The Plush Silence of Heaven (Psalm 82)

This is the message I gave this past Sunday based on Psalm 82.

God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk around in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

I say, “You are gods, children of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, you shall die like mortals, and fall like any prince.”

Rise up, O God, judge the earth; for all the nations belong to you!

(Psalms 82:1–8 NRSV)

When God Woke Up This Morning

(a fictional retelling of a day in the life of God)

It’s morning already? God rolls over and hits the alarm. Another few minutes to snooze when you are the Almighty is certainly justifiable. But finally, God cannot ignore the day’s work and so with a woolen bathrobe from Pendleton – not that God’s all about brands but this is fantastic – and a favorite pair of fuzzy slippers hand-knitted by the Holy Spirit, God strolls downstairs to fix coffee and to take in the morning news.

Events this morning are as bleak as ever. Continue reading The Plush Silence of Heaven (Psalm 82)

Portraits of Failure, Communion of Love

Portraits of Failure

A man named Asaph is believed to be the author of the Psalm. It is about his wrestling with his own failure and the near miss of being sucked into the illusion of measuring life in relation to successes and failures.

“No doubt about it! God is good— good to good people, good to the good-hearted. But I nearly missed it, missed seeing his goodness. I was looking the other way, looking up to the people At the top, envying the wicked who have it made, Who have nothing to worry about, not a care in the whole wide world.” (Psalms 73:1–5 MESSAGE)

What I like about this Psalm is that I think it gives us a spiritual roadmap for how to come to terms with failure and how to move beyond it.

[I recognize that talking about failure, naming our failures openly is really hard to do. There is a lot of pain that resides within this conversation. I hope that the discussion today will not create more shame or stigma around failure but actually open us up some to be able to talk more freely about our own setbacks, fiascos, and failed attempts.]

To start I want to share a few failure stories with you that come from the issue of Geez Magazine called “After Failure.” Continue reading Portraits of Failure, Communion of Love

Where the Sidewalk Ends (Psalm 44)

This is an adapted version of a message I gave this past Sunday. It draws on themes from Psalm 44.

As I have been reflecting on the theme of lament I realized that lament is the byproduct of those communities trying to live out faithfulness in a world.

A community that is trying to embody the peaceable kingdom in a world so hell-bent on violence will become accustomed to lament.

A community working to embody love and welcome the stranger in a world that constantly builds up us against them and rivalry over the other will become accustomed to lament.

Lament is the bitter pill we as a community swallow when we seek to be faithful and compassionate people following Jesus.

After all, how well did this all worked out for Jesus? He too was accustom to lament: weeping over the death of his friend, longing to gather Jerusalem as a hen gathers her chicks, crying – or raging? – out that God had forsaken him. Jesus, the one who comes as the man of peace, was also very much a man of sorrows.

So I guess my question is: what does it mean to be a people of lament, a community of lament? Continue reading Where the Sidewalk Ends (Psalm 44)

Lament: Brought to Speech (Psalm 13)

What is Lament?

In January for the past 4 or 5 years we’ve participated in Peace Month with other churches from our Yearly Meeting. This January our focus is Lament and peace. We are going to talk about personal lament, communal lament, and more.

You may wonder the connection between these two. What does lament have to do with peace?

But before we get there I want us to explore what is lament?

Q: What are some words that come to mind for you when you think of lament?

I want to start today with one of our favorite Shel Silverstein poems:

title

Continue reading Lament: Brought to Speech (Psalm 13)