1 Samuel 8: 10-24. 1 Kings 9: 15-19. Matthew 21: 1-11.
Early Morning Service
This is a hard world in which to find hope.
I was in the gym one day trying to build up my general strength and exercise after my heart attack.
And I was on the cross trainer working away. And decided to read the news while I was on the cross trainer.
It was the 13th of March. I had about an hour to do and then I would be going off to the hospital to visit some very sick people.
These are the first articles that I read.
The first was on Nicoleta Bolos.
She had gone with her husband from Romania to Italy to work on the farms. There is hardly any work in Romania and she and her husband were willing to work hard harvesting on the farms to get money to send home to the family.
The farmer had told her husband that if he didn’t let him sleep with his wife then he would kick them off the farm. So the husband agreed. When Nicoleta protested her husband beat her up.
So every night the farmer or one of his hands would go to the shed that Nicoleta slept in.
If that was a one off then that would be horrific enough.
They believe that that attitude is rampant in Italy.
They believe that 7,500 Romanian migrant women may be raped on a regular basis.
Romanian women makeup 4% of the female population of Italy.
Romanian women make up over 20% of the abortions in Italy.
The next story was on the fears of Norway.
Norway is the first line of defence against Russia.
And they have noticed that there is a huge build up of weapons, super-stealth submarines, ballistic weapons on their frontier.
There is a line called the Greenland –Iceland gap, on a map it is really quite small, it goes from the islands of Scotland to Greenland, it is a small area that we monitor because if the subs got through that bit, then any support from ships from America to Europe would be vulnerable.
Over the years we have cut back monitoring this area because we thought the cold war was thawing and we could save money. American monitoring stations in Iceland had been closed.
But surveillance that took ten years to downgrade, may take 20 years to restore. Norway is rapidly increasing it’s surveillance. Sweden has just restarted compulsory conscription.
They have fears that what Russia has been practicing in Syria they could be prepared to do in Europe, and Europe and America are not prepared.
The next story was on the antagonism between Turkey and Netherlands. The Netherlands was going through tough elections. Meanwhile Turkey was trying to send politicians into Netherlands to influence the many Turkish immigrants about a referendum in Turkey. Netherlands said that they shouldn’t send anyone just now as it was too close to their elections. Turkey said that they wouldn't then organised a rally and tried to sneak a politician in. Netherlands found out and refused to let her speak and then sent her back to the border.
Back in Turkey the flag at the Netherland consulate was forcibly removed and replaced with a Turkish flag.
Netherlands is complaining that Turkey is trying to influence their elections, Turkey is threatening to open the doors to all their refugees from Syria.
Then there was a piece on the famine that is hitting Somalia and South Sudan and how much of it is caused by internal conflict and an unwillingness for people of different tribes to work together. And estimates on just how many children are dying per day.
It is a hard job to find hope in this world.
Imagine that you could talk to the one person you believe could change it all.
Imagine you believe you are talking to the Messiah.
He is here with you.
You have seen him perform miracles.
Thousands upon thousands of people fed...it could be the end of hunger in the world.
Healings, the blind see, the lame walk...it could be the end of sickness in the world.
And if this Messiah could rule the world...then it could be the end of conflict in the world.
What hope you would have.
Then think how you would feel if that hope was destroyed.
That they tortured him and crucified him in front of your eyes.
The world had the chance of peace, the world had the chance of change.
And they crucified him.
How could you cope?
The week before you were shouting praise to God for the coming of His Messiah into Jerusalem.
And now you are standing there with a broken body.
And your soul is just as broken.
And that is when God comes.
In that moment when your strength is done.
In that moment when you realise you can do nothing.
In that moment when you can only accept that you are not in control.
In that moment you realise that what we have, and what we do, and what we think is so important, is just so insignificant...
that’s when God comes.
An empty tomb, the realisation that God gives what we need.
The realisation that the evil never wins in the end.
The fact that God puts in the world people who are willing to fight, and keep on fighting to bring moments of the Kingdom down on earth.
That no matter how evil tries to hide in the shadows a light shines on that evil and people don't get away with wrong.
And even in our own lives the light shines in the darkness.
I left that gym and headed off to the hospitals.
I had to see one old man who had had a stroke and his family had been called for because his end was near.
I had to see a woman who was literally going to starve to death and they couldn't work out what was wrong.
The old man had recovered enough that they were talking of him going home.
The woman, they still couldn't work out why she was unable to eat, but they had worked out how to get food into her so that she could get fit enough and strong enough to carry on until they worked out what to do next.
Hope isn't a fantasy happy ending. That would just let us down again and again.
Hope is believing that things can change.
That it is worth working for change.
Because if God never gives up, then why should we?
The problem the world has isn't that it hasn't got hope.
The problem that the world has is that it hopes in the wrong things.
We hope in the world leaders, we hope in our own personal strength, we hope in the expertise of others.
The truth is, sometimes it is only when we loose hope in these things,
that we have the courage to see our real hope,
our real hope is in a God who is always there...especially in the darkness.
Have hope, but have hope in the right things, the right person.