august 9th, 2020 – psalm 13



Come friends.
Come with your grief.
Come with your loss.


Carry all the pieces of your heart
   and come sit with us.
Bring your disappointments
   and your failures.
Bring your betrayals
   and your masks.
You are welcome here no matter where you come from.
Kamand Kojouri

We Come
Our hearts are empty without You
     barren and cold
   but for the bold hope that You, Yourself planted within

In the mighty name of God
     in the saving name of Jesus
   in the strong name of the Spirit
We come   
   we cry
   we watch
   we wait
   we look
   we long for you
David Adam
Jim Croegaert
Hey Everyone!  I hope this past long weekend brought with it some extra time for you to do a few things you’ve wanted to get to – maybe, a project, or something fun, or just to put your feet up.  It’s hard to believe we’re already into August.  I’m glad to be able to be with you through the technology of waves and wires. 


This past week we had another fun round of Driveway Drop-Bys.  If you haven’t yet been able to participate, we are going to do one more on August 26.  Next week the registration link will be ready, but today I want to let you know about it so you can put it into your calendars, should you wish to be a part of it.


Brendon has an announcement regarding Emmanuel’s ninetieth anniversary…
Hey Connection, Happy Summer!  I trust you’ve been enjoying the warmth and beauty of this gorgeous time of year. 
I’d like to give you a heads up about an upcoming milestone in the history of Emmanuel.  The second Sunday in September will mark our 90th Anniversary as a church, and the Connection has been an integral part of Emmanuel’s story for the past twenty-one years.  We are planning to put together a video to mark the occasion and would like to ask you to contribute short video or audio clips with a one-sentence response to the question, “What do you appreciate about Emmanuel?”  Your response could be one word, a phrase, or a complete sentence, but just one, as we are hoping for at least ninety responses.  We’ve created a special email address for that purpose. It’s  
It would be really helpful for us if you could do this in the next few weeks so we can get working on it early.  Rob tells me that putting together so many video clips will take some time so please send them in early so we have lots of time to work on it. Thanks and Blessings!


And now, here’s Beverly…
Hi everyone.  Today I’m reading a story about one of my favourite events from the Bible.  It holds a very important message for all of us. No matter what our age is! It is found in Matthew 18,19, Mark 10 and Luke 18 too!   
I’ll be reading directly from the “Jesus Storybook Bible” book.  I love the way Sally Lloyd Jones tells this story.  Listen! 

Jesus’ friends were arguing.  Who was the most important helper in God’s kingdom?  They wanted to know.
“I am!”  James said.  
“No you’re not!” said Peter.  “Iam.”
“Nonsense,” Matthew said.  “I’m the cleverest!”
‘No, you’re not!”
“Yes, I am.”
This silliness went on and on like that for some time.  You see, Jesus’ friends had started thinking they had to do something to make themselves special to Jesus-that if they were the cleverest or the nicest or something, Jesus would like them best.   

But they had forgotten something.  Something God had been teaching his people all through the years:  that no matter how clever you are, or how good you are, or how rich you are, or how nice you are, or how important you are – none of it makes any difference.  Because God’s love is a gift and, as anyone will tell you, the whole thing about a gift is, it’s free.  All you have to do is reach out your hands and take it.  
So while Jesus’ friends were arguing, some people who knew all about getting gifts – in fact, you might say they were gift-experts – had come to see Jesus.  Who were they?  They were little children.   

Jesus’ helpers tried to send them away.  
“Jesus doesn’t have time for you!” they said.  “He’s too tired.”  

But they were wrong.  Jesus always had time for children.  
“Don’t ever send them away!” Jesus said.  “Bring the little ones to me.” 

Now, if you had been there, what do you think- would you have had to line up quietly to see Jesus?  Do you think Jesus would have asked you how good you’d been before he’d give you a hug?  Would you have had to be on your best behaviour?  And get dressed up?  And not speak until you’re spoken to?  Or…would you have done just what these children did – run straight up to Jesus and let him pick you up in his arms and then sit and listen to your stories and your chats?   

You see, children loved Jesus and they knew they didn’t need to do anything special for Jesus to love them.  All they needed to do was to run into his arms.  And so that’s just what they did.  
Well, after all the laughing and games, Jesus turned to his helpers and said, “No matter how big you grow, never grow up so much that you lose your child’s heart: full of trust in God.  Be like these children. They are the most important in my kingdom.”
Thanks Beverly.
We have been in a series that is focusing on Spiritual Formation.  Spiritual Formation is about working to become more like Jesus in how we think and act and what give our hearts to.  In working towards this end, there are practices that can help – prayer, meditation, reading the Bible, fasting, and actions of love for our neighbours.  We have been exploring some of these practices and are currently thinking about prayer and the psalms.
The psalms are shaped by the full spectrum of life experience.  Some speak to God’s dependability, faithfulness, and care while others question the very existence of God’s presence.  There are psalms depicting a loving, gracious, and forgiving Creator while others paint pictures of a God who turns God’s back on those who fail.  Some are filled with pain – they are dark, desperate, and even vengeful.  At the same time, there are psalms expressing joy, hope, love, and generosity. 
So just to recap, the theologian Walter Brueggemann suggests that human experience consists of movements between orientation, disorientation, and new orientation.  In the place of orientation life is good—it’s a season of well-being where things make sense, and there is gratitude for God’s ordering of life.  In disorientation, the ordered world comes undone.  It’s a season of anguish where life is turned upside down; sadness, anger, disillusionment bring questions about God’s ordering of life. And then in new orientation there is resolution of disorientation.  There is a surprise of new gifts from God.  A new and deeper place of orientation is established, along with an accompanying awareness of and gratitude for God’s faithfulness. 
The last couple of weeks we have engaged with psalms of orientation – written by poets and musicians experiencing a season of well-being.  But today we are going to explore a few of the psalms written by people in the dark times of disorientation.
Disorientation occurs when we lose our of sense direction.  Like getting turned around and heading the wrong way while navigating traffic in a new city,  or getting lost hiking after darkness sets in.  Sometimes we make a game of it.  Like blindfolding kids, spinning them around, and having them try to push a tack into the butt of a donkey on the wall.  But there is also a disorientation of spirit and soul.  Pain, disillusionment, grief, disappointment, anger, depression – the darkness that turns our world’s upside down – loss, betrayal, broken promises, rebellion, sickness, injustice, isolation, being passed over, being attacked, and so much more.  The things that make us question, especially question God.
But ironically, there seems to be a certain stigma in which we can’t be honest in church about our questions and disillusionment and struggles.  There seems to be an unwritten rule that following God means that we can’t acknowledge or embrace negativity.  To do so would mean that we are failing God or acting unfaithfully towards God. And so often we pretend that life is good, or at least okay.
And yet the psalms pay tribute to these places of darkness.  The psalmists cry out on our behalf.  Their poetry and music leads us into the presence of God where everything is not civil or polite.  Our unspeakable thoughts are written, our unutterable words are given voice.  Sometimes the psalmists wrote as personal laments, other times they wrote on behalf of the community.  But their words are flung into the darkness of disorientation, asking the Creator for answers and actions.
Listen to these words from Psalm 77…
I cry aloud to God;
    I cry aloud, and he hears me.
In times of trouble I pray to the Lord;
    all night long I lift my hands in prayer,
    but I cannot find comfort.
When I think of God, I sigh;
    when I meditate, I feel discouraged.
I spend the night in deep thought;
    I meditate, and this is what I ask myself:
Has the Lord stopped loving us?
    Does his promise no longer stand?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
    Has anger taken the place of his compassion?”
Have you ever felt this?  Felt like you’ve been praying, you’ve been trusting, you’ve been calling out but nothing ever changes.  And then it occurs to you that maybe God doesn’t care?  That God maybe stopped loving you, that his promises don’t mean anything for you.
I have.  I have so many questions about things that have happened in my life, or in the lives of those around me.  Moments when I think my prayers are pointless.
And yet, the interesting thing is that I still address my complaints, my questions, my pain, my inner turmoil to God.
Walter Brueggemann says this about the psalms of disorientation:
For the psalmists, whatever needed to be said about their experiences, even scandalous and without redeeming social value, they needed to be said directly to God.  They recognized that they did not have to protect God’s sensitivities because God is the Lord of human experience and partners with us in it.  Their words serve in a remarkable way to both speak of the collapse of all oriented forms, and yet to assure that even in the chaos of the experiences there is God-directed order.  That God holds both darkness and light alike.
In other words, God has the ability to hold space for dark and painful places.  And more so, not just able to hold space for it, but welcomes us in those places, and is present with us in the disorientation.
In most of the psalms of disorientation there is an interesting pattern that can be seen.  These psalms always have a plea laid out to God.  Maybe it’s a complaint, or a petition, or an expression of disappointment, but it’s always personally addressed to God.  And the psalmists expect that God should, maybe even would, do something about it.  But the other component of most of the psalms of disorientation is that they also have an element of praise.  There is a movement from plea to praise in the writing. Their honesty in speaking candidly to God seems to create a window of imagination in which the psalmist to recognize new possibilities of God’s faithfulness.
Let’s go back to Psalm 77 and hear these words…
Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
    I will remember your great deeds, Lord;
I will recall the wonders you did in the past.
    I will think about all that you have done;
I will meditate on all your mighty acts.”
Though the psalmist began by laying out feelings of disappointment and disillusionment to God, there is a moment, when in the psalmists spirit, something shifts.  The psalmist’s thinking and imagination is drawn towards previous moments and experiences in life when God had been faithful and active.  And so for the psalmist, and maybe even for us, this creates some ability to entertain an idea that there could be new possibilities of God’s faithfulness. 
Now of course it would be disrespectful to suggest that to move out of disorientation one should just follow this formula.  But it does seem that as we pour our souls out to Jesus, his presence has the ability to lift our spirits and spark faith.
So today we are going to finish the liturgy by giving ourselves the opportunity to let disorientation guide our prayers.  There are two songs that will underpin our time of prayer.  The first is a song of lament and the second is song of new possibility.  I will read Psalm Thirteen, twice.  Following each reading there will be a sung response, which will then be followed by an opportunity for you to give voice your own prayers.
As you hear the psalm and the sung response, listen for words or phrases that capture your attention – interact with them, and then try and use the words or phrases in a conversation with Jesus.  Is there a plea, or complaint, or lament you have?  Tell him the things you are feeling – the things that disappoint you, the pain you feel, describe your place of disorientation, the things you need help with and for, the things you are struggling with. 
It’s ok, you can speak openly and freely to Jesus.
Let’s take a few moments to settle in and then we’ll begin…

Psalm 13
 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?
 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
 But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.
Heavy Rope
Strange hands, taking my wrist again
   somehow, I’m still alone
Voices, shaking my steps again
   I, follow
I’m a, little bit on the edge
   holed up, hand out of reach
I can’t, hear much of what you said
   come for me
Don’t let me tumble away
   into the throws of the shadowy bay
I cling to the rock, and it’s crumbling off
   toss me a heavy rope
It’s a slippery slope
Come bail me out of this godforsaken precipice
   come bail me out of this godforsaken precipice
Turned up, in this old place again
   can’t seem, to get away
Take me back to my element
    I’m afraid
Oh I’m not a lost cause
   I’m just stuck in this spot
And I’m close to falling off
   so toss me a heavy rope
It’s a slippery slope

Come bail me out of this godforsaken precipice
   come bail me out of this godforsaken precipice
Thomas Salter
Lights (Valerie Poxleitner)

Psalm 13

 O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?
    How long will you look the other way?
 How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
    with sorrow in my heart every day?
    How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
    Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
 Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!”
    Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.
 But I trust in your unfailing love.
    I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
 I will sing to the Lord
    because he is good to me.
Come and Listen
Come and listen
     come to the water’s edge
   all you who know and fear the Lord
Come and listen
     come to the water’s edge
   all you who are thirsty come
Let me tell you what
     He has done for me
Let me tell you what
     He has done for me
He has done for you
     He has done for us
Come and listen
     come and listen to what He’s done
Come and listen
     come and listen to what He’s done
Praise our God for He is good
     praise our God for He is good
Praise our God for He is good
     praise our God for He is good
He has done for me
     He has done for you
   He has done for us
Come and listen
     come and listen to what He’s done
Come and listen
     come and listen to what He’s done
David Crowder

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