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Still in Control

Still in Control

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Published by Joseph Winston

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Published by: Joseph Winston on Nov 29, 2009
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12/07/2009

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Still In Control
The Rev. Joseph WinstonNovember 29, 2009
Sermon
Grace and peace are gifts for you from God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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Loosing control is a frightening experience. Commonly, people say that timeappearstomoveinslowmotion.Framebyframe,stepbystep,agonizinginstanttothe next, the awful film plays out right before your eyes. With razor sharp clarity,you can see what will happen next. You no longer are in charge. Even though itappears to you that time is standing still, in actuality, you do not even have timeto think. Hours of mind numbing training now pay off. Your mind immediately jumps to the proper procedure, your throat barks out orders that might be yourlast, and your educated hands fly to their proper places. Their combined mission issimple. Continue to run the show as long as possible. As the inevitable approachesyou, instinct finally kicks in. Your heart races, palms sweat, and you speak one last
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Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, Philippians1:2, 2 Thessalonians 1:2, Philemon 1:3.
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prayer. Then you can do more.We live in this world. Accidents happen all the time. An airplane collideswith birds and it ends up with its passengers and crew in the icy cold HudsonRiver. Cars spin out on wet roads and careen into guardrails. The ambulance raceswith its sirens blaring toward the emergency room carrying its precious cargo of ahuman life.These everyday experiences that we all share of loosing control might makeit completely impossible for you to believe that God is in charge of the world.But that is exactly what must happen. To understand today’s Gospel lesson, toappreciate the message behind the four weeks of Advent, and to recognize the giftof Christ’s birth, you need to trust that God is behind every action here on earth.This is hard to do. Normally, people do not see God as the force behind his-tory.
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Turn to almost any history book for proof. There you will see long anddetailed discussions on the climate’s impact on people, involved analysis of thenative people and their interactions with the newly arrived settlers, tables of natu-ral resources found in the area, and even a complete list of the disasters that befellthem. God will be missing from these pages.Another complication you face is how we look at the past. In our society, wesee history as the days of yore that starts way back there and continues to yes-terday. These former times can be grouped into chapters that have a beginning,a middle, and an end. One comes after another in the books we write. Our civ-
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ilization does not see an end of all this collecting and collating. We believe thattomorrow’s history is nothing more than a page in a chapter that someone else willwrite.
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The final obstacle set before you and the belief that God has a set plan forthe world, is the way the Church reads the Bible during worship. Rather thandoing what most people might by reading a book from its beginning to its end, weinstead begin our Advent journey near the end of the Gospel according to St. Lukeand then during the year we jump through the book. By doing this, you actuallymiss the introduction where the author tells you,Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of theevents that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed ontousbythosewhofromthebeginningwereeyewitnessesandservantsof the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefullyfrom the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellentTheophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the thingsabout which you have been instructed. (NRSV Luke 1:1-4)By skipping right past these four critical verses and starting your reading fromLuke just before the Good Friday account, you practically loose the author’s in-tentions. He proposes to show you the history of salvation.
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He wants to prove toyou God’s plan for the world. He has seen everything with his own eyes and he
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Luke’s specific interest is presenting theology in history and this approach is unique in ancientliterature.Ibid., p.116.
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