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What Great Big Stones You Have

Mark 13:1-8

The Rev. Jon Roberts

15 November

2015

Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

1 As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” 2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” 3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?” 5 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

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Little Red Riding Hood by Carl Larrson, 1881

For those who have been in peril,
on the sea, on land and in air,
there is something they have common;
They all have gone through,
a great big scare.[1]

Wars and rumors of wars, famines across the land, may disguise themselves, like a wolf who waits for the moment, to give a great big scare.

The story of Little Red Riding Hood is one that goes back to the Frenchmen, Charles Perrault, in the 17th century as a local folklore. One could read it for the first time in the booklet, The Tales of Mother Goose. You remember the story. A little girl, with a red riding hood travel through the dark and looming forest to visit her granny, carrying a basket of food. Along the way a wolf approached her, asking her where she was going and what was in the basket. The wolf ran ahead to granny’s house and drove her out, only to take her place. Dressed in granny’s clothes, her sleeping gown and cap and putting on her spectacles, the wolf climbed into bed and pulled up the sheets. When Little Red Riding Hood arrived she called out to Granny and discovered her in her bed, but she didn’t look the same. Granny was apparently sick when answering back to the call.
Little Red Riding Hood went closer and said, “My what a deep voice you have Granny.” “Better to greet you with, my dear,” said the Wolf. Going closer for inspection, Little Red Riding Hood said, “My what big eyes you have Granny.” “Better to see you with, my dear,” said the Wolf. Still, moving closer, “My what big hands you have Granny.” “Better to grab you with,” barked the Wolf. Then, Little Red Riding Hood, in fear said, “My what big teeth you have.” “Better to eat you with,” shouted the Wolf and out he came and gave chase. But just at that moment the real Granny with the Woodsmen and his axe came and put the Wolf down. Undoubtedly her life was in peril, and was given a great scare.

Today, is a day we honor our Veterans, whose lives were in peril; On the ships, the trenches and the planes;
On sea, on land and in the air. Most will tell you the fear of the uncertainty of battle made them trust in God and to put their lives in His hands. They heard the shots of wars and rumors of wars. They went through villages and saw great famines and in peril. Hardships come in many ways and our lives may become a living battleground.

We find another lady who was going through a dark forest herself, where she was told she would never bear a child. She did not want to live in fear so she cried out to God, the great Woodsmen of her salvation to rescue her from her peril. Little Red Hannah was given a double portion by her husband Elkanah, as the story goes, of unfailing love and commitment to be faithful to God.[2] They had been told, if they could not bear a son, then their family had no meaning, no purpose, no future. This was the great lie; the great scare. If you cannot bear a son, your days are over. They pleaded with God, ‘Lord if you would give us a son, we will let him grow as one dedicated to your upbringing and be pure. We will not shave a hair on his head nor offer wine or any intoxicant.” This is the story of the birth of the prophet Samuel, who one day would be appointed by God to lay hands on the shepherd boy, David to become the king of Israel. From this lineage we see the importance of crying out to God in our most desperate hour, when there is an enormous weight. We must resist being deceived during perilous times.

In the Gospel the disciples were living under the weight of the “bigness” of the City of Jerusalem and the grandeur of the temple.[3] They craned their necks to look up the mighty walls, studying the block and saying, “My what big stones these are.” They invested their lives in their rabbi, who was not very impressed. He simply said, “These walls will all come down.” His kingdom was greater than this, he told them. Goodness prevails and he put away their fears; but you have to trust in him. He gave merit to his statement by letting them know that since the beginning of time, humanity has gone through its various cycles of civilization where people were either close to God or far away. These big walls were made to create a protective, holy tabernacle for God’s people to worship, but instead it became a fortress imposing war among the people with division and locking out those starved by famine. In a sense, the temple became the Big Bad Wolf, and it was coming after every Jew. It was a matter of time.

It should not surprise anyone when warfare and bloodshed takes place when people turn away from God. This is the fate of a civilization when it refuses to trust in God, yet Jesus travels by sea, by land and by air to protect those in despair. Like Hannah, he came to her rescue and made a miracle happen. In her darkness moment, as she is chased by the wiles of the devil, lying and threatening her existence. Like David, who toppled Goliath, the biggest, baddest wolf around with three small stones.

Like those who served in battle, wondering why they were fortunate to survive when so many others didn’t make it out alive, they saw wars, rumors of wars, famine and much bloodshed. How do you stop it? You must call out for the great Woodsment who will chase away the deceiver. Many of us are just like those disciples, frozen in fear and paralyzed by the weight of sin. Jesus sees right through this. “My what great big stones you have.” Be careful you are not sinking under the sheets, trying to hide from the great scare of losing your life, believing you have no purpose, thinking you have no future. Jesus says those stones will one day, all fall down. At the time of battle, what will you choose, fight or flight? How will you overcome unsurmountable odds?

When we turn the pages of history, we only see what is outside the wall. It is when we have lived inside it, that it becomes us. No one can imagine what war or famine is like until they have lived through it. Jesus is at war every day with the devil, who is determined to lead many people astray. Do not be one of them. Know when God is calling you to battle you build up your munitions of faith, prayer, study and practice what is pure, what is holy. When nations rise against the Nation of Christ, when kingdoms rise up against the Kingdom of God, the big, bad wolf will be put to flight. He does not stand a chance. No stone is too great. When the odds are against you and the fortress of corruption seems impregnable, do not let your heart be troubled. God is with you. He is the eternal father, who sent his Son to chase out the devil and protect you.[4] Wherever you may be, he is strong to save, whether by air, by land or by sea.

[1] The Rev. Jon Roberts
[2] 1 Samuel 1:4-20
[3] Mark 13:1-8
[4] Reference to Eternal Father, strong to save “The Navy hymn”, 1982 Hymnal #608

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