O God our help in ages past. Our hope for years to come. Our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home, we lift our eyes to you. We look to you for help in our time of need. Teach us to look to you always and at every moment, not only in times of distress, so that when need arises we can be your hands and heart for others. We confess at times we forget you. Remind us even now. Amen.
Prayer of Dedication
In gratitude for your ever present help, O God, we offer you our gifts of time, talent, and treasure. Amen.
What’s Up with Pastor Todd 3-6-20
It’s week two of Lent. How is your adventure going? I’m happy to report I’ve been keeping to my discipline of increased daily prayer/meditation time. At the outset I wondered how my body would respond to increased time sitting in formal meditation posture. The biggest issue is that my feet tend to fall asleep. But, so far it hasn’t been a big problem. As I said on Ash Wednesday, the key to Lent for me is picking a discipline that’s doable.
This week’s Scripture is Psalm 121: “I lift my eyes to the hills–from where will my help come?” I memorized this Psalm as a child. Psalm 121 is one of the most well known psalms–second only to Psalm 23. Like Psalm 23, Psalm 121 speaks of God’s providence. One commentator writes that “this is a song for the anxious and afraid.” In a season of coronavirus and political uncertainty Psalm 121 is a timely text.
Psalm 121 is ancient poetry. One pastor describes poetry as “language for what matters most.” It’s language that speaks from and to that part of our brains that generally operates at the level of dreams, intuition, emotion, and our deepest values. It’s that part of ourselves that we struggled to access in our workshop last month on “What is Your ‘Why?’” Rev. Bamberg, who led the workshop, suggested that a sign we’re operating at the level is when the “tears start to come.” Some of us are more comfortable working at that level of spiritual depth than others, but all of us have the ability to access our deepest selves, and Psalm 121 is tool that can illuminate that space: like a spelunker’s headlamp or the hacker’s “back door” that offers access to the source code.
Our emotional source code was written by many hands: care-givers, parents, teachers, grandparents, siblings, mentors. Our minds weave their words and actions into scripts that play in our heads. Things happen and the scripts play: “You’re a failure,” “This isn’t so bad,” “We’ll be OK,” “The sky is falling!” “When will the other shoe drop.” Some voices are reassuring. Some are fearful and accusing. When for the psalmist voices of fear and accusation arose, she had Psalm 121 as a counter program: “The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever more.”
In times of anxiety Fred Rogers’ advice to children was “look for the helpers” because, he said, “if you look for the helpers, you’ll know that there’s hope.”
Holy God, we look to our future and wonder where it’s all headed: climate change, shrinking churches, the ever widening gap between rich and poor becomes so great that resolving it demands ever more radical solutions. Where should we look for help? Send your Spirit. Free our minds. Draw our hearts to rest in this very moment. Amen.
Prayer of Dedication
Holy God, as we offer our financial resources, help us examine how we invest our time and attention. Redirect our efforts toward growing your church. Amen.