(this is a transcript of the message)
Today I want to talk about the Psalm and I also want to talk about the gospel reading. First of all, the video that you just saw, where we wait, we hope we stay it’s all about coming from that Psalm 147 that we read to you earlier, that we did a responsive reading with Thaddeus and myself and those words we wait, we hope we stay.
It was a time when they were still exiled in Babylon, the Israelites, but they were getting news that soon they would be able to come back to Jerusalem. So they’re waiting and they’re hoping for the good news for when, they’ll be able to go back to their own homes. And yet they also stay, anticipating that hope we wait, we hope we stay. And I started thinking about that as like, Hmm. Boy that sounds a lot like what happened this last year with us? We’ve been waiting. We’re hoping, we’re hoping that there’s more vaccines out there. We’re hoping that, everybody will get vaccinated. We’re hoping that this pandemic will go away soon.
And what else are we doing? We’re staying, most of us, with an exception, the super bowl, hopefully most of you are watching the super bowl at home, not doing any major parties today. We don’t need that. So we’re staying, we’re staying where we’re remaining at home. We’re not going out and about all over the place all the time.
And we’re being careful with our masks. You know, we wear our masks and we try and keep that social distance. So we wait, we hope and we stay. And there’s so much about God’s presence in this Psalm in these last few weeks, when we’ve been talking about God’s character and God’s presence and the awe and the wonder of God, this is what we hear in this Psalm.
There’s a lot of different things that we see in the Psalm. And I just want to bring us some of these to light to you. First of all, we hear about, the stars we hear about the rain we hear about the growing grass. All of these things are ways that open our eyes to the many ways in which God’s presence is available to us surrounding us in the natural world.
So that’s one way that we sense God’s presence. And it’s one of the ways that opens our eyes. We get a chance to see that even in the wonder of the snow. Just the other day I have my dog Kelsey, and she loves to play in the snow and we’re out in the front yard and I have her on her leash, but of course she wants me to throw the snow up in the air and play catch with her.
And so I kept throwing snow up in the air for her to catch and she’s leaping around and spinning around and catching it. And what happens, there’s a truck driving by, with a little child in the back seat and they stopped and they start watching.
And they’re very amused by all this, and then they take off. And so then I take Kelsey for her walk. Well, as we come around the block, what happens? The truck driver slows down. He rolls his window. He says, now I have to get a dog. She wants a dog that will play with the snow too.
That’ll catch snowballs. So you never know ways that we can sense the joy. Its all around us and it’s so much fun to see, you know, somebody else experienced the joy of just watching a dog catching snow in the air a simple thing. But yet it’s, it’s, it’s a wonderful way of sensing God’s joy in the world.
So those are some of the signs that we see and when we open our eyes and we see God’s presence around us, we also start to see God’s presence within ourselves and within others. And it reminds us of the deep connection we really have with God. And the more we learn about our faith, the more we practice our faith, just like a muscle, the more you exercise it the better in shape you get the same thing with our faith.
The more you exercise it, the deeper you’ll grow in your faith and your relationship with God.
So we are trying to be attentive to God’s presence not just around us, but within us. And we want to do it in each and every moment. And when we can be attentive, to God’s presence, it helps us to put our trust in God, and it helps us to open ourselves up to God’s calling God’s calling to serve, to engage the world with new eyes and help perceive this wonderful richness that creation and human relationships can offer us.
It’s a wonderful way for us to see that God is indeed with us all the time. And so the more we sense God’s presence, the more we can see God in the most ordinary circumstances in our every day in our every moment. And we think about the mountain top, you know? Yes. Jesus brought disciples, a few of them up Peter, James and John up the mountain, and they had a mountain top experience.
And we’re going to hear about that when we go to transfiguration Sunday, but it’s not always the mountaintop. And yes, we heard Martin Luther King when he talked about, I had a dream and he said, and I’ve been to the mountain top and I’ve seen, and it is glory and it is glory. But is that the only place where we can be full of awe wonder about God, that is amazing experience.
If you get to be at the mountain top, but most of us, we just are in our everyday world and our everyday lives. So how do we experience, how do we sense that awe and wonder of God, we need to realize that God is around every corner in every human encounter. And so when we are praising God, when we can sing songs of praise, we’re singing, not only praise to God, but we’re being in prayer to God.
And one of the beautiful things is, you know, you hear most groups, you know, some churches, we have what we call a worship team of praise team, a praise band, you know, there’s different names for what are we doing when we’re singing the hymns? What are we doing when we, whether we’re singing, what we call the praise songs or the hymns, we are offering praise to God and expressing it in prayer through song.
It is a beautiful thing. And I know a lot of you can’t sing at home. Maybe you are singing at home. I know we’re not, we’re limited to our singing right now because of the pandemic in church, but you know, it is such a gift. It’s such a gift that we have music, another way that we can praise God in prayer.
So this Psalm, it offers us so much about God and offers hope for us, even the face of our shortcomings in the face of our flaws, even when we mess up, when we run away and we go just the opposite way, the way Jonah did when he was supposed to go to Nineveh and he went the opposite way. He ran away from God.
We are still embraced and loved by God. Even when we fail to reach out and share God’s light and love to others, we need to take comfort and know that God is still there for us and loves us. We are treasured by God. So if we are treasured by God, And we sense God’s presence. Do we also sense God’s calling an invitation to reach out to one another?
Well, in the last few weeks we’ve also been talking about Jesus and he starts calling his disciples and he doesn’t have all 12 yet, but he’s been calling them and he’s saying, follow me, you know, he says, I’ll teach you to fish for people to be fishers for people. And now he’s up in Capernum and he goes to Peter’s mother-in-law house after spending an entire day of, of helping others and healing them and, and teaching about the Torah, teaching the scriptures to the people, and he does all this.
And so they go to Peter’s mother-in-law’s house and what happens. Well, they tell Jesus that, Hey, she’s sick. She has a fever. She’s not doing well right now. And so he goes to her, we don’t hear a word from her. We don’t know, how sick she really is. We just know that she has a fever, but Jesus goes to her and after he goes to her, she’s made well.
And what does she do? She gets up and she doesn’t think of herself instead. She gets up and she starts to serve others. She puts action in and does things to help others right after she starts feeling well. So Jesus is busy healing, the wounds of people, he’s healing people in all sorts of different ways.
And we know that God talked in the Psalm about, healing, our wounds. And we know that there’s so many different types of wounds in the world. Yes. We have our physical wounds and some of us still have scars to prove it. You know, especially if you had an injury, if you had surgery, you know, you have some type of scar, but there’s other kinds of scars too.
There’s not just the physical wounds that we need healing from. We have emotional wounds, we have spiritual wounds, we have mental wounds and all of these need to be healed so that we can be made whole. And Jesus is the one who can help heal us and make us whole, I kind of think of Jesus as the super glue, the super glue that puts everything back together and makes us stronger and makes us whole. It’s one of those things that Jesus did all different types of healing.
But it wasn’t just the healing that he did for people. He helped them believe again, believe in their faith. And it usually, it was because they had faith that they were made well, but Jesus didn’t just stay in Capernaum, even though that was just kind of like home base for those three years of his ministry, after doing all this and doing it most of the night in the early morning, what did he have to do?
He went away by himself so he could pray. In a sense, he needed to recharge his batteries. He needed to be in connection with God. He needed to pray. And then when the disciples that were with him found him, cause they went out and they looked for him. They said, you know, there’s more people here that need healing and you think, okay, I’ll just stay here and do that.
But Jesus messes. Wasn’t just for the people in Capernaum. It was for all the world. And so Jesus started saying, no, we need to go to all the other villages. And so they went all the way around Galilee around the sea of Galilee, and they started taking that message, that message of love, compassion, grace, mercy, hope.
And he started to heal other people. And of course the word spread. So how do we live out our lives today and be healed by Jesus. If we don’t have faith, if we don’t reach out to God, If we don’t say God, I am broken, I need healing. What can we do to open ourselves up some questions to think about questions to ponder.
And I started thinking about this and I started thinking about, you know, sometimes we don’t even have to say anything because God knows our heart. God knows our heart and knows when we need help. When we’re struggling when we are tired, when we have pain, when we’re grieving, God sees us and knows us, and sometimes we can be healed immediately.
And sometimes it takes some time to do that. And there are other times when God sends somebody else to reach out. Yes, we have doctors. We have nurses, we have all these people that have been working so hard during this pandemic to try and help heal people. We have scientists working constantly creating new vaccines, especially as we get more and more strains coming around of this.
COVID there’s so many people working and we have people out there vaccinating folks trying to help get the word out, trying to help us so that we can be protected from this pandemic. And then there’s others that are providing the food for us, providing a chance for us to have free food, whether it be the pantries and there’s others that are working in the stores.
We need to thank all these essential personnel. I mean, to thank all of them because they are trying to give us whatever normalcy we can have during this time, because all of our lives have changed during this pandemic. So when we began to think about this and we can celebrate not only the small and large acts of service of others that we find in this world, we can be encouraged that God is looking out for us.
And there are different ways that we can serve others. There’s a way, if, if you think about it, I want you to think going back to that Psalm of how. God was encouraging those that were in exile. And we heard that song. We wait, we hope we stay, but they were hopeful because they saw that God was going to rebuild, rebuild Jerusalem, rebuild the Holy land, and they’d be able to go back and they would be able to worship again in their temples.
And so I want to ask these questions. You viewed it. I want you to start thinking about this and I got this from another author. And here’s some of the questions that, uh, they put forward. They said, what is the equivalent of God building Jerusalem up today? What does the equivalent of God building up our community today?
Where do we see that? And who are the people that are marginalized that God is embracing and bringing as the Israel of today, who are the ones who feel exiled and alone? Who are they that God is reaching out and wanting to give them hope and love and compassion and encouragement. And how has it for our faith community?
How has our faith community meant to function as a Holy city, as a Holy community that shines as a beacon to the larger world of God’s people. How do we do that in our own community, in our own faith community? As the body of Christ, how do we let our light shine and reach out to others? And where do we see God’s presence in our community, which offers the hospitality to the stranger or assistance to the needy.
We hear about it. We’ve talked about all the things that we do. We talked about our food pantry. We’ve talked about this Schenectady community ministries known as SICM that do so many things. There’s also the rescue mission. There’s so many different things out there that are reaching to our community to offer hospitality to those that are in need.
And then what do we need? What do we need to be healed and made whole so that we took and follow Christ and reach out to others with God’s love, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. Many of us may be broken in one way or another, or maybe you are completely healed and you are completely whole, and thank God for that.
But what is holding you back from one, opening yourself up? To God’s love and forgiveness to Jesus, reaching out with his hand and his, and saying you are well. And then taking your hand and saying, please come follow me. The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. There is so much work that needs to be done in this world.
Can you, will you follow me? Will you be one who will be a Fisher for people, will you be one who will reach out and be the light that I gave you and free of that love that I give you and share that good news with others. Will you be one of those who can help heal someone else so that they can be made whole, we are treasured and loved by God. Let’s help share that goodness with others. Amen.