Week of 3/10-3/16: Psalms 118 – Give Thanks

Sermon for 3/16/08
1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever! 2 Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” 3 Let the house of Aaron say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” 4 Let those who fear the Lord say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” 5 Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place. 6 With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can mortals do to me? 7 The Lord is on my side to help me; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. 8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in mortals. 9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in princes. 10 All nations surrounded me; in the name of the Lord I cut them off! 11 They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side; in the name of the Lord I cut them off! 12 They surrounded me like bees; they blazed like a fire of thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them off! 13 I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me. 14 The Lord is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. 15 There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the Lord does valiantly; 16 the right hand of the Lord is exalted; the right hand of the Lord does valiantly.” 17 I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord. 18 The Lord has punished me severely, but he did not give me over to death. 19 Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. 20 This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it. 21 I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. 22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. 23 This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 25 Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you, give us success! 26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. 27 The Lord is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar. 28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you. 29 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.   (NRSV)
The psalm is set as a congregational song, with the opening verses a call and response between the leader and people. It may have its origins in a personal challenge, or a community struggle against enemies. Either way, the psalm calls us to rejoice and give thanks because of the saving work of God on our behalf. Understanding, experiencing, and believing in God’s saving works seem a prerequisite to this experience of giving thanks.
Psalms 100 & 107
Questions for reflection:  
·     When have I experienced God’s saving work?
·     Where would I like to experience God’s saving works in my life, where would I like to see them in the world?
·     How can I proclaim these works to others and give evidence of them so that others may believe and give thanks?
PRAYER: Gracious God, we help us to recognize the blessings that we receive from your hand, and thereby turn our hearts to praise you. May we never fail to give you thanks and praise for your goodness toward us, and to tell throughout our community all you have done. Help us to live gratefully before you, O God. Amen.
Upcoming Texts:
Week of 3/17-3/23: Psalm 114 – The Awesome Presence of God

Week of 3/3-3/9: Psalms 130 – Wait & Hope

Sermon 030908
Psalm 130: 1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. 2 Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications! 3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? 4 But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered. 5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; 6 my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning. 7 O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem. 8 It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.  (NRSV)
Psalm 130 was likely written around the time of the Assyrian & Babylonian Conquests (790-444 BCE). So, we look to the writings of the prophets for context and understanding Israel‘s theology of “Waiting on God” & “Hope”.
Micah 7:7 Therefore I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear me. 8 Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; When I fall, I will arise; When I sit in darkness, The Lord will be a light to me. 9 I will bear the indignation of the Lord, Because I have sinned against Him, Until He pleads my case And executes justice for me. He will bring me forth to the light; I will see His righteousness. (NKJV)
Isaiah 40: 7 Why do you say, O Jacob, And speak, O Israel: “My way is hidden from the Lord, And my just claim is passed over by my God”? 28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, 31 But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.  (NKJV)
Questions for reflection:  
·     Where in my life have I experienced what happened to Israel & Judah when they failed to follow God and honor God’s ways, and thus were conquered by their enemies?
·     How can I wait on God?
·     For what do I most hope from God?
PRAYER: 1 O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. 2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me. 3 O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time on and forevermore.  Amen.   (Psalms 131 – NRSV)
Upcoming Texts:
Week of 3/10-3/16: Psalm 118 – Give Thanks
Week of 3/17-3/23: Psalm 118 – Give Thanks