August 2021
From the Pastor

 

Psalm 91:1-6 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 2I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." 3For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. 4He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. 5You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

Over the past few months, I have been providing pastoral care to members of our congregation and our community.  The broadcast news is filled with news of the world and our community that feels too great a burden for us to carry.  Simply put, the truth, the world is a scary place.  It feels like the longer Covid-19 lasts, the scarier it gets.  It has driven a wedge between us in more than one way.  We have seen the rise of a climate crisis (the drought and heat wave) and the natural disasters that go with it.  Just this morning, I was reading about the flooding taking place in Germany and throughout Europe.  We have seen a rise in international fascist movements. People in Cuba are protesting the tyranny under which they are living.  We have experienced unapologetic racism and sexism.  We have watched law enforcement being militarized during riots and now being marginalized.  Health care issues have been politicized.  Add to the mix, a very tenuous economy with rising food prices and inflation ready to launch out of control.  Through it all we feel that there is a breakdown of the institutional norms and safeguards we have always counted upon. It seems that danger is waiting around every corner.  Just naming all of this is exhausting and can affect the joy that you feel in your day.

We are not necessarily paranoid. The growing crisis in mental health in this country might suggest that we are responding to real events going on around us, in real lives, our lives!

Throughout the whole of Psalm 91 evil is described as an active power in the world that opposes God and all the living.  In dealing with this evil, the psalmist recommends that as one who has put your trust in the God who delivers, you speak your faith out loud. But it seems strange in these times to boldly declare that God is “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust” (vs. 2) But saying it re-orients the situation and re-frames the world of the sufferer by calling to mind his or her true identity.  You belong to God.  It also reveals the true state of affairs (namely, that you are in the protection of God Almighty). This Psalm is addressed to the faithful person who trusts in God and yet feels the presence of a threatening evil that works overtime, night, day, dark, noontime (vs. 4-5).

How to respond to distress without giving in to fear?  We remember to whom we belong.  And we remember that the one to whom we belong is in charge of the universe.  Try reading this Psalm out loud.  Our ancestors in faith knew that saying a thing out loud can actually do something.  Speech has the power to change world events and human lives.  A word of trust and faith can bring the power of God to a world in need of direction.  To boldly announce that one’s life and trust is firmly planted in the power and love of God gives power to the struggle against the forces of chaos and death all around.  A word of hope and imagination can lead to a possibility that was not there before.  In speaking faith aloud, we are offered the courage to face a world that truly does consist of dangers all around.  Maybe by saying it out loud someone will hear you and they will be reminded of who is really in charge and be encouraged to take refuge in God.

The world really is a scary place.  The vestiges of death and death’s power are all around.  You choose life and call to your God. The threat of death cannot harm you in the fortress of God’s love.  In death or in life, you belong to the Lord.  Thanks be to God! In the peace of Christ,  Pr. Paul <><