Angelic Peace

On December 16, 2019, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

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Angelic Peace
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

Let us dwell together in peace and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen.

I have friend who has been going through a very difficult ordeal for months now. She’ll tell me when she’s tired or in pain or anxious or deeply disappointed, and if I catch myself trying to put a coat of emotional paint on her frustration, I immediately apologize and say something like, “you’re entitled to those feelings. What do you need from me?”
Or sometimes I’ll say, “that sucks, but you’re amazing.”
Or sometimes I’ll just say, “I love you.”
My job isn’t to overcome my discomfort by trying to make hers go away.
My job is just to hear her and love her. Full stop.

We see in the story of Hagar how peace can come from just being heard.

Hagar is an enslaved person.
She has been forced to be someone’s concubine.
And now, the same people who have used her in such terrible ways, have turned her out into the wilderness.
She is now homeless and facing starvation, with her child. Hagar has known pain, frustration, and injustice and much of it has been caused by people of faith!

Hagar doesn’t need anyone to tell her to bear with the abuse and cruelty because things will be better in the next life.
She doesn’t need anyone to tell her that her suffering is redemptive, or that God won’t give her more than she can bear, or that she’s being tested, or attacked by demonic forces, or punished by God.
She doesn’t need anyone to tell her that she needs more faith.
She doesn’t need anyone telling her that if she had just stayed in her country of origin bad things might not have happened to her.

Religious people, religious superstars have abused her and then rejected her. she’s not interested in other religious people blaming her for the mistreatment she has received.

She doesn’t need bad theology; she needs to be seen, and heard.
She’s scared and lonely and hurting and overwhelmed and has no idea what to do next.

And then God’s messenger, God’s angel, a manifestation of God’s presence appears to her and says this: God has heard your child crying.

That’s the good news. Not that the mother and child shouldn’t be scared or angry or perplexed. Just that they have been heard.

God sees them. God cares. God responds with the power of presence. That’s the healing. That’s the possibility of peace. That’s the miracle.

No one was able to make it okay, there’s nothing okay about Hagar’s predicament. It’s unfair, it’s unnecessary, it’s heartless, it’s awful.
but God could remind her that she was worthy of care and concern.
God noticed. God cared. She was never alone. She was not forgotten. She was heard.

In fact, her child’s name, Ishmael, means “god has heard.”

A famous minister lost his son in a car accident. Well meaning friends tried to comfort him with bad theology. They told him, “God called him home.” He corrected them sharply. he said, “God didn’t kill my boy; in fact, when my son died, God was the first one to shed a tear.”

16 year old Guatemalan Carlos Vasquez died in border custody. He had the flu and 103 degree temperature. He needed medical care. He collapsed on the hard floor of his cell, and hours later died. You’d think the only possible human response would be gut wrenching sorrow. It wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair. It didn’t need to happen. But I do believe that he did not die alone. The light of God surrounded him, the love of God enfolded him, the presence of god watched over him, and when he took his last breath God wailed with the pain of a mother watching her child die.

Human politics and human prejudice and human institutions failed to treat Carlos as a child of God, but divine love never let him go. That doesn’t excuse the injustice, it simply reminds us that not even human cruelty can separate us from the love that God is.

There’s not a spot where God is not.
God is present.
God knows.
God hears.
God cares.
God sends angels, signs of God’s presence, to remind us that God is near; that God’s love will never let us go.

The other day I was a little down in the dumps. While I was sitting in my recliner looking, I imagine, quite forlorn, my sweet dog Bella crawled into my lap (all 80 pounds of her), and put her head on my shoulder. She noticed. She cared. She loved. She was my angel. I felt better. Not that my doldrums were instantly cured, but I felt noticed, cared about, my heart and soul had been heard.

A cat, a dog, a friend, a stranger, a song, a line in a movie, a phrase in a book, a butterfly, a memory, a thought, a sunset…an angel can take any guise and remind us that God is with us. The power of presence can offer peace, angelic peace.

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising god and saying, ‘glory to god in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill to all people.’”

I don’t know what you may be facing, and I don’t know how to fix it whatever it is…but I do believe that God is aware of it, and God is with you, and God may just have an angel ready to remind you that God hears the cry of your heart and responds with pure love.
Listen to your angels…they are reminding you that God knows; God cares. And this is the good news. Amen.

God hears the cry of my heart…
and responds with pure love.

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