good it that it’s hard to keep quiet about it.  It makes me want to go, tell it on the mountain!  


Jesus offered the disciples a parable that illuminated the breadth of his kingdom. 


He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.  Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches (Matthew 13:31-32 NIV).”


          Plant that seed!


          Face the darkness.


          Keep walking!


          Stick your toe in the water.


          Christ will make a way.


The Child, the Child…sleeping in the night!

          He will bring us goodness and light!



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