Home Brewed with Kate Brown: Peace Be The Journey

Home Brewed with Kate Brown: Peace Be The Journey


– Peace be the journey. Good morning, my name is Kate Brown. I’m the Oakville Community pastor. It’s so great to be here
with you this morning. Who here has seen that
movie, “Cool Runnings”? It’s a classic, yeah. My brother Dave and I
watched it about four times over Christmas. We love it. It’s a story, for those
of you who don’t know, it’s a true story about
a Jamaican bobsled team who trains in the desert,
and then actually competes at the Olympics, they’re
eligible to compete. So it’s one of those
feel-good, underdog story, but “peace be the journey”
has become kind of one of our family mottoes. Peace is something that I
think is pretty universal, in that everyone is looking for peace. I have a friend that went in an exchange, and he worked in this very
small village in Ghana. And the saying that they
said to each other at the end of every, or at the end of
greeting each other, was “Spend your day in peace.” And I think that’s so beautiful. I have adopted it, I’ve
appropriated it, and started using it as much as
I can, but it’s a blessing, “Spend your day in peace.” We live in a world where, you know, some of my best friends… I was in theater for a long time and some of my best friends don’t
necessarily share my faith, but they’re very good at what they do. They work on Broadway,
they’re very talented. They’re just exceptional people
at the top of their fields. I wanted to go visit them in
New York and one of my friends said, “I don’t think I believe
in God, but when you talk about your faith, it
kind of makes me cry.” And another friend said, “If
I did believe in God, the one thing that I would pray for is peace,” and then she started to cry. And I just feel like we
live in this world where I’m not sure what’s going
on, but it feels like things are a little bit broken, and
how much anxiety there is. There’s a statistic that
says that one out of three North American adults struggle with anxiety and panic attacks. That’s a really high number,
and I think, personally, that also an epidemic in
the West is loneliness. We have loneliness, and
they’re probably tied together, I believe. And Jesus offers us something else. He says, “Come to me,
all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.” Rest from your anxious mind
and your worried thoughts. But also it’s an
invitation to relationship. “Come to me and I will give you rest,” rest from your loneliness. There’s a verse that’s come
up again and again for me this last year. For almost exactly a year, God
has given me the same verse, and it comes up again and
again in all different places. Have you ever had that experience? Has anyone ever had that experience? Yeah, I think sometimes that happens and it’s for two reasons. One is that clearly God just
wants you to hear this message, He wants you to know
this very specific thing, it’s important that you
remember this, and that you’re reminded of it. But the other is that He wants
you to know that He’s present with you, that He’ll break
into your day-to-day life, and all of a sudden there will
be this verse and you think, “Thank you, Lord, yes, that’s for me.” So, my verse for this year… My family has gone through
a bit of a tough time this year and a half. I know a lot of you know
that and have been praying for us, and we really appreciate that. About a year and a half ago,
exactly, my little brother, who is like the funniest,
smartest, most handsome, talented, accomplished person that
you would ever meet. I’m glad that he’s my
little brother instead of being my older brother, so I
didn’t have to live up to this. But he is very fit, very
active, and he had a seizure out of nowhere, and it turned
out that it was cancer, it was brain cancer, and
so he has had, we’ve had, a really kind-of wild ride
this last year and a half. But if something like that
happens in your family, it’s like a bomb drops. It’s like before and after. So, a year ago, I was
teaching for the first time, almost exactly a year
ago I was teaching here, and I was talking about
exchanging our strength for God’s, and that we don’t have to do
things on our own efforts. And right after that we
went up to the cottage for two weeks as a family
and Dave, my brother Dave, he flew from California. I took some weeks off work,
and we were all up there, but it wasn’t what we all expected because Dave didn’t feel that great. He still had had some headaches, he’s the most positive person,
but he had to sleep a lot and it’s just this new
normal for all of us. That was hard, and I spent
a lot of time on the dock and praying and feeling
anxious and afraid, and feeling kinda powerless. It’s really hard to see
someone you love so much go through such a crummy
thing, and be in pain and be uncomfortable,
and not really be able to give him any relief. But our really good friend,
sort of our adopted sister, Esther, who is a coordinator
here, she came down to the dock one day and she’s like, “Babe,
I have a verse for you.” It’s Exodus 14:14, and it says, “God will fight for you,
you just need to be still.” “God Himself will fight for
you, you only need to be calm.” Some translations say, “Hold
your peace, God Himself will intervene, you only
need to hold your peace.” And that verse came up
again and again and again over this last year for me,
so one thing that happened was I went down to L.A. in October
because the meeting house gave me a leave, and I
was able to be with Dave and his girlfriend as they
went to radiation every day. It was just, again, a really tough thing, so I’d wake up early and
try to like walk the dog and exhaust the dog, so the
dog would be like asleep for the rest of the day,
but then it would be like driving through traffic and
going to these appointments, and then feeling kind of
crummy and going to bed. And I would just be walking
and praying and just feeling, again, just powerless and afraid. And so my dad came down
to visit us, and I said, Dad, I think we need to
get to church, we need to get to a church. So we went to a church called Mosaic, which is a great church,
it’s a very cool church. Probably everyone there was under 30, and then my dad and I. (laughs) So, we went in and the lights
were off, and there were flashlights to get to your
seat, and then Dad and I were like, “We’re in.” It was really interesting. Erwin McManus is the pastor
there, and he came out and he’s a very cool guy, and
walked onstage and he said, “Okay, open your Bibles. “Our verse for this
morning is Exodus 14:14.” And my hair blew back, and
my dad looked over at me, and I was like, this is our verse. “God Himself will fight for you. “You need only to be still.” And it was just like, thank you Lord. Thank you Lord that you’re
with me, that you knew I needed this encouragement,
that you knew I needed to be reminded of your promise,
that you are in control and that my job is just to stay calm. I’ve been trying to go
down to L.A. every month just to see Dave. That’s about how long I can
go until I just miss him too much, and I just wanna be with him. We all know, I think we all
know that life isn’t forever. Sometimes there’s a lie that
it just goes on and on and on, but then something like
this happens in your life and you just feel like, I’m
not gonna miss one moment, I’m going to really appreciate
every single second. So I started to do things
like, when something was really fun or we’d be
laughing, I’d be kind of like, (click noise) like just remember this moment. The last time I was in L.A., Dave and I, there’s these things in L.A. called Birds. I think I have a picture of them, they’re like scooters, yep. I made Dave take this picture of me. Take a picture of me on the Bird. But they’re really cool,
there’s an app, and you can see where they are, and then
you just take your phone and put it on top of the Bird, and you can take them
anywhere, so Dave and I “birded” all over L.A. And I have a very distinct memory of Dave. Well, first we switched
Birds because Dave wanted the faster one, which was
mine, and then Dave went flying over the crest of
this hill, and it was like water, and the sun was
setting, and Dave was laughing. And I was just like, thank you Lord, this is the best moment. (clicking) And then the next day I had
to go home, which I hate. I always have trouble
saying goodbye to Dave. So you know you wake up in
the morning and you remember, like, oh, I have to go home,
and the tears are like ohhhh. And I reached over for my phone, and I looked at the Bible app. Do you guys use the Bible app? Okay, so this is just
another funny tidbit. I’m terrible at technology. My brother used to work for Google. I was like, did you know you can get the Bible on your phone? He was like, “I don’t know we’re related.” (audience laughs) I touch the phone, verse of the day, Exodus 14:14. “God himself will fight for you.” And again, it’s just like… Thank you Lord, but it’s
like, “You need this reminder “and I’m here, and it’s going
to be me, and I am in control, “and you need to hold your peace.” Yeah. Dave is actually doing
really, really well right now. He’s finished all of his
treatment, and so thank you for praying for him. He’s in a really good spot. He’s just an example to me. He said, “I don’t know what
the future holds, but I know “that the present is a gift
and I’m going to enjoy it.” So thank you for praying
for us, it’s more than we could have hoped or imagined. Yeah. Okay, Exodus 14:14. It’s been my verse for the
whole year, but we’re gonna look at the context of that verse. So you can turn your Bibles
to Exodus 14, and if you don’t have a Bible, ushers
have visitor Bibles that you can borrow if you want to use one. If you’re at regional
sites, there will be Bibles at the front of your theater. I’m just gonna read from
this actually, here we go. Fourteen, we’re gonna start at verse five. So, the context of this
verse, “God himself will fight for you, you need only
to be still,” is that the Israelites have escaped from Egypt. Pharaoh has agreed to let
them go, so all the slaves have been released, and they
march boldly out of Egypt, and they camp by the Red
Sea, and then this happens. “When the King of Egypt was
told that the people had fled, “Pharaoh and his officials
changed their minds about them “and said, ‘What have we done?
We have let the Israelites go “and we’ve lost their services.’ “So he had his chariot made ready “and took his army with him.” This is kind of a funny next verse. “He took 600 of the best
chariots, along with all the other “chariots in Egypt…” I just found that funny, it’s
like oh, he took 600 of the best cars in Mississauga,
along with all the other cars in Canada. Anyway, just me. “With officers all over them. “The Lord hardened the heart
of Pharaoh, King of Egypt, “so that he pursued the Israelites, “who were marching out boldly.” And you might remember that
Bruxy actually addressed this, people had asked the
question, well if God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, then wasn’t God actually the one who did this, and not Pharaoh? But actually the original Greek is chazaq oh, no, Hebrew, chazaq, and it actually means strengthen. So, not hardened, it means
strengthened, so Pharaoh made the decision, and
God allowed him to make the decision that he was going to make, and strengthened and reinforced it. Okay “…the heart of Pharaoh,
King of Egypt, so that “he pursued the Israelites
who were marching out boldly. “The Egyptians, all Pharaoh’s
horses and chariots, “horsemen and troops,
pursued the Israelites “and overtook them as they
camped by the sea near “Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon.” Does anyone actually know
how to pronounce those? No? Okay. “As Pharaoh approached, the
Israelites looked up, and there “were the Egyptians, marching after them.” I just want to point
out, they looked up so, you’ve got all the
Israelites by the Red Sea, and they look up, and they
see hundreds of thousands of Egyptian soldiers descending upon them. “And they were terrified and
they cried out to the Lord.” They’re terrified. There’s no way out,
there’s no way forward, there’s no escape, they’re
stuck, they’re trapped, they feel like their lives are ending, and they have a natural reaction. It’s not reasonable, but it’s human. They’re like, “Who’s to blame for this?” “They said to Moses, ‘Was it
because there were no graves in “Egypt that you brought us to
the desert to die? What have “you done to us by
bringing us out of Egypt? “Didn’t we say to you in
Egypt, leave us alone, “let us serve the Egyptians? “It would have been better
for “us to serve the Egyptians “than to die in the desert!’ “And Moses answered the
people, ‘You ungrateful…'” Just kidding, he didn’t, but
he could have, because actually Moses wasn’t one of the
enslaved Israelites. He went and advocated on their behalf. He wasn’t one of the marginalized people. He grew up in Pharaoh’s
house, but he went and helped the Israelites because they
were slaves and he wanted to help them get out of Egypt. And so then, this happens,
and they’re all furious. “What did you do?” to Moses? They all look at Moses,
like hundreds of people, but Moses, I love how he responds. He has the right to be right. He has the right to rebuke
them and engage with them, but instead he chooses compassion. Henri Nouwen talks about
compassion over competition. By competition you just
engage with someone and you wanna win, and
you know you’re right. And compassion is that you
know that sometimes the issue isn’t actually the issue, so you respond to the person’s heart. So Moses ignores all these
awful things that they said, all these untrue things,
and this what he answers. Moses answered the people. “Don’t be afraid. “Stand firm and you will see the “deliverance the Lord
will bring you today. “The Egyptians you see today
you will never see again. “The Lord will fight for you; “you need only to be still.” One other thing I thing
is really fascinating about this passage is
that the Israelites want to go back to Egypt, they
want to go back into slavery. Their instinct is to go back,
so God has delivered them. A few verses earlier they’ve
marched boldly out of Egypt, but then when things start
to get scary, their immediate instinct is, “Well, let’s
just go back to what we know.” And sometimes what feels
like loss in our life is actually deliverance, so
if God’s providing a way out, even it starts to get hard,
even if it starts to get scary, God is like, “Keep
going, go into the future “that I’ve promised you. “I have plans for you,” says
the Lord, “plans to give “you hope and a future, to
prosper you and not to harm you. “Go forward.” And Isaiah says, “Forget
the former things, “don’t dwell on the past. “Look, I’m doing a brand new
thing, do you not see it, “do you not perceive it? “See how it springs up? “I’m making a way for
you in the wilderness. “I am making a way for you, go forward.” But we sometimes do have
that instinct, to just think, “Okay, we’re just gonna
stick with what we know, even if it’s not the most healthy,
even if it’s, even if it’s almost slavery, we’ll just
stay here, but God encourages us onward, and that’s actually
what the Lord says to Moses. In verse 15 he says, “Why
are you crying out to me? “Tell the Israelites to move on.” And it’s not even a rebuke, necessarily. It’s just like, we’re on
the same page, we agree, we talked about this. You guys, it’s time to go forward. And then He says, “Raise your
staff and stretch out your “hand over the sea to
divide the water so that the “Israelites can go through
the sea on dry ground.” And that’s fascinating because
God doesn’t need Moses. God never needed Moses to
part the sea but earlier, Moses had said to God,
“I’m not going anywhere “with these people until you tell me… “You told me to lead these
people, I’m not going anywhere “and until you tell
who’s gonna go with me. “Unless your presence goes
with me, I’m not going. “Now show me your glory.” He’s confident and he
demands that from God, “show me your glory,” and
God answers by saying, “Raise your staff, stretch
out your hand over the sea to “divide the water so that
the Israelites can go “through the sea on dry ground.” He partners with Moses. So, one funny thing I find
about this verse for me, is that God is saying to me, “I will fight for you, “all you need to do is stay calm.” So, this week, as I’ve been
preparing for the sermon, I asked some of my friends, do
you think I’m a calm person? (audience laughing) I like it that you know me so well. So yeah, so I asked one of
my friends on the phone, Do you think I’m a calm person? There is silence and
then there’s laughter. And I’m dog-sitting for Bruxy’s
dog George, he’s this giant, huge dog, he’s a little bear of a dog, while Bruxy and Nina are away. But Nina, Bruxy’s wife,
her dad is awesome. His name is Hans, he’s incredible,
he’s a theatre professor, he’s got his doctorate, he’s
one of those people that knows everything about poetry and
languages and history and fine wines and instrumental
classical music. He’s amazing. But he’s often there. He built the house they live
in, and so he was sitting for half an hour, we’ll
talk after I walk George. And I said to Hans, do you
think I’m a calm person? And Hans said, “I think
that you are enthusiasm.” And actually the root
word of ‘enthusiasm’… I have to find it. Ah! It’s enthusiasmos. So “en” means in, and “theo” means God. In God, but enthusiasmos is actually the creative part of God. I thought that was like
the nicest compliment ever, and then I said, but
do you think I’m calm? And he went like this, uh…(high note) and then it got higher,
uh…(higher note). Okay, I get it. So this is the point. So I’m like God, you created me this way, I’m not the most calm person,
I get excited about things, I feel things deeply, but
like God’s saying “stay calm.” Do you know that probably
the least helpful thing to say to someone when they’re
really upset about something is like, “Calm down.” It never works! The only thing worse than
that is like, “Relax.” Also bad, never helpful. So I was thinking about
that, just hold your peace, just hold your peace,
and there are times where I am like, Lord, I do not
have peace, I’m struggling. But the good news is that
we have Jesus, who is in the New Testament and the
New Covenant, and he says, “Peace I leave you; my peace I give you. “I don’t give to you as the world gives. “Do not let your hearts be
troubled and do not be afraid.” “My peace I give you.” Jesus gives us the gift of peace. It’s ours for the taking. So I’ve been thinking
as I’ve been preparing, what are the things that
make us surrender our peace? What are the things that
rob us of our peace? And what I came up with
is that, if the truth can set you free, the scripture
says the truth sets you free, then the opposite also must be true. Lies will keep you in bondage. And lies like you are forsaken,
lies like you are condemned, lies like you are alone. We need to constantly renew
our minds to the truth. There’s a few things that I
thought of that I think are, just from being a pastor
at the meeting house and talking to lots of people,
these are some of the things that I think sometimes
rob us of our peace. So the first one is shame. I just want to say that
if there’s anyone here, sitting here thinking, “If people actually knew
what I’ve done, or if people “actually knew the things
or the mistakes I’ve made, “or the things that are in
my life, they wouldn’t feel “the same way about me.” and so there ends up being
this like, hidden, kind of dark secret, private thing
that you hold, you even hold it away from God, but
it’s a constant source of, it just pulls you away from
your truth of who you are, of your own belovedness. And so if that is you this
morning, I just wanna tell you that 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that “If anyone is in Christ,
they are a new creation. “The old has gone, the new has come.” Your mistakes, they don’t define you. You can walk away from them at any minute. God says his compassions
are new every morning, every chance, every second is
a chance for a fresh start. You can leave those things
behind and, if there’s things in your life that you don’t
like, in this moment, right now, you can make the decision
to just walk away from it, and know that you are
forgiven, you are forgiven. Have you received God’s forgiveness? You need to, and then you
need to let this go, you need to move forward into the good
life that He has for you, that He’s planned for you. Yeah, yeah, scripture says
that your sins, your mistakes, they’re as far from you as
the East is from the West. And so you need to just
fight those internal feelings and receive, and claim
that truth that you are God’s beloved and He is so
pleased with you that you are a son or daughter of a
king, that you are co-heirs with Christ, that you have
every spiritual blessing in Christ, you have the mind of Christ. This is what scripture says. We are spiritually wealthy people. And just claim those and appropriate those truths for yourself. Even if they’re not
real in your experience right away, we believe
they’re true because the Bible says they’re true, and then
we pray that God will make it real in our experience,
but we hold onto those things. The next thing that I
thought about was fear. What things are you afraid of? Are you making decisions in
your life that are out of fear? Are you making decisions in
your life that are, move away from decisions, instead
of move to decisions? Are you replaying conversations? Are you trying to figure out
how to navigate your life so that you don’t get hurt? Scripture says that the
flesh and the spirit, they’re always at war. You can’t ever be operating
in both, and the flesh will be defined as a controller it’s your way of controlling things. It’s your way of meeting
your own perceived needs apart from God. The spirit is rest. The spirit is peace. But you can’t ever be
operating in both, and I am really, really clear in my
own mind when I’m operating in myself and when I’m trusting in God. Like there are times where I
walk the dog in the morning and I’m walking the dog
and my mind is going like a hundred miles a minute, and
I’m replaying conversations, and I’m thinking about
what I’m gonna say in the next conversation, and
all of a sudden I realize God has been there the
whole time being like, (nasal voice) “Katie,
Katie, what are you doing? “Please let me into this conversation.” God’s voice is nasal. (audience laughing) But it’s really like, okay, Lord, right. I’m trying to work this all
out in my effort, in my own sweaty, restless effort. I’m trying to fix things and
heal things and God’s like, “You can’t do any of that on
your own. You can’t do any of “that, but through me you can
do everything, so let me in, “let me partner with you, invite
me into this conversation.” Perfect love casts out fear. So for you again to claim
your own belovedness, and to be able to just
stay in God’s love for you, for that to be real in
your experience, for you to radically define yourself
as someone who is loved. Long before anyone else loved
or wounded you, you belonged to God and He belonged to
you, and you are safe, and you’re safely held at your center, and that’s the truth of your life. So for you just to be able
to stay in God’s love, that casts out fear. Finally, loss. And I just want to keep it
real about loss, because loss of a relationship, of a
marriage, of a job, of a spouse, of a parent, of a child. These are things that
just blow you right open. They blow a hole right
through the middle of you, and they blow up your
life, and you walk around feeling like, like emotionally sunburnt. Like your stomach hurts,
it’s literally physical pain sometimes with loss. Loss is sometimes like
literally walking through the valley of the shadow of
death, but God says that He is close to the brokenhearted,
and when we are at our most vulnerable, that
God is closest to us. And, the Psalms say about God, “Everything is falling
apart on me, Yahweh, “but God is faithful, but God
is present, but God is real.” One of the most difficult things
in my experience with loss is that it can be so isolating. Like whatever it is, if
it’s the end of a marriage, if it’s a diagnosis or whatever
it is, it just makes you, it feels so personal
and private and alone. And I think it’s really
important that we know that we are never alone. 365 times in scripture, it says, “Fear not, I am with you,” or some combination of those two. 365 times. That’s a lot of times, and
what that means to me is, I think God knows, He knows
us, and He knows what we need. That’s actually one time
for every day of the year. “You are not alone, don’t
be afraid, I am with you.” And this is the message that
reinforced, so when we’re feeling isolated and we’re
feeling really alone, you’re not alone. Yeah, God is close to the brokenhearted. “Even when I walk through the
valley of the shadow of death” the darkest valley “I will fear no evil, for
you are with me, your rod “and your staff, they comfort me.” This may not apply to everyone here. Maybe you’re not in a
place where you’re hurting, in which case that’s great! But maybe you’re actually
supporting someone who is hurting because scripture says that
we belong to each other. It calls us to bear one another’s burdens. It says rejoice with those
who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn, grieve with those who grieve. We’re not intended to just
be on our own, you know, we need to take care of each
other, we belong to each other. The Greek word for care is cara and it literally means “to
grieve,” so to care for someone is actually to grieve with
them, which is really pretty uncomfortable for most of us. We would rather probably just make a meal or send like a vitamin
regimen or something, but to actually go in and
just stay with someone in their powerlessness,
in their helplessness, and just be with them and love them and do whatever they
need, and to be the person who is a minister of
peace when someone else doesn’t have peace. To go in and stay and
offer that, and just remain with someone, that’s
what we’re called to do. Carry each other’s burdens. And finally, Jesus himself
grieves deeply in the Bible. He suffers. He is acquainted with
sorrow, He understands grief. So I actually didn’t come up
with list, I heard a pastor talking about it and I
just really liked it. It impacted me, so I want
to share it with you, but it’s in your program. Jesus gives us six examples
of how to handle suffering, and this is from the night
before he was crucified. If you want, you can
also turn to Matthew 26, verse 37 to 39. Jesus chose some close
friends to be with him. “He took Peter and the two
sons of Zebedee along with him, “and he began to be
sorrowful and troubled.” 2. He trusted them with his
most personal, private pain. Not everyone, just a few close friends. “He said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with
sorrow to the point of death. “Stay here and keep watch with me.” He asked them to stay with
him, and the root word of ‘stay’ is meno, but it actually means to endure, endure with me. Another word is, be present with me. Jesus poured his heart out
to his Father in prayer. “Going a little farther, he
fell with his face to the ground “and he prayed, ‘My Father, if
it is possible, may this cup “be taken from me.” If it is possible, please
don’t let this happen. I would rather, I mean, he
was anguished to the point of death, sorrow to the
point, unbelievable grief. “Please, please, don’t let this
be what happens to my life, “if there is any other way.” And yet, in the next verse he says, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” He says, “I trust you with my life. “I’ll give my life into your hands.” The last verse that I want
to read with you is from Hebrews 12, verse 2. “For the joy set before him,
Jesus endured the cross, “scorning its shame, and he
sat down at the right hand “of the throne of God.” He endured the cross for
the joy set before him, scorning its shame. Death is not the end of the
story, and sometimes we get to places in our life
when we think there is no positive ending here,
I don’t see a way forward, I don’t see good days ahead. But Jesus changed that with
the cross because he loved you. There is no greater love, and we sometimes go to the
cross, we sometimes have deaths in our life, and we
end up going to the cross, but our hope is that
there is the resurrection, that God loves us, that
we are never alone. “Peace I leave with you,
my peace I give to you. “I don’t give to you as the world gives.” “Don’t let your hearts be
troubled, don’t be afraid.” Let me pray for us. Dear Jesus, I thank you
for every person here in this room today. Lord, I pray for anyone who
is experiencing anxiety, for anyone who has worries
and heaviness in their heart, for people who are feeling uncertain, that the future seems
unsteady, unresolved. Whatever weight that people
are carrying, whatever fear, Lord, any part that feels
brokenhearted, God I pray that each person would know that
you are so, so close to them. Thank you, Lord, that you,
Jesus, that you yourself are our peace, that only you are the thing that never, ever changes,
that you hold us safely in the palm of your
hand, that you love us, that you never leave us, and
that underneath everything that happens in our life
are your everlasting arms. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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