SERMON SERIES: “What Then Are We to Say?”
SERMON TITLE: “God Is for Us!”
SCRIPTURE TEXT: Romans 8:31-39 and Jeremiah 29:1-14
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: February 2, 2020, at First UMC
Coronavirus in China, impeachment hearings in Washington, D.C., deadly flu in Utah, constant talk about corruption, the deaths of two beloved members of our congregation, an impending snowstorm, the death of a basketball superstar, a high-profile sexual misconduct trial, the on-going conflicts and uncertainty within the United Methodist denomination—all these public things and many other, more-personal, concerns weigh heavily upon us. Even the most optimistic among us can’t help but come to church worn down by at least some worries and troubles.
In that regard, we’re not so different from God’s people of earlier generations and millennia. Like a “Groundhog Day” repetition, over and over again the people of God have experienced a variety of troubles that they perceived were either self-inflicted or brought about by their enemies, by occurrences of nature, or by the hand of God’s judgment.
In the middle of the first century, in his letter to the Christians who lived in Rome, the Apostle Paul wrote about “hardship, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and sword.” These were the stresses they were experiencing. And Paul’s intent was to cheer them up, to move their minds to a better place, to realize that—even in very real times of terrible trouble—God is busy working for the good of those who are called according to God’s purpose.
During these first three Sundays of February, I want us to think about and claim Paul’s hopeful words. In Romans 8:31, Paul asks the rhetorical question: “What then are we to say about these things?” And then he gives three answers: “God is for us!”, “Jesus intercedes for us!”, and “Nothing can separate us from God’s love.” Today, using some help from the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, we’re going to embrace that first answer. Yes, indeed, God is for us!