Rev. Dr. John J. Lolla, Jr.
May 12, 2019
Text: Revelation 7:15, Acts: 9:36-43, Revelation 7:9-17
We awakened this morning to a beautiful world. Spring is in the air.
Birds are singing. Flowers are blooming. Our world is a gift. God made it, and it is good.
God crowned His creation with humanity. He made humanity in His image and it was good – like the rest of creation.
But human goodness leaves much to be desired. Humanity is not even a shadow of God’s goodness.
Humans are the weak link in the creation story. Our reaction to God’s goodness fails His purpose in creating the world.
Last Tuesday, we were reminded again of human depravity. Despite the beauty of a brilliant sunny day outside Highland Ranch, Colorado the joy of spring was darkened by evil infecting human hearts at the Stem Academy Charter School. The lust for taking innocent blood again stained America’s pride.
Tuesday it crawled out from its dismal cave. It exposed buried American memories of other beautiful, sunny days – the Boston Marathon, 911, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Atlanta Olympic bombing, Columbine, Newtown, Sandy Hook, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, RFK and JFK’s assassinations.
We like to fantasize humanity has advanced beyond the ancient world. Yet pain and suffering are humanity’s plight. Individuals and governments plan bloodshed and rationalize unjust crimes despite the outward appearance of propriety and decency. North Korea and Iran aren’t any greater terrorists than the darkness in American hearts. Sin generates terrorism.
God knows the limits of human goodness. He sent Christ to get the human race on track with His original purpose. He created humanity good. But sin has corrupted that goodness. Humans disobey their heavenly parent.
Christ didn’t come to promise the end of human sin. He came to offer hope for human sin. He was sent with the mission to transform a world of sin so God’s love unites humanity in peace.
For 2,000 years the Church has carried Jesus’ hopeful mission around the world. The Church began with the resurrection and carries the resurrection hope for people who are crying from human depravity.
The carriers of this hope began with women. Only one of the empty tomb’s discoverers was a mother – Mary the mother of James. The resurrection hope began with womens’ hearts. Their love took them to Joseph of Arimathea’s Garden to care for Jesus. Their compassion elevated the world’s hope when they began telling about Jesus’ resurrection.
Women of the Church offered what Greece failed to offer. They offered freedom from slavery, freedom from bullying, freedom from reckless abandon. They showed Jesus’ love and became angels of mercy throughout history. Mary Magdelene, Mary the mother of James, the Virgin Mary showed the world that God’s love prevails over the forces of evil and human depravity.
In the Christian woman’s voice God’s heart sang. In the Christian woman’s hands, God’s compassion was felt. In the Christian woman’s sacrifice, God’s grace was received. Women of Jesus have shown the world that peace can come on earth as it is in heaven when we point people to Jesus’ hope in the world.
Their faith in Jesus’ resurrection has inspired men to rise above the world’s conflicts and be witnesses to Jesus Christ.
Despair has turned beautiful days of God’s creation into the most hideous denial of human goodness. It has repudiated God’s love. Stem Academy Charter School is just another example of how human despair has soiled the ground with human love.
Humanity’s story is darkened by the blood-stained soil of failing God.
It’s easy to give up on hope. We have plenty of examples in our lifetimes to give up on God’s hope. Yet women, faithful women, never give up on hope. They are the well-spring of life’s renewal because they can see an Easter rainbow on the other side of despair’s black cloud.
Their resurrection hope transforms the world. Where there is a mother sacrificing her life for her children there are children knowing the hope of God’s love. Where there is a mother who teaches her son about Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, there is a mother teaching her children not to be afraid of self-sacrifice.
God will vindicate the sacrificial child with eternal life.
I am sure a mother taught her son to sacrifice his life to save his friends at Stem Academy. Kendrick Castillo’s mother Maria showed her son how to sacrifice his life without fear. She had devoted her life to him and had encouraged him to be loving and kind – a role model for his friends and community.
She had seen that he went to church and he learned the story of God’s kingdom of heaven there. He was convinced the resurrection promised that God has a better world beyond this world. He need not be afraid of death. He would take on anyone who threatened his friends.
A mother’s courage to have her son learn about Jesus became a son’s courage to show his friends that God’s love overcomes death. Maria gave the gift of hope in her love to Kendrick that he gave to his friends in his death.
This is what Christian mothers do with their devotion to Jesus. They sacrifice their personal ambitions for what Christ means to redeem the world. They live in the world. But their devotion to Jesus and the hope of the resurrection is not of the world. They know humanity’s opposition to God’s purpose in creation will explode in blood shed.
They know that dark hidden forces oppose Christ’s work of uniting the
world in peace. They give on earth a glimpse in motherhood what heaven will look like when we get there.
Chapter 7 of the Book of Revelation depicts the world God intended in creation. This is the world of God’s throne room. In God’s throne room people from various nations and tribes are gathered by the Lamb of God. Here is where people torn apart by bloodshed on earth are restored and united with people from all the nations who have suffered injustice.
Around God’s throne differences of opinion have ended about who God is, what God intends, and how God’s work is done. At God’s throne people no longer fight over religion or politics. They don’t bully each other over who is the best or the brightest. They’re not divided by cliques, passions, popularity, class, or race. Political correctness doesn’t divide them. Status doesn’t make one better than the other.
In the Lamb of God’s Kingdom of unity, there’s no FBI, no Homeland Security, no police, no SWAT teams, or national guard. They aren’t needed to keep the peace because there are no clandestine dissenters to God’s Kingdom. There are no critics to conflict with God’s love and mercy.
They are there not because they are gifted and talented. They are there not because their parents can afford charter education.
They aren’t part of God’s Kingdom because they aspire to compete with the brightest and the best around the world for career opportunities and palatial estates.
God’s Kingdom lacks monuments built to honor the sacred ground where lives are lost to injustice. The Kingdom of Heaven is not stained by innocent blood.
There is only one throne surrounded by young and old from around the world who knew what it meant to hope for eternal life, and who lived lives of sacrifice because of their commitment to the holy cause of God’s creation. They’re united by courage, love, and peace, singing praises to the Lamb of God.
What will it take for children on earth to unite in celebration for God who created them all and loves them equally? What will it take for children on earth to surround God’s throne with united voices singing His praise?
It will take mothers who teach their children that the answer to their difficulties in life are not resolved with guns. It will take mothers on earth who teach their children to imitate Christ. It will take mothers on earth who are willing to cry tears of loss when their son or daughter sacrifices their life to save others.
No one in heaven considers planting an explosive device to threaten the peace of God’s kingdom. No one smuggles into the Kingdom of Heaven an automatic weapon to slaughter the innocent. The whole Kingdom sings in God’s throne room. Every voice is devoted to celebrating the victory of the world’s Savior over sin on earth.
Revelation Chapter 7 is not a vision of life on earth. Yes, we do catch glimpses of Chapter 7 here and there on earth. But its vision is not sustainable by humans in this world. Chapter 7 describes the Kingdom of Heaven.
The world in which we currently live, however beautiful it is, is the world of the grave. But where there are mothers who see God’s hope, and teach their children to embrace the vision, there are children of hope who are not afraid.
Revelation describes life on earth in Chapter 6. The world of the grave is where men and women, parents and children, families and communities are threatened by terrorism, divided by conflict, and justify vengeance to right wrongs. On earth Christ’s mission of hope competes with apocalyptic forces of war, famine, and death – three of the Four Horsemen from Revelation 6.
Hope on earth is defied by forces that oppose the Lamb. They darken sunny days.
But mothers of hope show their children how to embrace life’s journey on earth with all its dangers unafraid. They are devoted to God’s saving work in Jesus Christ that they willingly, willfully, and completely teach their children to sacrifice their lives for the Lamb of God who sacrificed His life for them.
God created a beautiful world for us to inhabit. But we must journey through the wreckage and tears that human depravity leaves in its wake. The journey is perilous. It’s not always good. It’s filled with danger. It’s a journey through apocalyptic times.
But we’re not alone in the trek. Our mothers are with us showing us the way to the Kingdom of Heaven they see in Jesus Christ’s resurrection. They’re guiding us with perseverance that isn’t deterred by tears.
Those who keep their eyes on Christ and His resurrection are not distracted by the darkness about us in this world! They are Christ’s throne workers on earth. Thank you for your devotion to the Lamb and His throne room.