Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Ragtag Armada

The miracle at Dunkirk

If you can forgive me for being the history geek I am, I’d like to share with you one of my favorite stories.  It’s 1940, and the Nazis look unstoppable. They’ve easily conquered France, who at the time had the largest army in Europe.  The Dutch and the Belgians have already surrendered.  The United States isn’t interested in getting into another foreign war, and isn’t ready to fight in the first place.  All that is left between Germany and total domination of the hemisphere is Great Britain.  And right now, the British army is one step from total annihilation.  A quarter million British troops, plus 100,000 allies, are trapped on a beach in a place called Dunkirk.  The German army is on one side, and the waters of the English Channel are on the other.   The Royal Navy has only enough ships to save around 17,000.  Churchill has already told the House of Commons to prepare for “hard and heavy tidings.”  Suddenly, a strange sight appears in the Channel.  Fishing boats, tugboats, sailboats, yachts and ferries, all driven by civilians, have come to the rescue.  Before German commanders can move in for what once looked like an easy victory, 338,000 soldiers are rescued by this ragtag armada.  Quite simply put, when the forces of evil were about to win, ordinary people stepped up and saved the day…and the war.    

Now let me tell you another story; one I like even more than that one.  Jesus Christ is nearing the end of His time on Earth.  He has come to die for the sins of mankind, to defeat sin and death and Hell with one self-sacrificing act of heroic love and unimaginable power.  But dying on the Cross and rising again the third day aren’t the end of His work.  He knows that someone will need to take the message of His love to the world.  Someone will have to show people how to receive this amazing gift, and teach them to follow Him into eternal and abundant life.  To put it in terms of our previous story, humanity was on the verge of annihilation.  We were trapped between the forces of evil and the bondage of our own sin.  Jesus chose a small group of true believers to be the spark that started a movement that would save the world.  This is the story of how that started: Matthew 16:13-19   

We're in a series right now about the amazing impact Jesus made, and continues to make, on this world.  This Sunday, we'll talk about His creation of the Church, and the way that decision changed the world.  This is a famous passage.  Some scholars have called v. 18 the most controversial verse in the entire New Testament.  So come ready to tackle some tough issues and grapple with the plans God has for you in His work. 

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