Peace at X-Mess
I read a story getting ready for today’s sermon that told about a little girl during the Christmas Season. It seems that her mother was so busy scheduling parties and get-togethers with family and friends that she was constantly on edge. Her dad was so busy putting up the outside lights and decorating the yard for Christmas that he was a little grumpy.
In fact the tension around the house was so thick that they were constantly telling the little girl that she was in the way, and that she needed to go on and let them get this important stuff done. Instead of this being a happy time of the year, it was very stressful and lonely in her home. So that night as she said her prayers before she went to bed she prayed that God would forgive us our Christmases as we forgive those who Christmas against us.
During this Christmas Season we have tried to take an honest look at the stress, loneliness, and frustration that so many of us battle during this season but we just don’t talk about. For many of us Christmas feels a lot more mess than peace on earth and good will towards man. I wanted us to be honest about the frustration so that you might feel a little better knowing that you are not the only one dealing with a mess during this season.
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas day with your family, I hope that you were able to sit around the tree and read the Night Before Christmas or hopefully the other Christmas Story from the book Luke with your family and then everyone drifted off to sleep on Christmas Eve. I hope that Christmas morning was a time of laughter and presents. I hope that you got plenty of gifts of love instead of the coal you deserved.
We had a wonderful Christmas morning at our house. It was full of presents, and family, and all the things you would hope for, but it was still a long way from a Norman Rockwell painting. Everything wasn’t perfect. Everything wasn’t peaceful. There was a lot of driving back and forth to Basketball games and eating fast-food but I really believe that these are the best days of our lives.
I am not downplaying the reality of the pain and the stress of this season, I just believe that the whole reason that you are here this morning is that you desperately need to celebrate the one who can bring peace in the midst of our mess.
I want you to look with me at a unique text for an after Christmas sermon. It is found in the book of Mark, a gospel that doesn’t even reference the Birth of Christ, but gives us hope in the midst of our mess. Look at Mark 4:35-41. (Read Text)
Our text is so important to us that are struggling to find peace in the midst of our mess. You see Jesus has always been able to bring peace to the storms of our life. This is a beautiful story of Jesus doing what only the Messiah can do. It is what Jesus offers to each and everyone of us, Jesus offered to be with us in the midst of our mess and bring peace on earth and goodwill toward man. And just like the physical storm in our text, Jesus can bring a great calm to your life as well.
We are all looking for a little of that peace today. One of the things I love so much about the text that was read for us this morning from the prophet Isaiah is that Jesus is called the “Prince of Peace”. The prophet knew that Jesus can bring peace to every aspect of our lives if we will allow Him to.
During this time of the year we all expect to find feelings of peace, tranquility, and calmness. But as we have noticed and admitted several times over the past few weeks that many times during this time of the year we feel like one of the apostles riding out these waves. I find hope in the fact that in very much the same way that Jesus desired for the Apostles to trust Him and find peace, He wants us to trust Him and find the peace He offers.
But just knowing about Jesus will not bring the peace that we so desperately need in this life. We must know Him and allow Him to fully know us as well. Knowing Jesus means that you have fallen in love with Him, you have a desire to spend time with Him and with His bride the church. It is understanding that Jesus came into this world as a baby and grew up to be our Savior.
I can’t believe that I am asking this but how many of you have ever seen the movie "Talladega Nights" with Will Farrell? It's not a movie I would sit down and watch with my grandparents, or parents, or even the boys, but I have seen it once.
If you have not seen it, that’s ok. It's about this race car driver named Rickey Bobbie who is not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. Surprisingly in the midst of the movie there is a theological moment that happens when they gather together and Rickey Bobbie prays. In our day it's kind of unusual for you to be watching a Hollywood movie and to see a prayer. It's even more unusual when it's a prayer in Jesus' name. Well let me just show you what I am talking about (Play Clip)
I would guess that the last thing you thought you would see in worship this morning was a clip from a Will Ferrell movie. But stay with me for a minute. I wanted you to hear what Ricky said about praying. He says "I like the Christmas Jesus best and I’m saying grace. When you say grace you can say it to grown up Jesus, or teenage Jesus, or whoever you want. I like the baby version the best."
I really think that a lot of people are like Ricky Bobby. They like the tiny baby Jesus because a baby Jesus can’t make any demands on your life. What we forget is that Jesus didn't come to earth to stay in the manger. He learned to crawl and then to toddle and then to walk, and he kept walking right to a public execution. Jesus was born so that He could die and rise from the grave. He came to give us new life. If Jesus hadn't died and risen from the grave, then we would have no hope of finding peace in our lives. His birth, as amazing as it was, would mean nothing if He was not able to die for our sins and conquer death.
On Tuesday I am sure your house was filled with lots of empty boxes that a few hours earlier had been filled with gifts and expressions of love. But by Tuesday evening the empty boxes were noting more than a reminder of what happened. Today we can find peace because the manger is empty, Jesus grew up, He lived a life that perfectly fulfilled every aspect of the law. His life showed us what it is to love God with our lives and love our neighbor as our self. But not just the manger, the cross is also empty because Jesus took on the full wrath of God on account of our sins, and the tomb is empty because Jesus is alive. If you want to find peace in the midst of your X-Mess then you can’t leave Jesus in the manger, or on the cross. Jesus is alive! Celebrate the empty manger, the empty cross, and the empty tomb.
Now I want you to pull back from the movie, or better yet forget about the movie all together. I want you to understand that we can only find peace in the midst of our X-Mess because that tiny baby Jesus did grow to become a man. And because He did grow up, and fulfilled the whole Law of the Old Testament, and provided His life as the perfect sacrifice for our sins, we can find peace in the midst of our mess.
One of the most difficult lessons that I have learned in my life is that the peace that comes from Jesus has nothing to do with my external circumstances. I believe that one of the reasons that more of us don’t experience the peace of God is because we are looking for the wrong thing. Think back to the Israelites. They really believed that they would find peace when the promised Messiah would show up and deliver them from the cruel hands of the Romans. They were so focused on looking for a Warrior King that they completely missed the arrival of the true Messiah. They were so consumed in looking for their preconceived idea of the Messiah they missed out on the peace that was offered from the Messiah that was prophesied.
We still see people having this struggle with peace every day. They have bought into the lie that they can save themselves, or do anything to find a real and lasting peace. The world says a bottle of wine, a pill, cheesecake, a box of chocolate, or going on shopping spree will bring them a little peace. But what happens the next morning? Has the wine, chocolate, or new wardrobe brought you lasting peace?
I have often heard people say, If only I could get some peace and quiet, like it’s some sort of destination or something that exists out there. When in reality the peace that we are all searching for is peace that happens in our very souls. It happens when we learn to fully trust in Jesus and submit to His will for our lives.
Back in 1988, a screaming woman was trapped inside her car, which was about to plunge over the edge of the road in East Los Angeles. A half dozen passing motorists stopped, grabbed some ropes from one of their vehicles, tied the ropes to the back of a the woman’s car, and hung on until fire units arrived. A ladder was extended from below to help stabilize the car while firefighters tied the vehicle to tow trucks with cables and chains.
One of the rescuers observed: “Every time we would move the car, the woman inside the car would yell and scream. We thought she must be in some kind of terrible pain.” It took almost 2½ hours for the passersby, police officers, tow truck drivers, and firefighters to secure the car and pull the woman to safety. During the whole ordeal the woman continued to yell and scream the same thing over and over to rescuers. The Fire Captain said “It was not the fact that she was screaming that caught my attention, I work in emergency situations you grow accustomed to those things, It’s what she was screaming that caught my attention. She kept saying: ‘I’ll do it myself.’”
That’s how so many of us are looking for, searching for, peace in the midst of our mess. We think we can find it ourselves, we don’t want God’s help. We have bought into the lie that we are in control, or that we can control our circumstances. Our mess grows because we think that we can save ourselves. We think we can fix the problem on our own. We think we have all the answers. We think it all hangs on my ability, wisdom, good looks, or cunning.
Just like the disciples in our text this morning, there were at least 4 fishermen in that boat. There were 4 men that were very comfortable on the water, at least 4 men that made their living in these very waters. They had knowledge and experience on these waters. This was not the first storm that they had ever endure out on these waters, as fishermen they had lots of experience with storms. I am sure when the storm first began they believed that they would be able to handle the storm by themselves. This was a little thing, it was not a big enough mess to bother waking Jesus. But the truth is that the storm was too big for them to handle.
The same is true in our lives as well. We can only find true peace when we admit that we are not in control, God is. We must remember in the storms of life, amid the chaos and mess of this life that God is present and God is in control. The whole point of our text this morning is that God is near and will bring peace in the midst of our chaos.
Our text doesn't say that if we have Jesus in the boat with us, our lives wont get rocked. It doesn't mean that being in relationship with Jesus promises us perfect health, a satisfying marriage, a successful career, or a life without cares. You know first hand that even Christians have to deal with living in this broken world. The message we need to take from this is that when the storms of life threaten us we have someone to call on. We have someone who will help us carry the load. That someone is Jesus Christ.
Some of you are here this morning still dealing with the mess of the Holidays. Others of you are helplessly watching someone you love who are caught in their own mess, it could be a health problem, a marital problem, or an addiction problem. We must remember that Jesus is in the boat with us. He calls us to turn our eyes for a moment from the storm to the Savior. He asks us to hear his words, Peace! Be still. I am with you even to the ends of the earth. He asks us to not only hear these words, but believe them as well.
The Bible's answer to so much of what we go through in our life is hope. Heaven is a reality. Christmas reminds us of that reality. God doesn't offer us a hassle free life or a mess free life, but He does offer us a hope filled faith through the person of Jesus Christ. Today the grown up, crucified, and resurrected Savior invites you to come. Come to Him and take your concerns, and your worries, and your fears, and your hassles, and your hurt, and all of your mess. Be still. lay it at His feet and know that He is God.
Accept the gift of peace that comes from a Savior who was born, grew up, and in an amazing act of love, gave Himself as a willing sacrifice. Jesus Christ is the hope of the world, the baby Jesus, who was born, lived and was raised so we can experience forgiveness and a new life. Remember that no matter what comes against you, there is hope. You can experience it. You can have it. Jesus says to you, "Come all who are weary and in need of rest." Come to Him and experience His peace.