Saturday Sermon: Signs of the times

Jesus once rebuked His contemporaries because they knew not how to "interpret the signs of the times." - Matt. 16:1-4

That rebuke is again warranted in our times. I stand amazed, at times, when people - especially preachers - refuse to spiritually give insight into the signs of our times.

I can remember how clergyman after clergyman struggled to define what happened to the United States on 9/11. Was it a judgment, an act of God or something that could just happen anytime?

Most settled for this - it was a wake-up call for Americans, or at least for the church. This seemed certain to most of us. The house was divided about calling 9/11 a judgment from God. A judgment on whom? And why?

Perhaps it is because we do not want to unsettle folks any more than they are now. How much bad news can American souls take in one day, week, month? Or maybe it is because we're afraid - fearful of guessing wrongly and interpreting God's actions inaccurately or making people angry.

Or could it be that we really don't want to hear a prophetic comment on our social malaise? Perhaps we really can't judge our own hearts, and we (rightly) don't trust our own souls. Nevertheless, it seems to me that people need (and want) an answer.

Look at Deuteronomy 31:17-18: "Then my anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide my face from them, and they will be devoured. And many evils and troubles will come upon them, so they will say in that day, 'Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?' And I will surely hide my face in that day because of all the evil that they have done, because they have turned to other gods."

Could this be the answer for us, the one we are afraid to speak, reluctant to hear, refusing to accept?

If we believe in a sovereign God, then we must reject the idea that things just happen - even in a bent and broken world. If God is far from us, it is because we have moved away from God, not the reverse.

Former President Reagan once coined the phrase "pain index" - a combination of unemployment and inflation.

But there is a new kind of pain index facing President Obama and the U.S. - "these evils have come upon us because our God is not among us."

One would hope and pray for a president who would join with the prophets in the pulpits of America who must proclaim that.

Mike Singenstreu is the pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church, PCA, 1929 Red River St., in the Crossroads Center, pastordad@nodial.net