Monday, July 20, 2015

Psalm 98 Mark 4, Joys and Concerns

Sermon given at United Church of Beloit July 19, 2015

Psalm 98
A psalm.
1 Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
2 The Lord has made his salvation known
and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
3 He has remembered his love
and his faithfulness to Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.
4 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music;
5 make music to the Lord with the harp,
with the harp and the sound of singing,
6 with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn―
shout for joy before the Lord, the King.
7 Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.
8 Let the rivers clap their hands,
let the mountains sing together for joy;
9 let them sing before the Lord,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples with equity.

This psalm, specifically verse 8 Let the rivers clap their hands,
let the mountains sing together for joy;
was the theme for our NACCC Annual meeting in June. Held in Salt Lake City, Utah, in a hotel with a great view of mountains surrounding the city, it was fitting. A couple of evenings, Martin and I watched the mountains at the colors on the mountains and the sky changed from golden hue to pinkish and purple...yes the mountains were singing..not audibly but there was profound beauty there.

I was originally not planning to attend the meeting this year, as Laura Erickson's our elected delegate. But I was asked to fill out the term of someone on the leadership team. So I am now serving on the Growth Ministry Council. In the new structure of the NA, there is an executive council, a board of directors and under them 3 ministry councils, one for Missions, one called Vitality and the Growth Ministries Council, which handles everything that doesn't fall into either of the other 2 categories :) those of us on the council enjoy that and refer to ourselves as the Merry Band of Misfits. During the pre-meeting we finished up writing a Policy and Procedure manual..which was actually more interesting than it sounds. I've never done much of that sort of thing but I am a good proofreader. And,it wasn't long before I could easily dictate “this team will assist churches and individuals, by seeking out, or developing, and providing Bible-based resources to assist in worship, education, etc, etc...”
The Growth Ministry Council had a display with our resources, and contact information, and we presented 2 workshops, which were well received. One of our group also did a workshop herself on worship for people with intellectual disabilities.

(Link below) I have samples of the resources, including the one that I did write, worship resources for lay leaders to use when the Sr Minister is away...which incorporates a variety of sources and theologies, and actually some Sr Ministers were interested in the list for their own use.

So that's the work that I did at the Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City. At the Sunday morning worship service, the texts were this Psalm and the Gospel lesson was from Mark chap 4...

this is in a section where Jesus is doing a LOT of teaching to crowds of people, telling parables, his stories that teach about the Kingdom of Heaven, and immediately following this story he does several miracles and healings. SO here is our Gospel lesson...

Mark 4:35-41

Jesus Calms the Storm

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
what a great story. This one is told in the 3 of the 4 gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke. Mark's version adds the details of “they took him into the boat just as he was” and that he was sound asleep in the rear of the boat. Now this was not a luxury craft...this was an open fishing boat, probably no more than 30 feet long, if that. Jesus, fully divine, AND fully human, was TIRED. Exhausted, bone-weary. He was ASLEEP while the boat was being tossed by wind and waves, with water was coming into the boat.
And the disciples woke him saying, “Jesus don't you care if we drown?” (how can you sleep at a time like this!?) and Jesus got up, and calmed the storm with a word.
Have you ever felt like asking Jesus 'don't you care that I am about to go under?” “Sometimes I feel like a Motherless Child....”
I'm feeling that way lately as someone I love dearly is dying from cancer. As I pray for friends who have lost loved ones, or have someone in hospice care. But when I come here with you all, when I was at the meeting in SLC, when I am in a Book Bag Bash meeting with folks from 7 or 8 other churches....i know that Jesus cares. Because of the Bible. Because there are folks who are praying for us, for each of us, for this church, for Beloit. I know Jesus cares because there is joy in our worship. Even in our own griefs and losses, when we come together there is Joy, the joy of being together -that deep-down assurance that ultimately all will be well. because we have the Love of God through Jesus. Joy is that assurance that no matter how many storms, how rocky things get, God loves...So loved...that He sent Jesus, who came to live as a human being, able to live and love and even laugh with his very own creation! He lived as One of us, so he knew the joys and troubles of being a human being. And the weariness! Jesus did this to bring us that joy, that assurance. That comfort.
That assurance and joy comes from the peace of God, that Shalom. God's perfect peace which is also protection and wholeness. We may not experience the whole of Shalom every single day of our lives, but we will- on the other side, in heaven.
We have this knowledge when we come together because we are better together than apart. Like the USA Women's Soccer Team, Strong Alone, Unstoppable Together! That is us, as individuals, strong alone, unstoppable as a church! And as churches come together in our community, working with Caritas, Hands of Faith, other missions, and our Book Bag Bash, we are strong alone, and unstoppable together!
Let the rivers clap their hands,
let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the Lord,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples with equity.
Did you catch that? God will judge with equity...not harshness, but fairly. Yes we will be judged, but we have an advocate..the Spirit of God given by Jesus, who will stand by our side –because Jesus took our sin, our failings, onto His very self...on the cross.

let's pray--

Holy God, With a word you created all that is, and your word still has power to deliver us from storms of doubt and fear. Help us remember to always call upon you, our Lord and savior. Help our faith and trust, and so help us to live out your Love in our families and in this community. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.

Resources from Growth Ministry Council

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