Nov 13, 2016  message "Willing to Let Go",  based on Malachi 4: 1-2 and Luke 21: 5-19

I want to begin this morning with all of you doing me a small favor.
Conjure up in your mind something that is very important and dear to you.
Then I want you to place that in the cup of your hands.
Now hold it close to your chest, to remind you of how much it means to you.
Now, take your hands, hold them out, open them and let go of what’s in them.
Hard to do, isn’t it? 

I don’t know what you had in your hands, but I can tell you some of the things people cling to.
We cling to places that we love, like a home, a hometown, a state or a nation.
We cling to things like safety and security, honor and self-esteem, or pride.
We cling to things we belong to like a church denomination or political affiliation.

The things we tend to cling to are what we often put our utmost,…or even ultimate,…hope and trust in.
When we’re young, we cling to our youthful health and good looks.
When we get older, we cling to our homes, possessions and financial security.
We think we must have these things or otherwise, we will become vulnerable.
We worry that, without them, our world will likely fall apart.

I’m sorry if it sounds harsh;…. but we need to be willing to let go of such things.
For the truth is; those things we don’t want to let go of will be taken anyway.
They will all be taken from us by a world that is fraught with sin and sadness.
I don’t mean we have to let go prematurely and stop loving our home or country.
I don’t mean stop voting because it doesn’t matter who gets elected.
I don’t mean looking nice and feeling healthy are not good things themselves.
But we need to be willing to not cling so tightly to those things that we put our faith and trust in when it comes time to let go of them.
Nothing on this earth lasts forever;….. not things,…or places,…..or people. 

In our Gospel reading, we hear Jesus tell his disciples about this kind of thing.
The beautiful temple in Jerusalem was something that all Jews clung to.
They assumed it was where God dwelt with them and that it would last forever.
And they could not imagine a world without their precious temple.
But 40 years after Jesus said this,… was totally destroyed, and still is today.
In response to a Jewish uprising, the Romans demolished it.

Of course, the same Romans clung to the idea that their empire would last forever and couldn’t fathom the idea of it not existing.
But years after destroying that temple in Jerusalem, the Roman Empire itself crumbled and was destroyed.

Jesus also tells his disciples to let go of any dream that his ministry would immediately fix the world they live in and that all will follow him.
He says there will be false prophets who claim his mantle and that many foolishly will listen to them.
And he says for them to let go of any sense that being his followers will make their lives easy, safe, and secure.
He warns them that they will suffer persecution and hardship, even at the hands of friends and family…..and many of them end eventually up doing just that.

So, you see, this, then, is really how life goes, doesn’t it?
We cling to these things that we think we must have, can’t live without,….and poof!~ they are taken from us at some point, in some way, shape or form.

Maybe the hardest thing that we cling to, are not places or things,….but people.
We cling to the people we love and also think we can’t live without them.
And, of course, it is good to love others and even to cling to them.
Sadly, they too will be taken from us at some point.
Friends,…parents and other loves ones go,…children leave home,…people die.
But Jesus even wants us to,….at some point,…to let go of them.
Not forget about them and to stop grieving the loss, but to entrust them to God.

That is because Jesus and the whole bible, tells us that there’s more.
There is more than just this world and what it provides and then takes away.
There is more than what we want to cling to and never want to let go of.

Both the prophet Malachi and Jesus in our lessons today say, that there is more.
That all things will be restored eventually or replaced with something better.
Malachi talks about it in general terms of an overall restoration.
Jesus goes into specifics and says he will help us with strength and support in our losses in this lifetime as well as when life here ends.

So we need to be able to let go of them….so we can go on.
We need to be willing to let go when they are taken and place our trust in God.
Have faith in God’s promises that we will be all right and things will be restored. 

So if you cling to a thing like your pride, know that God will replace that.
Replace it with being so loved that we don't have to compete with others.

If you cling to a place like nation or church denomination,…know that God will replace that too.
Replace it with a togetherness that transcends race, nation, or church.

And if you cling to a person or persons,…even that will be replaced.
Replaced by life with them in a better world where relationships are perfect.

God will at some point make perfect all that we now cling to.
I’m not sure if that new creation will be on earth or in another world beyond us.
(You can imagine that and decide for yourself).
But wherever it is, have faith in this promise of God that can help us to let go.
Help us let go when we have to,….because at some juncture,…we’ll all have to.

One last thing we’ll need to let go of at some point - our own lives.
Because there will even be a time when we ourselves are taken from this world.
But it’ll be easier to stop clinging to and let go of a life that is burning out,….
if we cling to and grasp the hope Jesus gives us that we’ll have a better one.

Faith in God’s promise to fix all in the end, gives us a reason to hope for new life.
And its that trust in Christ that God wants us to cling to most of all.
So don’t ever let go of that.
Because,….in the long run,….God and Jesus Christ will never be taken from us.