Season After Pentecost: The Psalms Passage – Preacher and Seek speak out

Preacher: “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.
Seeker: “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, those he redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.”

Preacher: We are spread throughout the globe, beloved listeners. On every continent there are people of good hearts and of strong faith who mourn what has befallen their brothers and sisters. We pray to our Lord that those are hurt, in pain, and whose lives have been devastated might be gathered up in the Lord’s comfort and grace.

Seeker: “Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to an inhabited town; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress; he led them by a straight way, until they reached an inhabited town.”

Preacher: But it is not just the task of the Lord’s, beloved listener, to gather up those who are hurt and broken. It is our task to! We are the hands and feet of the Lord. We carry within us the capacity to show similar love and carrying as the Lord does. No, we cannot heal as the Lord does, and sadly we cannot love with the same consistent and eternal love as the Lord does, but we can bring that love to those we meet.
Seeker: “Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. For he satisfies the thirsty, and the hungry he fills with good things.” (Psalm 107:1-9)

Preacher: What more can I say to you, beloved listener? What can I say that will move your heart? That will move your spirit and soul? How much longer must I and those who speak and believe as I do preach to you – until love covers the world? As long as one act of violence, one instance of hatred is carried out, our mission will not be over. We must preach and exhort love until it rules and guides each heart!

Seeker: Let those who are wise give heed to these things, and consider the steadfast love of the Lord.” (Verse 43) Selah!

Season After Pentecost: The Psalms Passage – Prayer for the Restoration of God’s Favor

LORD, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people; you pardoned all their sin.

Selah
You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger.

(Psalms 85:1-3)

I can not take any credit for the title of this, beloved reader, because it is what the NRSV has for the heading for this psalm. I can take credit, however, for deciding it is a good one for me to use. Just as we can take no credit for the grace and blessing that God bestows on us, but we can take credit for passing on that grace and blessing to others. And in light of the recent events in our world, I think it would be a fine thing to give grace and blessing to each life in our global community. It seems there has been far too little of that going one. And, it is a fine thing, a very very fine thing, to pray for restoration for a our global community.

Certainly there is every appearance and fact that not everyone in our global community wishes to live in harmony with each other person. The events fo the past two weeks give ample proof of that. I can just imagine what Preacher and Seeker would have to say. And it may not be to farfetched a thing to say they are in mourning over the recent events – not to mention what might happen between the time I write this and you read it.

Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us.” (Verse 4)

God’s favor is something that our world desperately needs. It may not be something that some think others deserve, whatever the reason, rationale, or (dare I say it) bias/prejudice. But I tell you . . . exhort you . . . assure you . . . that God’s favor is for all. The writer of psalms may have thought God’s favor had left the people in light of what was happening. Remember, however, this was written before the coming of Jesus and the assurance through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection that God’s love in eternal and unchanging.

“Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
Will you not revive us again, so that your people may rejoice in you?” (Verses 5 -6)

Ah, here is the key beloved reader. And Preacher/Seeker would be the first to point it out that many times . . . too many times . . . the “people” rejoice in God only when things are going well. When things are going . . . not well – think of the recent events in our world – the “people” fear and bemoan the times, the situation, and the other “people” who have caused the “not well-ness.” But that is the whole problem beloved reader; this “them/us” mindset where one group of people are given lesser value and important than others – it is literally killing us! We need to, for our very survival! Extend God’s favor and blessing to everyone! EVERYONE! Yes, EVERYONE!!!! If we allow the hatred that one person’s or one group’s action effect how we relate to each other, we have denied the possibility of God’s favor extending to them, and have set the stage for more violence.

Now, you may think I just mean certain groups or situations, but I am talking about even those who oppress, persecute, and yes, kill others. That does not mean we do not recognize their sin and evil intent. And we must restrain and stop them from allowing their sin and evil to cause more harm. But we also must make sure that our rejection to the sin and evil does not cause us to spread sin and evil that forms and festers in our own hearts! We, those who are suffering in all manner of ways, need God’s restoration too. And let it be that God’s favor heals the wounds in our hearts and the hearts, souls, and lives of those who have been brutally wounded.

“Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.
Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.” (Verses 7 – 8)

I have often asked myself in these last two weeks what I can do in the face of this. What can I do? I am not a person who attends rallies and speaks to the crowds. I do not belong to any group that marches or demonstrates or protests. I once did such things, but not now. And I have found that my efforts to add to what has been written social media forums has not resulted in good outcomes. So here I am, simply writing here on my blog, trying to address the issue of the day by putting forth scripture and commenting on it. And living peaceably with all those around me. Not much when you add it up. Yet . . . . .

Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.” (Verse 9)

If I can, through my small efforts, show “fear” for the Lord and encourage “fear” that is love, honor, reverence, and devotion to/for the Lord – then I have done much. And you, beloved reader, can do the same!

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.
The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.

Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps.” (Verses 10 – 13)

This is a prayer, and a hope, that the psalmist set forth. And it is also a promise that some day will have its fulfillment. We wait for that day, we long for that day; and, most importantly, we work towards that day in whatever ways we can and when ever we can spreading that love that we KNOW is from God. Because in these days human love just is not enough. We need to connect to the love that is from and of God. And that love will restore us! Selah!

Season After Pentecost: The Psalms Passage – Preacher and Seeker preach to us

[No, beloved reader, you did not miss seeing this one. Apparently it did not post correctly. My apologies if you were looking for something on the 28th. Here it is, better late than never!]

Seeker: “O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.”
Preacher: Dear listener, consider how often nature has been exhorted to praise and worship the Lord. Creation, itself, at any given moment is praising its Lord and Creator. From the swaying of leaves and branches to the blooming of flowers, and all the animals of the land, water, and sky going about their assigned tasks are raising praises to the Lord.

Seeker: “Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.”

Preacher: Do not question and wonder at what I say. To us nature is simply going about its own business doing what is instinctive and natural. And if at times nature seems harsh and unforgiving, that is what nature is – starkness of life and death. But we, dear listener, are not caught in the cycle of nature. Flesh we may be, and from humble earthly beginnings. But our higher natures are modeled after the Lord. For us the exhortation to worship and praise means more than just following our earthly natures.

Seeker: “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples.”

Preacher: We are called to know and acknowledge our God. To us the Lord has given wider and deeper understandings. From the very beginning when humanity was called into relationship with God we were given a vital role in the Lord’s “marvelous works.”

Seeker: “For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be revered above all gods.”

Preacher: If we lift our eyes only as far as our own concerns, we do no more than the animals of the land, water, and sky. Our gods are the gods of earthly concerns which die when the flesh dies.

Seeker: “For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.”

Preacher: The Lord God is more and greater than that. Do not let our thoughts and minds stop at only our concerns. Let us lift up our eyes farther, to the heavens where the Lord dwells and where our truer home is.

Seeker: “Honor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.”

Preacher: The things of this earth do not last long. So let us not put those concerns ahead of the precepts and statutes of the Lord. Let us strive for those things that last, that survive beyond the death and end of flesh. What is beauty on the earth is not the beauty that is in heaven. What is truly honorable may have its beginnings in this world but will find its truer meaning and fulfillment in the world to come. The Lord does not measure strength by our terms but by Godly terms. Majesty belongs to the Lord, and it is in the Lord’s sanctuary that we should build up our treasures.

Seeker: “Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.”
Preacher: Will we be satisfied by what we find in this world? Or will we look beyond this world to the next? Hold out, dear listener, for the gifts that come from the Lord and are the Lord.

Seeker: “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts.”

Preacher: Worship the Lord while you are in this world; but realize that this world can not contain the power and the glory that is the Lord.

Seeker: “Worship the Lord in holy splendor; tremble before him, all the earth.”

Preacher: But, you may ask, how can we adequately worship what is so beyond us? How can we understand what is so far above us? It is true, we can see only this world. It is the only reality we can know. We are flesh. We are bound by this world. If we are made in the image of the Lord God, it is in fleshly sinew and bone that the image is cast in.
Are we doomed then? Do we look up to the heavens seeking and hoping for the Lord’s favor and glory, but still find ourselves mired in flesh and the hold it has over us?

Seeker: “Say among the nations, “The Lord is king! The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved.
He will judge the peoples with equity.”

Preacher: The Lord created this world, and we who are in it. We cannot free ourselves from the hold that sinew and bone has over us. But remember, dear listener, that the Lord reigns over the world and all creation remembers that the Lord cares for it and nurtures it. In the Lord’s time all of creation and all of humanity will be set free from the sin and imperfection that holds it back. That is why all of creation rejoices; not for what it is now but what it will become!

Seeker: “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it.”

Preacher: So dear listener, let us rejoice with creation that our Lord watches over us, tends to us, cares for us and plans for our fulfillment.

Seeker: “Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord; for he is coming, for he is coming to judge the earth.”

Preacher: Wait, dear listener, wait for the Lord. Keeping watch for the Lord and praise while you wait. Praise with tongue and soul, with body and heart.

Seeker: “He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth.” (Psalms 96)

Preacher: Hold to the commandments that the Lord has set before and the teachings that Christ have given us. For it is by these things we will be judged and through these things that we will be set free. Selah!

Sixth Sunday of Easter: The Psalm Passage – Praising in a broken world {Preacher/Seekers and I both speak}

Preacher: “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us,”
Seekers: “Selah”

Preacher: “ . . . that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth.
Seekers: “Selah”

Preacher: “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us. May God continue to bless us; let all the ends of the earth revere him.” (Psalm 67)
Seekers: Selah!

Since first starting to write this blog, I have seen come to the United States and to the world. I first started contributing to this blog back in 2007. It is coming nigh close to 10 years. I don’t remember if then the world seemed as fragmented and chaotic as it does now. I do not remember if violence and natural devastation was to the level it is now. The news media and social media do an ever increasingly good job of keeping us apprised and informed of world happenings. I am not even sure it is good to know about such things as soon as they happen; if one’s stance is to pray as soon as bad news is heard and rejoice when good news comes, then knowing is good. But if one would pray for humanity regardless of the most current happening, and rejoice that there is still good in the world, then you would not have to know the particulars.

It cannot be said with real accuracy and authenticity that “God is in control” because that does a disservice to the Divine. Humanity is in control of its self, and God is begging us to follow the principles and guidelines that the Lord has set down. Nature is under no one’s control but is spinning off wildly because of what humanity and time have done to it. So if there tragedies to mourn and pray for, it is because humanity has not let God be in control of their actions. And if there are natural devastation, it because nature is running just as amok as selfish human will.

But there is reason to praise. Preacher speaks it and Seekers affirm it. God is gracious to us, when we allow God’s grace to move and work through us. God has set down a template for humanity, if we would but follow it. God judges us, but has established a means for mercy and forgiveness to mediate that judgment. There are stories of God’s blessing and if we listen, we will hear those stories. So let us praise God where praise can be lifted up, and appeal to God when we find ourselves mired in the problems of the world. Selah!

Fifth Sunday of Easter: The Psalm Passage – Preacher and Seeker praise!

Preacher: “Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host!”

Seeker 2: Praise the Lord? Ha! With all that is going on in the world?! Turmoil and disaster, sickness and death, rack and ruin! I tell ya’, any one who can find something to praise doesn’t have eyes to see with!

Preacher: “Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!”

Seeker 2: Well, yeah, if you are not talking about the people that are suffering. Sure, nature can praise God. But even nature is suffering come to think of it. I can see that. Pollution choking out life, and animals suffering because they don’t have clean places to live that haven’t been messed up by humanity. But the sun and the moon are not affected. And the stars still twinkle. The sky is there, but you can’t trust the water that comes from it!

Preacher: “Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.
He established them forever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.”

Seeker 2: So, the Lord is watching out for all of this? Really? Taking care of it? And in response to all the trouble they are in, they are supposed to praise the Lord?

Preacher: “Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command!
Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds!”
Seeker 2: Preacher, are not hearing me? Nature and humanity are in an awful mess, and you want them to join together as if everything is peachy keen, and praise the Lord?!

Preacher: Seeker, I hear you. And I know you are speaking the truth. The world, nature, and all of humanity are breaking down and suffering. If there is any praise, it is praise from a position of brokenness and want; trouble and turmoil, aggression, war and death. But Seeker, the Lord has not brought about this brokenness. Nature is imperfect, and humanity even more so. All of it is broken and in need of healing. But the Lord stands with us in our brokenness, and loves us in our brokenness. The Lord does not condemn us because humanity has trashed nature and seems bound & determined to ruin all themselves in the process of fulfilling their own will instead of following the Lord’s precepts. We praise the Lord not because of the way things are, but because in the Lord’s love there is hope that someday this brokenness will be mended. And there are people who seek to do this Divine work of mending now!
Seeker 2: “Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and women alike, old and young together!
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his faithful, for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 148)

Preacher: Amen! Selah!

Third Sunday of Easter: The New Testament Passage – A glimpse of the Heaven of Revelation, narrated by Preacher and Seeker

Preacher: “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,”
Seeker: Imagine a football stadium the size of a city; or a concert hall that stretches out several miles, but the singers are not on the stage but are the audience. And the music sweeter than any human force can produce!
Preacher:” . . . singing with full voice,“Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
Seeker: I know the lyrics seem strange – not what you would expect on earth. But in the Heaven of Revelation all focus and attention is on the Divine. Maybe not your idea of Heaven. But remember – this is a celebration of the greatest event in all of creation.
Preacher: “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing,”
Seeker: So creation itself is celebrating. Anything and everything that has ever gone wrong has been made corrected. There are no more flaws in any creature or any person – nothing to mar the heart, soul or spirit.
Preacher: “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might
forever and ever!”

Seeker: And the reason that perfection now exists is seated in the midst of the celebration. What would you do if you were there?
Preacher: “And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshiped.” (Revelation 5:11-14)

Fourth Sunday of Lent 2016: The Psalms Passage – Preacher and Seeker 1 preach to Seeker 2 (and us)

Seeker 1: “Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”

Preacher: “While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.”

Seeker 2: Yeah, I would be happy if all my sins, my “transgressions” were forgiven. But I don’t see how keeping silent about them is going to make me suffer.

Preacher: “For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.”

Seeker 1: “Selah!”

Seeker 2: Okay, so maybe I was feeling kinda bad and remorseful. I’m not perfect you know.

Preacher: “Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity;”

Seeker 1: “I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”

Preacher: “Selah.”

Seeker 2: You know, this season of Lent is not easy; especially for someone like me who does not talk a lot about what I am feeling inside. It is hard for me to open up; and I can be just as hard for me to talk to God as it is to people about what I am feeling – my hurts, my sins and such.

Seeker 1: “Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them.”

Seeker 2: I know for listening to you two that it is better to talk to God and get right with God than it is to hide away. And I know more often than not I try to struggle through things on my own than to let anyone, God or anyone else know what is going on.

Preacher: “You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.”

Seeker 1: “Selah.”

Seeker 2: I get it; talk to God. Talk to others who can help me understand God and what God can do for me. But when I am knee deep in trouble, I just don’t think about “falling on my knees” so to speak.

Preacher: “I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”

Seeker 1: “Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you.”

Seeker 2: Now just hold on! That is just a little bit harsh and rough. Just because I may not turn to God first thing, doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with me!

Seeker 1: “Many are the torments of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.”

Seeker 2: I am not wicked! [sniff] I don’t want to be wicked. I do want God and I need God’s steadfast love! And I do want to develop steadfast love for God!

Preacher: “Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.” (Psalms 32)

Seeker 2: I will try. Especially in this season of Lent, I will try to be the person God wants me to be. Then I will rejoice and be glad in the Lord. Then I will shout for joy. Let it be as you say, O God. Selah!

 

 

Oh beloved reader, there is so much commentary, explanation and insight I want to give on what is going one here with Preacher, Seeker 1 and Seeker 2. Their characters, their purpose, their faith and outlook on life. And how they see God. I am hoping you can “read between the lines” and see what I tried to craft and create. And I hope in some small way it contributes to your journey through this season of Lent. Selah!