Mission Statement: The Lutheran Church of Our Saviour desires to be a community of Christians whose faith is active in love.

Trust In A New Thing

July 4, 2021
Psalm 27
Last weekend, Mary and I served as delegates to the Synod Assembly – a gathering that helps set the direction for the synod and the greater church over the coming three years.

This was the first assembly to be conducted online and it was an opportunity for more congregations and their members to see how the synod operates and to hear the stories first-hand that they otherwise would not hear.

I was truly gratified to see and hear that a number of our members visited the assembly over the course of its two days.

If you didn’t visit the assembly as it was underway, you can watch the recordings of the various sessions online.

The theme for the assembly was “Behold, I am doing a new thing.”

This is a reference to Isaiah 43: 18-19:

“Do not remember the former things,
    or consider the things of old.
19 I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”

I am about to do a new thing …

I am about to do a new thing …

The assembly and its worship and times of lament were about the troubles the world and our communities face … such as the effects of Covid … racism and the horrific discoveries in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

And it was an opportunity to continue discernment of our individual and congregational responses to these disorienting times.

It was an opportunity to discern new things and what they mean to life ahead.

Jeff Chu … one of the keynote speakers … compared the pandemic journey we are navigating to the years that the freed slaves spent in the wilderness.

For them … Chu said … the wilderness became their normal … just as the routines and accommodating the restrictions of the past 15 or so months have become our normal.

For the freed slaves, the life they knew … with its routines and expectations … with its harshness and violence had fallen away and they were facing an uncertain future as they travelled the wilderness toward new life at the other end.

Their steps into freedom was a disorienting process for them … and the pandemic is a disorienting time for each of us and for the church as a whole.

It is a time that has forced us from our comfort zones to tackle new challenges and demands and to consider new directions.

We face an uncertain future … I think the only certainty is that we can’t go back … the past … as comforting as it may seem … is the past.

When we come out of the pandemic and all its various waves … we will be faced with a new normal … a time when God … through us … will do a new thing.

It will be a time of reorientation.

The Psalms over the next two Sundays are about reorienting our lives to God’s call … to God’s expectations … and the new life that await us.

It will be a time of renewal … and of new wrinkles to worship … to congregational life … to our relationship with the greater community.

It’s kinda exciting to consider what could and what will spring forth in our lives and in the life of the church when that time arrives.

As the freed slaves adjusted to their new normal of the journey … and dealt with the doubts that came with the journey … they were called to remember and trust God … that the promise made would be kept.

We are also called to remember that through the past 15 or so months, God has called us to have trust in the unconditional, steadfast love we receive with each breath we take and to share that love with others.

Such trust lies at the heart of today’s Psalm … Psalm 27.

The Psalm writer’s story today is filled with pain and he calls out to God with the rawness and honesty of someone who has been pushed to the edge … physically, mentally, spiritually.

But in this honesty … the writer calls on God to be more present in the relationship. For the writer, trust is an action … something to be practiced and shared with others. Trust is something that is nurtured and strengthened through our acts of inclusion … comfort … and healing.

Today’s Psalm offers the answer to our fears and to the evil that is present in the world.

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?

says verse 1.

In discussing today’s Psalm, scholar Amanda Benckhuysen wrote:

“Confidence in God’s ability to overcome the darkest of evils does not require holding back our tears, our disappointments, our deep longing for more of God. Faith does not rule out doubt. Both trust and lament are proper expressions of faith in the context of hardship and suffering and often they go hand in hand.”

The writer laments that the world has turned on him … his parents can withdraw their love for him … but the writer trusts that God will hear the lament and turn toward the writer … to guide him through the challenges of the world.

In the Psalm, the writer moves from a disorienting time to one where his life is reoriented through God’s loving actions into one marked by beauty and joy. Everything else might fail, but God’s love never does.

And as we face our own challenges the Psalmist urges patience and resolve:

Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord!

The psalms of trust … such as today’s Psalm … are … according to one scholar … the words of those who aren’t being thrown from a bull for the first time.

They’ve been thrown before. And even though the crisis is horrible, they are able to trust on the basis of past experience that a brighter tomorrow will soon dawn.

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    

Perhaps, as we watch our local Covid numbers spike … and wonder what will happen next … we can lament the effect on our lives and what will be discarded along the journey … we can give voice to our frustrations and fears through prayers and trust that the grace we have received … the promise offered through Jesus’ death and resurrection … overcomes all.

Because it is through this grace … through this love … that God brings forth a new thing in our lives and in the life of the world.

The journey through the wilderness came to an end for the freed slaves and the sojourn through the pandemic wilderness will end for us and for the community, as well.

And when we reach the other side of the pandemic … I pray that the ground will be fertile and nurturing for the seeds of new things God has planted within us.

AMEN

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