Category: devotion

From Pastor Nick: Weekly thoughts on Worship, Faith, and Life, Vol. 1: week 3

“Let us Lament”

This past week I spoke about how Psalm 69 leads us from the orientation Psalms we had in 1 and 113 to psalms that speak of disorientation like 69 does as the writer cries out to God in distress and despair.  Sometimes these psalms are called Psalms of lament because they use the language of lament to name that what is happening seems unbearable, unfair, and without hope; while also naming that God is able to intervene.  They are cries not only about the calamity people find themselves in or faced with, but also are petitions for God who has intervened in the past to intervene once again.  The gravity of a problem will always be relative to the ones experiencing it given their values, context, and privileges in life.

What in our lives collectively and personally do we take notice of right now that hurts, that we have despair or despondency towards?  I know of a few that we share in common, but I wonder how our current attitudes and approaches have come far short of lament?   We have differing viewpoints about masking, protocols, vaccinations and politics, but we can still come together as a community and lament.  We are upset to have transition and for this church there has been a great deal of it: online worship, staff changes, Pastor Colin leaving in December, disconnection and distant relationships due to isolation, a sense of loss from how life used to be, loss of loved ones and friends, new ways of being and doing church etc.  I don’t believe everything can be solved by ‘just trusting God’ more; that goes for mental health, broken bones, mask wearing and the weather.  Instead, I believe that the language of the Psalms gives us a way to name our emotions, name the issues we are facing, and name God’s faithfulness and character as a God who can and does intervene.  

Will you join me in not blaming, judging, or belittling differences in our church and community?  Will you commit to pray a lament instead?  Here is an example: 

“Dear God, “X” is a problem right now. It should not be this way, and yet we have different beliefs and emotions that have hurt us and made it hard to be your people. We don’t have all the answers and we feel frustrated with ourselves, with how others have been, and that this situation is happening in the first place.  We know you are faithful; we recall how you brought healing to some of the worst diseases and ailments through Jesus Christ; we know you are a God who provides for your people. In Scripture we are reminded of the Exodus from Egypt, the food provided by manna in the desert, care and provision while your people were in exile, and the fullness of restoration brought by Jesus Christ).   We know that Jesus has freed us from all sin and brokenness and yet we remain broken, calloused, and confused about what the future holds.  We ask Holy Spirit that you will soften our hearts and minds, we ask that you bring about peace and restoration, we ask that you will put an end to divisions, an end to illness, and will instead bring about unity, peace, and genuine love for all our brothers and sisters.  We want this all now, and we trust that you are good and faithful to your promises to love us and never forsake us, and we also know that even if this doesn’t happen immediately that in the end your peace and your recovery, your restoration and renewal will happen for all things.  Come Lord Jesus, Amen.”

Pastor Nick

From Pastor Nick: Weekly thoughts on Worship, Faith, and Life, Vol. 1: week 2

“God shares the throne”

The second week of the Psalmist orienting us was all about equity and praise of the Lord for raising the lowly up.  Alfred so wonderfully explained how the poor man in the ash heap that God looks down on and has compassion on is translated more literally to be the man living in the garbage heap.  God has compassion on both male and female, and not just a compassion that recognizes their plight and speaks kind words.  God lifts the man from the garbage heap and seats him with princes; God notices the barren woman and gives her a dwelling.  Alfred recalled so many wonderful images and scripture passages; my favorite from this part of the Psalm was the connection to Genesis 2 where God is intimately involved with creation ‘playing in the dirt’ to make humanity.  

Psalm 1 was all about what road we are on, and where we find ourselves rooted; we were encouraged to find ourselves rooted in God’s care and instruction because it will mean sustenance, peace, nurture and fruitfulness.  Psalm 113 was all about God taking notice of creation especially humanity and sharing the throne; making seats for the poor, outcast, and forgotten members of society.  

Taken together it would seem the psalmist wants us to trust in God, to see our relationship with God and God’s word to be that which gives us instruction and nurture, and that Gods nature in relationship with us is to take notice of us, and to be about making things fair, equitable, and in right relationship.  What do we do with that and how do we respond to that?  

I believe it all comes back to the two great commandments Jesus gives his disciples.  Jesus says the love of God and the love of neighbors summarizes all of the law and the prophets.  I wonder about the phrase “to take notice,” and how that might be a clue towards loving God and loving neighbors.  If.  If Psalm 113 is all about how God “takes notice” of all of humanity and loves them properly and without discrimination; perhaps its also a call to us to “take notice” of our neighbors and love them without discrimination?  If we did nothing else as a church but this, imagine how much of an impact that would have on our communities of Victor, Farmington and surrounding areas?  

I can imagine people saying this: “that is the church that noticed when: I was on my last dollars of my paycheck, we were struggling to feed our family, we felt like no one cared about us because we were not white like our neighbors, we were being hurt, etc.”  Let’s be those that notice, and lets be those that show love without discrimination!

Pastor Nick

From Pastor Nick: Weekly thoughts on Worship, Faith, and Life, Vol. 1: week 1

“Orientation, Disorientation, Reorientation”

This past Sunday we started on a 6-week journey through the Psalms beginning with none other than Psalm 1. I want to come back to what I said on Sunday about “bathing ourselves in nature/bathing ourselves in scripture.”  This practice for me is usually easy, but last week I lacked focus.  I walked from church to the Victor Community Park and back on my lunch break.  I stopped at the pond adjacent to the outdoor amphitheater and sat down.  I smelled the fresh cut grass, heard the birds twitter and chirp along with the wind rustling the leaves in the trees; beneath my shoes the water sloshed back and forth as the clouds cast shadows on the dock below me.  The sun was almost too hot on my skin, but the wind provided enough buffeting to stir the water and make it pleasant for both me and the fish catching a slide ride from the sloshing motion.  You may be thinking, “Pastor Nick, that sounds great!” but I wasn’t really soaking it in.  I was distracted and disoriented by my emotions and the days worry.  I felt I was wasting time and not being productive.  

It struck me yesterday that there’s two things this teaches me, and I hope you learn from this as well: First, I am learning that at times settling my thoughts enough to listen, pray, or take in all that is around me is extremely difficult. Second, I am learning—re-learning actually—that to be a human creation among the rest of God’s creation has meaning in and of itself rather than how “productive” I am.

The invitation Sunday from Psalm 1 was to let ourselves be oriented towards God’s instruction, delighting in what God and Scripture teach us about ourselves and the world.  It is an invitation to let ourselves simply be or to simply exist, knowing our worth apart from what is done or what is left undone.  Beloved people of God, we are more than what we do! We are loved by God simply because God graciously welcomes us in!  It may be hard to practice soaking in life around us, and that’s okay, because being oriented in a different way sometimes means learning how to soak in all that life already gives to us.  Sometimes it’s as simple or difficult as taking notice of the trees and birds around us; other times its delighting in the familiar aspects of our faith that keep us trusting in God and seeking to love God with all that we are.

Pastor Nick  

Fire, Water, and the Table

Message from Pastor Colin Pritchard, Moderator of the Presbytery of Genesee Valley.

Living Water Reflection

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