The Map

SERMON                                                                                              
JANUARY 2, 2022                                                                                 
THE MAP                                                                                          
PASTOR JEAN OWENS    
jowens11@aol.com            
607-273-5682
 

Christmas Day 2021 had finally arrived. The grandkids had been counting down in anticipation of the long-awaited events of the season for what seemed like months. Late Christmas morning my daughter Ann and I packed our things in the car and headed to Christmas dinner with the family. All the traditional goodies awaited us. They seemed particularly tasty this year.
As the meal started to wind down, I started the count down. Ten minutes! Finish eating, I called out. Five minutes! One minute!
I started for the door. “Thanks for cooking Mary and Brandon. It was delicious! Load up!” Getting my shoes on, I exited the building heading for the car with a trail of people behind me. I was excited. I had planned this for several months and the time had arrived.
I had given the grandkids a few small things for Christmas but the main event was at hand. Three other brave adults were going along. My plan, to take my seven grandsons, aged 14 to 6, to show them Washington D.C., our nation’s capital.
As their grandma, I wanted to instill in them an understanding of how this country was formed. Sure, I had been teaching them about our country’s history over the years, but this was different. An in person, in your face, personal experience can bring an understanding more powerful than hearing about it.
For the next three days, we adventured through the historic buildings, streets and landmarks. We saw original documents at the National Archives of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, and many other hand written documents and notes in the script of those who came before us to lead and form this country into a democratic government.
The grave markers at Arlington National Cemetery brought home the understanding that freedom isn’t free.
They got to fly a flight simulator at the National Air and Space Museum, check out the Hope Diamond at the American Museum of Natural History, and the Giant Panda and the prairie dog town at the National Zoo.
Hands down, their favorite experience was traveling on the top open deck of the tour bus. I will admit. The view from that upper open deck was spectacular. On one dark night, however, I got to experience a truly unique, upfront and personal, in my face kind of thing, when the branches from the cherry trees cracked me in the head a few times. The grandkids thought it was hilarious. One of my grandsons asked me if I couldn’t see the branches coming because I was old.
Each of us were given ear buds to hear about everything we passed by. We traveled for around six hours throughout Washington D.C. at night to see the lighted up Lincoln Memorial, the Capital and the White House, the huge decorated Christmas trees and street decorations. During the day, we saw the block long buildings housing all the government agencies and services, many memorials and statues, the Potomac River, Pennsylvania and Constitutional Avenues.
However, being in an unfamiliar megalopolis can be a little daunting. Particularly when you are responsible for your own safety and most importantly, the safety of seven, all-American, energized balls of energy with absolutely zero knowledge of the hazards to be found in the streets of a large city. I must have counted to seven (the number of kids with us), 10,000 times over the course of those three days having some frantic moments when I only counted to five or six.
Times have changed as we all know. The concept of having a map in hand to help guide you through obstacles and hazards and stay on your appointed course, seems to have been lost.
Maps are not to be had any place any more. It appeared to me that many people just rushed headlong in an effort to find their way. I found myself asking repeatedly, where is the map? The only response I ever got was use the app on your phone. A few times, I would find “a map” on my phone. It was useless. The entire screen is only a couple of inches no matter how you look at it. There is just so much information to be had on an area that size IF you can see it with the sun’s glare on the screen.
I repeated like a broken record, I will never leave home without a map ever again.
The maps located ever so often at bus stops were also useless. Although the maps were large and had a lot of information on them, not one of them had the little star on them. You know the star that says, You Are Here. It does you no earthly good to have a map if you don’t know where you are located.
My conclusion is, many people don’t understand what a map is about.
Let me tell you about the greatest map that exists. That is the Bible. God’s Holy Word.
Psalm 23: 3,4 He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
The Bible is a road map to Heaven. Live by its words and you’ll never stray from the path. Ignore its words and you’ll wander far away from God’s plan for your life. Even better, the author of the Bible will travel with you. Look for Him. Listen to Him. Read the Bible and you will never need another map.
Isaiah 48: 8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.
Please don’t travel throughout life without the map God has given us.
Psalm 119: 105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
and a light unto my path.

When I feel afraid, think I’ve lost my way,
still you’re there right beside me,
and nothing will I fear as Iong as you are near.
Please be near me to the end.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
and a light unto my path.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
and a light unto my path.

I will not forget your love for me,
and yet my heart forever is wandering.
Jesus, be my guide and hold me to your side,
and I will love you to the end.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
and a light unto my path.

Father, shine your light on my path. Your light exposes evil. In you there is no darkness. Show me the way to go oh Lord. Amen.

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