Last week I stood in the food court of the Seattle Center waiting for my sandwich to be prepared. As I walked by one area, a piece of graffitied stone stood beside me, encased on 4 sides with a wooden framework but the edges of the stone showing and left ragged. I thought it was unusual that they brought their graffiti into the building instead of keeping it on the outside. The graffiti was quite unusual, it was bright colored and not laced with gang symbols or gang hieroglyphics but it had a ladder painted on it going toward the top and then peace symbols and other designs that weren’t random but very specifically done. I then noticed a plaque at the side of the stone—this wasn’t any large piece of rock sitting there…it was a piece of the Berlin Wall. I had to touch it and feel the history of it.
Two sides, East and West, uniting and meeting for the first time in 29 years; it was a symbol of the Cold War. The Berlin Wall was erected in the night of August 13, 1961.
It was a weekend and most Berliners slept while the East German government begun to close the border. In the early morning of that Sunday most of the first work was done: the border to West Berlin was closed. The East German troups had begun to tear up streets and to install barbed wire entanglement and fences through Berlin.
The first concrete elements and large square blocks were used first on August 15, 1961. Within the next months the first generation of the Berlin Wall was build up: a wall consisting of concrete elements and square blocks.
June 1962 in order to prevent from escaping to the
A second Wall was build in West.
The first Wall was improved during the next years and it’s difficult to distinguish between the first and the second generation of the Wall.
These two first generations were removed by the third generation beginning about 1965. The third generation of Wall consisted of concrete slabs between steel girder and concrete posts with a concrete sewage pipe on top of the Wall.
From the year 1975 the third generation of Wall was replaced by the fourth generation. New concrete segments were used which were easy to build up and were more resistant to breakthroughs and to environmental pollutions.
171 people were killed or died attempting to escape at the Berlin Wall between August 13, 1961 and November 9, 1989.
Walls. They come in all shapes and sizes. They keep things in and they keep things out. They are made of wood, stone, rock and clay. They offer protection and they offer safety.
The walls David speaks of in Psalm 18:2,
“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn  of my salvation, my stronghold “, are the walls of protection. The mighty fortress…the rock that will keep us safe.
But the walls that Jesus speaks of in Mark 13:1,2:As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!"
2"Do you see all these great buildings?" replied Jesus. "Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.", are the walls that keep people out.
We all have our walls and I am not talking literal walls. I am talking about our figurative walls. The walls that keep us safe and keep people out. Nations have them, schools have them and yes, we people have them.
There is a song that was popular Promise Keeper song called Let the Walls Come Down. The song’s theme is that we must come together and let our personal walls fall down, so we can reach out and that Christ can reach in. So often we put up the walls to keep us safe and sheltered but they end up being barricades that keep people away from us; that push people away.
We are often like the Berlin Wall building one layer upon another in the hopes that we will keep ourselves safe. When in reality if we believe in God’s faithfulness; if we believe that He is our Rock and our Salvation, we need not build those walls.
Let us continue in our understanding of Psalm 18.
25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, 26 to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd. 27 You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty. 28 You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. 29 With your help I can advance against a troop ; with my God I can scale a wall. 30 As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.
31 For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God?
David is writing this after he escaped death from Saul’s hand. He is rejoicing that his enemy has not taken his life. David has the understanding of who and what God is. He know that God is his Rock and his Light.
Right now it seems that every time we pick up the paper or turn on the television, we are hearing of another life lost in Iraq. Or we are hearing of more troops being sent overseas. We all know of someone who is in the military.
And every time I see and I hear of troops going overseas or a helicopter that has gone down or a life lost in a bombing my mind echoes with the words of Jesus that we read today…
. 8Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.
Do we know what will transpire in the future? No. Do we need to know? No. What we need to know that we cannot shut ourselves away from what might be or could be. Because we are afraid or unsure we cannot wall ourselves away from the world. We have to be out there in life, not hiding away from life. We have to be aware that life will happen--all aspects of life—the good, the bad and the ugly.
Sometimes the reality of life hurts. We lose loves ones, we argue with a friend, we say words to one another that we shouldn’t, we strike out physically or emotionally at loved ones, we hurt because of physical frailities, we suffer from emotional scars and pain….that my friends is life. Life is the good and the bad. Life is hurts and joys. You have to have one with the other.
Sometimes we want to hole up and hide. We find it is easier to deal with ourselves and not have to deal with others. We find our dark cave of safety. There are clinical diseases for the extreme cases of this—agoraphobia, the fear of leaving one’s home…in fact as I was looking up the proper spelling of agoraphobia, I found a website that listed over 500 different phobias and fears…from ones I had heard of to ones that were surprising and almost laughable and hopefully here I won’t offend anyone…
Arachibutyrophobia — peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth
You wouldn’t been able to grow up in my household with that fear
Bolshephobia — Bolsheviks
Not sure how many people have the fear of the Bosheviks
Didaskaleinophobia — going to school
This is a phobia every child has
Leukophobia — the color white
I am not sure how you can get away from the color white in every day life
Pentheraphobia — mother-in-law
What every husband has
Xyrophobia — razors
This phobia come out always at hunting season
Polyphobia — many things
This cover a lot and doesn’t say much
Please know that I am making light of these and that I do understand phobias but I also know that sometimes phobias are used as excuses and ways to hide or ways to put up walls.
David did hide in a cave on a few occasions but David came back out to face life and to rejoice in the life that he was given. David didn’t stay inside hiding away not facing life’s challenges because the cave just felt safer. And David was probably safer there than out where Saul could find him.
Can you imagine David being hunted by his best friend’s Dad and not just his best friends Dad but the King of Israel? David was definitely a marked man. Knowing that Saul wants him dead, knowing Saul is threatened by David. David sits in the cave watching Saul. Can you imagine the hurt and betrayal David felt? But David had something going for him that Saul did not…David had God’s favor. David was chosen by God whereas Saul turned away.
How many times have you turned away? Have you ever turned away and thought, “God won’t want me back. I am not good enough…I don’t have what he needs…I am a disappointment. I really fell down there.”
Aww my sweet friends…he always always wants you back and he will always welcome you in his warm embrace. Look at what David did…seduced Bathsheba, had her husband killed, lost his son and still God wanted him back.
In my own life I have put up walls. Believe me, I am a master brick builder. I have built walls around myself that have put the Berlin Wall to shame. When I was a child, it was easier to build the walls and retreat behind them than to admit I was abused. As an adult it was easier to build up walls than to let people know that I was scarred and wounded. It was easier to believe that everyone saw me as something and someone I was not than to let them see me wounded and frail.
I had put up such walls that I was only allowing God in here and there. I was only giving sections of my life to God. I was giving him the East side and keeping to the West and heaven forbid if we tried to cross over that wall.
One day though…the wall came down and I found an incredible peace and strength and hope. I let God become my Rock and my fortress my very present help in trials and tribulations.
See I let God lead and let him take control. I gave up control of my life to God. Now I admit I just need to learn to give up more control…
There are a lot of things in today’s world that makes us want to put up walls and hide. There is violence, war, poverty, hunger, disease, natural disasters, unnatural disasters, hate and fear…and this list could go on...
It hurts to see the world like this but Jesus tells us that these are birth pains. And birth hurts. Ask any woman in this room who has borne a child how it feels. And they will give you a brief description or go into the full gory details of their 52 hour labor. Bill Cosby describes birth pains as this to his fellow male species, “Pull your top lip all the way over your head, never stopping until you reach your feet.” A doctor once said that a man passing a kidney stone comes close to experience the pain of child birth.
A woman who experiences the birth pains knows something…the pain is well worth it for the end result. When we hold that child in our arm and they look at us for the first time…what sweet bliss.
The world is in the throes of birth pains. We are struggling, we are hurting and we are hiding behind wall after wall after wall. There are nations that don’t even know the things we know about God and Jesus and Christianity. The Christian faith and denominations aren’t growing rapidly. And we think, “well the missionaries better get more active…or that pastor best be getting to work.” But my friends…you too are missionaries…you too are pastors…let your walls down and reach out.
Do people you know in your lives outside this church know that God is your Rock and your fortress? Do they know that you are breaking down walls and barriers to reach out and share Christ’s love and glory.
Here at Memorial Christian Church we are in birthing pains but wait till you see us grow. We are breaking down walls and we are making a difference. That is a reality. Can we do more…you betcha…
But we are starting and we are letting the walls come down and we are peering through the broken spots and seeing the possibilities on the other side. In Christ there is no east or west only a forever without barrier without walls and filled with amazing hope.
So I ask you today…
In your personal life…let the walls come down
In your church life…let the walls come down
In your spiritual life…let the walls come down