Sermons

Praise God ()

Joan MacPherson, September 3, 2017
Part of the Sunday series, preached at a Sunday Morning service

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Praise God
Psalm 150
The week before last it was the solar eclipse. I heard Brian Roy share his stories about being in Nashville and taking it all in. It was a breath taking description about the wonder and gift of an opportunity to observe the power of nature doing what it does. This week it is Harvey, hurricane, tropical storm, devastating Harvey. We have all had wind knocked out of us with descriptions about the horror and destruction of the power of nature doing what it does.
The week before last I walked up the steps of the farm house at Circle camp and felt like I was hit by a brick of hot air as I walked into our bed room. As I leaned under the eave to make my bed there were not joyful thoughts about how it would be sleeping in those confines that night. A few hours later the wind started picking up and thunder began to boom and rain began coming down and shortly after crawling into bed the cooler air was filling the room and it felt good to have a sheet to pull over me.
Change. Transition. Evolution. Transformation. Decay. Birth. Death. Creation. Things shift. Things change. We soar with joy in times of wonder. We grovel and weep in times of despair. We are held in an embrace that means so much and it feels like it passes like a flash in the night. We have broken hearts and it feels like time stops and there is no movement toward something less painful and harsh. All this happens. We have felt it. We are feeling it.
For the church these experiences are not chaotic unknowns that come crashing at us with no foundation or core with which to respond or react. For the church there is trust that God is always present offering us a way of being that is of hope and love in the very real difficulties and uncertainties of life. We are not the ancient people who had no idea that there was such a thing as a solar eclipse and no ability to anticipate one would come and go, but who suddenly had an experience of the sun disappearing at mid day with no idea why that was happening or what that means. What a panic that would create. What angst about what would happen next. It had to be terrifying. Everything that they had known and experienced about the pattern of the day and the sun shifted with no warning, no explanation, no understanding. How different that is from the vast amount of warning, education, anticipation, marketing we had of the eclipse? Knowing what the eclipse was and when it would happen and what would happen made for a totally different kind of experience when it actually occurred.
So it is, or can be, for the church. We have our sacred story that declares the presence and power of holy love that creates and renews and stays close in the realities of lives pains and blessings. We have the life, death and resurrection of Jesus that declares that the powers and principalities can flex their muscles and cause real pain but that God’s love can not be stopped. We have the ongoing ministry and witness of the church through the years that declares the risen Christ actively enabling communities of hope to be light and peace and change in the world. We anticipate that there are cycles and patterns in life. That there is birth and there is death. There are times of growth and times of rest. There are times of light and times of dark. Transition and change are to be expected. The only thing permanent is the unconditional love and presence of God.
Over these past weeks we have heard the poetry and songs of our ancestors in faith that are collected in the Psalms. We have sampled just a scattering of these writings but even in this small study we have heard how people have spoken to God, leaned on God, challenged God, engaged God, thanked God, critiqued God, celebrated God. We have heard cries from the depths of despair and the heights of joy.
How long o God? God is my shepherd there is nothing I lack. God’s steadfast love endures forever. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Let every living creature praise God.
In the Psalms there is recognition that God is present in every part of life and that there is the opportunity to let that matter to us. To open our hearts to that holy presence and holy way of bringing life from death, of hope sprouting through the ruins, of love overcoming hate. To let this truth shape our responses to the very real circumstances of life that we can be a people of hope, not pollyanna denying there is anything hard people, but a people of hope who trust in the ongoing, transforming love of God that is active and can not/will not be stopped.
We gather this morning of Labor Day weekend. A time of transition. The school year beginning. The last Sunday before Church School resumes here. The morning air much crisper signaling a change of seasons. Transition and change are underway, as they always are. We gather and are reminded of God’s presence in all that is becoming and of God’s life giving/life changing invitation to us to join our labor, our lives, our words, our spending, our time with the holy one creating a future of love. Amen.

Joan MacPherson
Main Street Congregational UCC
September 3, 2017

Note: This manuscript was prepared for oral delivery only.
It contains excerpted material not properly cited.
Please do not redistribute without permission.

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