Thoughts of the week 6

Hello Everyone.  I was asked by several people to share my manuscript from last Sunday, so I do so…with you reading it, knowing that it is usually only for my use, my thought and speech pattern, etc….NOT grammatically correct.  NOT written with proper punctuation, etc….  but as a reference of what I used and worked off of, but again, NOT words that I used when the spirit came upon me in the pulpit, so not word for word, by any means.

In all, we continue fighting, we continue the growth and good work we have just started to see results upon, and we go about being the best people we can be for God….loving all people.  Blessings!

 

Psalm 40

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.

Blessed is the one
who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.[b]
Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.

 

The word of God….

A cry for deliverance, and whenever it comes; a professing of devotion that not only tells us that God hears us, but that God will save us when in distress.  God is the only one.  “Look cries,” out the psalmist, “He took me from the mud and the pit” and set me on firm ground….

When I think of mud, I think of the thick brown and black, mineral rich, slop that I played as a youth in.  I see a small child who wanders, after a hard rain, into a puddle to splash around and get dirty for fun of it, but then who’s eyes get large and says “uh oh!” because they realize the puddle is larger and the mud thicker than they thought.  Maybe soooo thick, that they can’t get out.  Panic!

Historians say that the pit referred to here, is one of the pits that were abandoned wells, or cisterns, which no longer had enough good drinking water in them, but are left with the mud and muck of the ground, deep down.  Did you know that it used to be that the old wells of the past, were used to put prisoners in, as they would be too slick and slimy, too deep and dark to get out of?  The psalmist could easily be someone like Joseph, of the book of Genesis, when Joseph’s brothers throw him into a cistern and tell the father that they believe that a ferocious animal has eaten him.

But God got me out and put me on solid ground once more.  A solid rock for our feet, a place therefore to sing about; an elation that causes us to burst into thanksgiving and to glorify God.

What’s the first thing we see when a rescue of someone take place on tv? What’s the first thing that every trapped coal miner, gold digger, or cave-lost soul does when they come out?  Thank God, do they not!? Nothing is so different today than it was then, if trapped in a well.  Fear is fear and safe is safe.

Crying out to God when in fear and pain, crying out to God when in need of God’s ear when we need God the most, and then celebrating by crying out in ecstasy that God hears us and saves us…. Its timeless, its normal, its expected, we might say.

Verse 3:  Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.

Put our trust in God alone…The psalmist is clear that we are to know the power and might of God, but above all, that we are to trust in God…..and then we will be blessed…once we trust.

Once we trust in God and only God, not ourselves and our own hard work, and once we glorify and sing of God’s mighty works, we will know the many blessings…Not just one time of blessings, but the many blessings, that God will give us.

Many….are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us, God….the many deeds you have done for us are too many to number.  None can compare with you, Lord!

 

Well, well, well.  Did many of you feel like you were living in the midst of Psalm 40 and many the blessings this week? Don’t know about you, but I had to challenge myself to list the blessings of the week, because of one large let down, or non-blessings, shall we say, that pressed in too heavily on my heart.

How many of you live-streamed at all to see what was going on at the Special General Session of our church this week?

When the high priority list came out, and the One Church Plan that would have allowed gay marriages to be officiated and for clergy to freely say they are gay, was on the bottom of the short list, I gulped, but tried not to worry.

Then when the Traditional Plan, that would not allow these things to occur was sent to be voted on, like a bill is sent from committee onto Congress, I kept starting to keep track of the percentages.  53%, 54%…ugh.

So small of a disparity…so large a difference in opinion of how to interpret the Bible…..So small of a number of people we were off, but so large of a pill to swallow.  A big, horse-sized, painful pill we were left to swallow!

But upon the last day, with each side of the coin, supposedly brothers and sisters in Christ, making accusations and noises of happiness when the other side lost, I started feeling more than just a need to call out to God.  I felt abandoned in that pit, but I saw that I was not alone, we were many.

We hadn’t faced it in words before, and the Bishops in charge were trying their best to keep the word from coming into play….but we each were seeing and hearing the other side as our enemies….not our friends.

Our brothers and sisters in Christ, over an important topic for sure, but only on one topic of many that it could have been, got people to plant the sign of “enemy” upon the other, and truth was, I had my sign ready too.  Even my closest of friends and family, they were the enemy, in those harshest of moments.  I knew better but my emotions were high.  (pause)

They say that time heals all wounds.  I’m not sure about that, but time does seem to help give new perspective, so we are able to let go and let God.  Time allows trust to grow, that whatever it is that pains us most, is in the hands of the Lord, who knows us and hears us, and yes; who knows the timing of all things.

But there is something more….something Jesus taught us that we need to remember today, I think.  And time is not a factor when it comes to this lesson….(pause)

It is hard to recall when in the chaos, but was it not our Savior, Christ Jesus, who in his teaching here on earth, taught us to love our enemy!?  Love and pray for those that persecute you…that cause you that pain and those sleepless nights….Love and pray for them, not just ourselves, said Jesus.  Love and pray for your enemies, He says in Matthew 5, and he was just as much in the midst of chaos and turmoil as we feel ourselves in today.

Think of when Jesus was preaching. The Romans ruled over the Jewish people, like hawks watching for the poor field mouse trying to come out of its home to fetch dinner.  Ready to pounce!  Ready to punish in the blink of an eye, ready to take their money in percentages that were unconscionable, ready to take advantage of their women when not protected, and yes, ready to crucify any of them on a cross, in a public area where all had to walk, limp bodies decaying, to cast fear and show domination over them.  Yet Jesus says to his people, love your enemies.

 

Listen with me to what else Jesus said….Mark 5:45-47

… (God) causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?

Jesus calls us to pause in the midst of our great pain, as we cry out to God, like the psalmist to be heard.  God will pull us back onto solid ground ….ground of trust in the Lord and ground of love, not hate…..It may take more than a few days for the anger to diminish, but the instructions to us as Christians are already in our hands; as is the ability to plan for the future, and still dream of the changes that are so very, very close to happening.  But we have to love our enemy as we go along.

I started to realize a day or two ago, that God has allowed the Traditional Plan and those that truly, with all their hearts and souls believe that they have interpreted correctly the Bible, to temporarily win the vote, but that they are literally the voices of only a moment, and we must not let them be seen as the enemy forever.  For God loves us all is the message of reconciliation and of peace, of love, grace and mercy, that all people, at all times, need.  Brothers and Sisters, we are a reconciling church…not just in name and in order to love some, but to reconcile with and love all!  So we are called upon to do it and do it well.  We would expect it from others if we had won this vote and God expects it from all of us, who temporarily have lost the vote.

So where do we stand?….We stand in unity in the love of Christ, as the body of Christ’s church, and as a family that does not agree on everything….But we do not stand as enemies…A functional family is a loving and forgiving family….God’s family. We are all part of God’s family…and as my kids remind me when I get angry at others in my biological family, I taught them that God and family comes first.  Unity of the family, God’s family first, He says.

Then time gave me an epiphany of sorts…..Perhaps, because we have all been praying, for so very long a time, for God to make a way for us to stay as The United Methodist Church, knowing we have split before over the issue of slavery and that was not an answer, so we came together again….maybe, just maybe we are in the same place with this issue, to see, l in this moment, that we are to remain together as a body of Christ because that is God’s way.  Loving one another through it all.

And maybe, just maybe, we are to learn something before the next General Conference, which after all is 6 months after anything passed this week would take effect…..maybe we are to learn to love the one that seems hypocritical in their discernment of scripture, as we seem to them, at different times?

Maybe, just maybe, we are to learn how to love the one who does not see with the same eyes, and does not apply today’s culture to the discernment of the Word, like we continually have to try to love our own family members that do not spend money the same way, do not see abortion or capital punishment the same way, or any other issue that wrenches so hard at our hearts. For they want love and acceptance for who they are in the moment…..just as we fight for love and acceptance of who we are, in this moment?

Maybe, just maybe, we are to love the one who seems to stick with the letter of the laws, and not the grace of the actions that were meant to go with the words, because our actions would not seem so gracious to them and our laws, even when we manage to get them to what we want, may or may not seem so gracious to the next generations….if not on this topic, guaranteed on another!

Sit and be still, glorify the Lord, not only in good times, but in bad, then trust in the Lord to save, not just your soul for eternity, but to bring us out of bad times when God sees best…. And love all people!….Love all people….even your enemies, says the Holy Spirit….even if it seems impossible to do and feels like it hurts you to your quick to do so.  Time can help, perspective can help, and God can create change and heal.  We never should be surprised at God’s timing, for it shows us, once again, that God is God and we are not.

Brothers and Sisters, though we live in divided and harsh times, so did Jesus and then the apostles…Yet we still have the same commandments to live by and we still have the same gracious and loving God as we ever did.

Today I wish to leave us with some thoughts about loving one’s enemy. As you will recall, we are not the first to sit as we do today, and we will not be the last.  Remember with me, please.

Play video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTsa8sDYzuw  MLK bombing of house.

 

Prayer.

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