Growing up in Sumas, my father was the pastor of this church, we lived in a house owned by the church on Vancouver Street (empty house directly east of Edaleen Dairy). Looking back, one of the amazing things is that when people would get stopped at the Border trying to get into Canada, if they had any needs at all, the Canadian customs gave them the name and address of our house! In those days, it was a trickle of people, every few months I’d answer the door to find somebody that needed help. How often my father, on behalf of this church, would put them in the hotel for the night and he’d call Bromley’s to let them know somebody was coming to buy food, and put it on the church’s tab….
Two days earlier Jesus had been crucified. Here’s how it went. The Roman centurion, certified Jesus as dead. If anyone knew death when he saw it, this man did. This is good news to Pilate. He didn't need any trouble in his province and Jesus' death sentence was a troubling matter.
It was doubly good news to the religious leaders. This imposter Messiah was dead and they didn't need anybody creating trouble and unrest that would stir up the Roman occupiers. The beginning of the Sabbath and Passover at sunset was now only a couple hours away.
You see, the timing was all bad for the Jewish religious leaders. Yes, they wanted Jesus dead, but by Jewish practice, they couldn’t allow a body to be on the cross over Sabbath. If Jesus’ death was slow, and it he could have hung there for a couple days before dying, they would have to hasten the process and request that his legs be broken so Jesus would suffocate because he would be hanging just by his arms. Then the body had to be removed and quickly disposed of or entombed.
Romans 8:28 is one of the most loved verses in the Bible, or one of the most frustrating, depending on your point of view. One person described the verse as “A soft pillow for a tired heart” (RA Torrey). Many of you have taken comfort with this truth: You were sick and this verse was like medicine to your soul. When you faced death these words helped carry you through. You were crushed by the winds of ill-fortune and this verse gave you hope to go on, “in all things God works for the good.”
The counter-argument: Sickness is not good. Murder is not good. Divorce is not good. The death of a child is not good. A soft pillow for a tired heart???? How dare you!! My life is being ripped apart and you tell me it’s all good????
Last Fall I was at the old Lion’s Den in Nooksack… suddenly the lights went out. Debbie Redinger comes running in a panick, “Come out and look, it looks like a bomb exploded.” Two blocks away, in front of the old post office in Nooksack, smoke was filling the street and engulfing the Nooksack City. We could tell there was a single source, and it did look like I’d imagine a bomb detonated, but no explosion.
I walked home, by this time utility crews and police officers were arriving. A power line for no apparent reason had snapped and hit the ground. The smoke was billowing, the fire powerful and the heat intense. The ground was on fire. 3-4 months later I was walking by, and this is what I found…. (show and tell of the melted dirt…). I am amazed at the transformation… as far as I can tell, this is melted dirt…the fire was so intense… the blazing heat, for a very long time…. It has its own beauty…
It was May 25, 2006, Dan Mazur stood within a two hour hike of the summit of Mount Everest; a thousand feet from realizing a life-long dream. Climbers call the realm above twenty-six thousand feet “the death zone.” Temperatures hover below zero. Sudden blizzards stir blinding snow. The atmosphere is oxygen starved. A British climber had died ten days prior to Dan Mazur’s attempt. Forty climbers who could have helped, chose not to do so. They passed him by on the way to the summit. Everest can be cruel.
At 7:30 AM with the air still, morning sun brilliant, and hopes high, Mazur spotted a set of “tracks.” At the end of the tracks sat a man with gloves off, chest bare, near death. This man turned out to be “Lincoln Hall”. Twelve hours earlier his team had left him on the mountain. His team thought that they had left his body on the slope; and yet, after spending the night at twenty below zero with no oxygen, Lincoln Hall was still alive.
Mazur was face to face with a “miracle”. He was also face to face with a choice. Do we pass by on the other side or do we attempt a rescue. A rescue attempt would have profound risks. The descent was already treacherous, even more so with the weight of a dying man. Besides, how long would Hall survive? No one knew. The three climbers had to choose: abandon their dream or abandon Lincoln Hall. They chose to abandon their dream.
Their decision to save Hall’s life stirs a great question. Would we do the same? Sacrifice our ambitions, schedules, and goals to help someone else? We all make such decisions daily. Not on Mt. Everest, but in homes with spouses and children, at school with friends, at work, and in church with fellow Christians. The Question remains the same: Who comes first, do they or do I?
Carl Crouse, Pastor
At SACC we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Every Sunday the worship service includes a message from the Bible. My words are an attempt to understand and apply the Bible to our daily living. I post weekly sermons and other biblical messages on this page. May you find meaning and hope as you read through each message and seek to hear God's voice. Leave a comment to ask questions or inspire others with your insights.