I share below a response to my sermon last week, from a friend I haven't seen in 30 years, on a far continent. An audio copy of the sermon Transforming Discontinuity is available at http://bit.ly/ad9QlP - please have a listen!
My friend's response:
Well. That was quite the most extraordinary experience!! I recognized your voice from 30 years ago. But I remember a shy, uncertain little fellow behind the voice. Now I hear a mature man speaking out with conviction and confidence. Are you aware of how you have changed?? Apropos your sermon. Just incredible. I would never have believed it.
The content of your sermon was also really thought provoking and inspiring. Inspiring because it made me think of discontinuous change. i.e. that change I experience today is not necessarily linked to what happened yesterday. As a psychologist I know that predictability is of key importance in our lives. And therefore your words make me wonder what affect unpredictable and discontinuous change has on us. I see this at work and your words make me aware of the needs of my colleagues. Their vulnerability and anxiousness about what tomorrow will bring.
Also, your words brought a memory back to me of a particular event I experienced while working in the UN. I was helping 3 children who had lost 4 of their siblings and their parents during the war. We had to extract these three young people because the oldest son was going to testify for the prosecution and their lives were threatened because of that. I took part in the extraction and we fetched them with one hours notice in a UN helicopter. They will never return to their home country and now have new identities living “elsewhere” as we say in the UN.
While I was in contact with them, I was notified by a UN inspector that the remains of their family had been identified in a mass grave through DNA samples. The UN DNA tested the whole of the respective nation for this purpose. Since they were not able to return home, I volunteered on their behalf to visit the mass grave, fetch their family and ensure that they received a proper burial according to the Muslim faith.
While standing in this grave with the remains of a small 4 year old boy in my arms his body wrapped in a blue UN packet, I felt so incredibly alone and bereft. So this is the “end station” of war I thought. Suddenly I was aware of a presence by my side. Saw no one. But the intense feeling that Jesus was standing at my side with me. His support for me and his care for me enabled me to do what I had come to do.
In the UN, every day is full of discontinuous change. And trauma. You mention both repeatedly in your sermon. And I can testify to the fact that the certainty that the Lord in whom I believe is with me always.
Thank you Mark!!