Pastor's Note

One Thing.

I hope you have been able to follow our Songs of the Soul Lenten journey.
The readings & podcasts & devotional about songs that have impacted your faith.
It’s like GS’s greatest hits, & let me tell you, the playlist on Spotify is definitely one of a kind!
Probably the only playlist where you will hear Willie Nelson followed by Ariana Grande, followed by Boston and then a 16th century hymn.

If you were compiling a greatest hits of the Bible,
Psalm 27 would definitely make that list…
The lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
of whom shall I be afraid?
One thing I ask [is] to dwell in the house of the Lord forever,
I believe I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord, be strong, take courage, wait for the Lord

Psalm 27 is a Trust Psalm,
A psalm of Ding David,
But in reading it we see it jumps all over the place between TRUST…
And prayers for deliverance… and lament… IT mirrors the challenges of FAITH.

Which, like our lives, can be almost cyclical in nature,
WE PRAISE… WE DOUBT… It is the fabric of our very existence.

Ps 27 as a whole… expresses HOPE in midst of fear and violence and doubt,
In Biblical terms we’d package it as a Psalm of HOPE in the midst of Darkness
Which makes it especially important during the season of Lent.
A time when we are called to have open and honest conversations with our God.

And this WRETCH of a King David…
Who last week we learned has the distinction of being the only character in the Bible able to break all 10 Commandments in just 1 chapter (1 chapter & 5 verses).

King David was not a nice guy, but… at the very least…
Had perfected open and honest conversations with God.
Throughout his life he continually lives in turmoil…
Plagued by enemies, constantly at war…
Living in the midst of violence, day after day.
If there’s anything WE can relate to in our modern world it’s VIOLENCE.
WE have created, the collective WE,
This is Lent so let’s be honest, WE ALL play a role,
We have created an extremely violent world,
This week… was, just another horrific example.

It’s a world David would fit right into… TERRORISM!!! WAR!!! VIOLENCE!!!
A world that asks us the same question King David pondered over 3000 years ago,
Is my BELIEF in God… stronger than my FEAR of the world???

You know I was amazed at how many of the songs on our Lenten playlist that I knew by heart, word for word,
When something moves us, a song or a quote, our brains remember.
President Roosevelt, speaking about FEAR at his 1st Inaugural address,
And you can probably finish this quote said…
The only thing we have to FEAR is… (fear itself).

That is the snippet we always hear, but the entire quote is…
The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror.
It’s more pronounced when we remember he was speaking to a nation in the grips of the Great Depression.

So often in our faith and in our existence, we express our degree of blessings based on the good fortune in our lives.
It’s an idea mainly found in the Western World & Western church,
But if you notice God doesn’t ride in on a white horse and pluck David out of his circumstances.

David doesn’t ask him to either.
God shows himself to be a faithful parent,
Beyond being our light and our salvation,
God is shown as someone we can count on, ever present in times of trouble.

Jesus described it in our gospel as a Hen who gathers her chicks under her wings.
A motherly image for God, a very intentional feminine image of God,
Because last time I checked roosters don’t gather.
They do a lot of things but no brooding!

And I’m sure you’ve all seen the picture of the footprints in the sand side by side,
And then the next picture has only one set of footprints,
And someone’s looking down and asking God,
You know, Lord, why, during this difficult time…Why did you abandon me?
And the Lord says, I didn’t abandon you, I carried you.

Which is a beautiful picture, and kind of represents what’s going on here in Ps 27,
But I think this is a more realistic picture of our FAITH
The Lord saying, this is the point where I was dragging you.
Maybe by the hair, or digging in our heals… This is FAITH!!!
This makes sense to me,
This is FEAR, this is SHAME, this is DOUBT.
This is calling on God to just come BLESS me and get me out of this mess.

And God saying NOPE, I’m here and I love you like a Son…
I love you like a daughter… and because of that you’re going to fix this…
Or face this, or dive into this uncomfortableness and I’m going to be right here dragging you if I need to.

God isn’t bothered by your DOUBTS and FEARS,
They’re not held against you… BECAUSE of course they’re nothing new.
And neither is the question, whether our FAITH is bigger than our FEAR?
The God of creation is there for you and for this community to shine a light on our path, headlights shining into our future together.

Martin Luther confessed that theologizing about the nature of God will not sustain us in times of trouble,
But rather, it is the CONFESSION that this God is for ME,
The stronghold of MY life,
That is the crucial part… That is Psalm 27.

And a second question that begs to be asked of each of us is,
If you had one wish,
A genie in a lamp, or better yet a four-leaf clover & you had one wish…
What would you wish for???

And make it good, you only have 1, got it???
Don’t cheat just because you are in church OK,
God knows that too!!!
What was the 1 THING that popped into your head when I asked the question?
If we’re being honest and open with one another,
Many times, our biggest wish is something that will negate our biggest fear.

And for David that 1 THING is pretty simple.
David had 1 wish,
To be in God’s presence, to live or dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
In the midst of the FEAR & VIOLENCE & DOUBT… His enemies all around…
1 WISH… to be in the HOUSE OF THE LORD.
When polled most Christians said they think of a church sanctuary when hearing the phrase, the “House of the Lord.”

Which is fine… but when we walk out today,
It’s important to remember as we leave God’s house,
We do not go alone.
Whether there are two sets of footprints,
Or were being carried or dragged out into the world.
We don’t leave alone.

And we are called to return again to this house each week,
To share and be together in community,
To be fed and encouraged and lifted up and sent back into the world,
But during this season of Lent, we are also called into open and honest conversations with God and one another.

Being open and honest about where we are… on track in life,
And where our lives are quite literally a train wreck.
We are called to remember that wherever we find ourselves,
We are in God’s house,
Wherever we find ourselves, we are home… God is with us!!!

One author describes Lent as a trying time.
It probes deep into our souls, taking stock of what lies within.
Lent calls us to follow our hearts and seek out God,
Only to find God has been alongside us the whole time.

And despite the darkest valleys in our lives,
Despite the FEAR, the VIOLENCE and DOUBTS we all experience,
The psalmist proclaims: This I believe, that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Lent is a recognition of each of our own mortality,
But it’s also recognizing that it’s not just about the afterlife,
It’s about having the courage & the strength to TRUST in God’s ability to make a difference in the world,
To make a difference in each and every one of our lives.

Lent is a recognition that DOUBT is a part of FAITH,
That DISAPPOINTMENT is a part of LIFE.
And having a FAITH that is bigger than our FEAR,
TRUSTING and BELIEVING that God can and will help us through even the darkest valleys,

THAT FAITH doesn’t require you to hold back your tears or hide your anger from God,
It doesn’t discourage us from crying out that we want more from God,
Of expressing our deep longing and praying for more of God’s presence in our lives.

So, with that in mind I encourage you to follow along with all of our Lenten resources, our readings and devotional and podcast and worship opportunities.
We don’t promise that it will change your life,
But it can change the way you think about your relationship with God,
It can change the way you talk to God,
How you pray to God.

We’ve still got a long road to get to Easter,
But on our journey, we are reminded to look for God along the way,
To expect God’s goodness and mercy to be with us and a part of this community.
If you’ve participated in any events at GS past couple of weeks from our Shrove Tuesday pancakes to the Chili cookoff and pie auction, Boy Scout food drive, FMSC…
Some of this communities Greatest Hits!!!

I hope you’ve recognized God in the Land of the Living.
In this community… I most certainly have.
Wait for the Lord, be strong & have courage on this Lenten journey,
Wait for the Lord & Expect to see God’s goodness each & every day.