A Moment for renewal…
June 25, 2017
Scripture: Psalm 86:1-12
Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am devoted to you; save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry out all day long. Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you.
Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my cry of supplication. In the day of my trouble I call on you, for you will answer me.
There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours.
All the nations you have made shall come and bow down before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.
Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.
In just a little bit we will have the opportunity to share in a glorious and wonderful witness to the love of our Lord as Joan and David Roberts renew their wedding vows to each other. And as I looked through the readings for today I was struck by how well the psalm for the day speaks to this idea of trusting and depending upon God for our very life, our joy, and for the guidance and companionship that so enriches our lives.
And I was also reminded, when looking at a calendar of this year that this week marks the halfway point through 2017…which also seems like a good time to pause and to reflect on how our lives, as well as our hopes and dreams are being shepherded along by our Lord. And in looking back it seems like the time went by so fast, and yet it also seems impossible that so much has happened in just six months…so much thought, so much concern, so many challenges, so many hopes…so much life.
I for one have found this time to be particularly challenging, especially as I look to find the ways in which God is calling us to be faithful and attentive to all the ways he is seeking to renew the life and witness of this and of his whole church. And I think I find it challenging because ‘life’ of late seems at least to me, to be proceeding along at a pace that allows little time for reflection or question, decisions need to be made fast, and consequences are not able to be fully anticipated. It seems as though there is a certain rhythm or pattern as each day follows on the unfinished thought or work of the day before, and as days give way to weeks and as weeks flow on into months without allowing us to stop and to just ponder where it is that we all seem to be rushing to…to say nothing of where we are trying to go.
And faith…faith somehow gets wedged into the small little cracks and crevices in what is otherwise a pretty full schedule. For sure there are many of us who pray quite a bit and who rely on the Lord to help us order our days…but the clamor of life’s daily demands is just as capable of drowning out our ability to hear our Lord’s response or at least to refocus our attention on whatever it is that is calling out so loudly and insistently for an answer at just that moment.
The book of Psalms is a testimony of humanity’s age-old need to push back against this tide of life’s distraction and struggle…a record of the human heart’s need to stop, to cry out to God, and to remember the goodness and grace that is always and forever waiting on the other end of a heartfelt prayer. Today’s psalm is just such a call out for understanding and for grace in uncertain times…a cry out for the assurance of God’s love and protection…and truly a moment in time when the author needed and took the time to just stop…to put life on pause for a moment and to let the deepest concerns of his heart rise up in prayer to the heavens…and as it turns out, it was a prayer that was simultaneously answered within the very words themselves.
We all need to stop from time to time. To at least momentarily turn our backs on the call to busyness and distraction, to the seemingly ceaseless command to address multiple problems or needs immediately; and instead to find that quiet place within the center of our soul in order to let the grace of God flow in renewing our hearts and restoring our joy.
We are called to be a light unto the nations, a visible witness of the goodness and love of our God, a testament of the grace and joy that flows outward from within a community of faith. And in order to do that with any kind of consistency, to do that more often than simply on the high holy days of our church calendar we must find the time and the will to be regularly renewed both as individuals standing before our God of love, and as a community of faith called to stand in this place, and to bless all others who come before us in response to the Lord’s lead. We need to promise ourselves that we will take better care of ourselves by setting aside the time simply to sit before the Lord on a regular basis…to make that time in which we sit quietly before the Spirit of Grace a priority…and to sit there long enough to hear the Lord share his love of us, with us.
Now surely this is probably best done at the start of the day before the clamor reaches fever pitch, but it is important to note that our Lord is on call full-time, never waning in his attentiveness to our moments of struggle or need. It matters not when we call out and sit quietly to listen but rather that we take the time to do so in the first place. Renewal is a critical part of life itself…our physical beings are constantly in a state of renewal, even the very act of breathing in and breathing out shows just how important it can be. And so too with all of creation, and especially at this time of year, as everything wakes up and is re-clothed in the glory of spring blooms and the land is graced once again with the joyous and playful birth of new life all throughout the animal kingdom.
Renewal, rebirth, re-focusing…it’s what we are called to do within the deepest parts of our being…why then do we so often allow our minds to find their way into the ruts of redundant repetition, and the rigidity of schedules and deadlines that rob us of our dreams and slowly eat away at our hope and joy?
So…take a moment…and then take another…get into the habit of making time not only for God, but for yourself as well. Allow the quiet of reflection to settle your heart, the stream of life-giving water that flows from the heart of God to lift up your spirit, and the assurance of God’s love to remind you that it is alright to set aside the hustle and bustle for a time in order to breathe in deeply of the new life our Lord stands always ready to offer.
For in that moment you will find a certain peace, in that moment you will find new strength and resolve, and in that moment you may even find the grace to remember and to utilize and share the blessings you have so abundantly been given, throughout your journey back into and through the land of clamor and busyness.
Take time to be renewed…for it is as grace-filled vessels that we are most useful to the Lord as he seeks to renew the face of the whole earth. Take a moment…you deserve it…and you need it as well.