july 26th, 2020 – psalm 145

Let’s pray:
Compassionate God we come to you in our need
   confessing to you what we often
  dare not admit to ourselves:
It is hard to celebrate life
   when faced with the mystery of death.
It is hard to look to the future when surrounded
    by the uncertainty of the present;
  it is hard to embrace the day
   when hope is eclipsed by despair.
Help us this day to know you and find you
   in the whole of life—in its beginnings
  and in its endings.
May we discover you in our pain as well as our joy,
   in our doubts as well as our believing.
Help us to receive this day, and in the days to come,
   comfort from your word and light for our darkness.
Gravity of Love


I lift my eyes up to the hills
     this my morning song

   where my strength comes from

I lift my eyes up to the hills
     this my evening song
   where my help comes from
This is the gravity of love
     just as the moon follows the sun
You’re all around me
     You’re holding everything
This is the hope of every land
     just as the universe expands
You’re love is reaching
     You’re holding everything
We lift our eyes up to the hills
     when will our help come
   Lord we cry how long
We lift our eyes up to the hills
     even as we run
   hope is chasing us
John Arndt
David Gungor
Matt Maher
Hi everyone.  I’m Beverly Toth hoping that you all are having a good summer.  It’s a different summer, but can still be a good summer.  I want to say a huge howdy to the boys and girls listening.  I love you, I’m praying for you. I miss you like crazy.  
Today I want to read from one of the psalms.  The first four verses of Psalm 105 read like this.  
“Go ahead and give God thanks for all the glorious things he has done.  Go ahead and worship him.  Tell everyone about his wonders!  Let’s sing his praises!  Sing, and put all of his miracles to music!  Shine and make your joyful boast in him, you lovers of God.  Let’s be happy and keep rejoicing no matter what.  Seek more of his strength.  Seek more of him!  Let’s always be seeking the light of his face.”  
Whew!  Those words are a good reminder to me.  We have so much we can praise God for.  So much to be thankful about. 
We can praise God for the incredible bodies we have, for the amazing world around us, and for people who care for us. Take a minute right now, and praise God!  Tell God what you are thankful for.
Let me start.  
I love You God.  I praise you for so many things like the rainbow I saw in the prairie sky this past week.  Thank You for your great Love for me and for all people.  Thank You for sending Jesus and Holy Spirit to us.
Boys and girls, like Psalm 105:1 says….’Go ahead and give God thanks for all the glorious things he has done.  Go ahead and worship Him!’ 

Trinity Song
Holy Father, Son and Spirit
     holy Communion, three-in-one
Come with your peace, with your invitation
     bind us together in Holy Love
Sandra McCracken

Hey everyone – though it’s disappointing not to be able to see you face to face, it’s good to be with you through the technology of waves and wires.  I hope the weekend has given opportunity for you to do some things that bring rest and life to your souls.
Just a reminder that we are going to do our second ‘Driveway Drop-Bys’ on August 5th   The first one was really fun and provided a super easy way to see some people from the connection community.  The ideas is that on August 5th, between 7 and 8:30 pm, you’ll be set up with three, fifteen minute visits, with other people from the connection community. (For those who may feel nervous about generating conversation out of thin air, we’ll also provide a couple of questions that you can use to get started.)   You can sign up as either a host or as a traveller.  You can sign up as a household, by yourself, or with a couple of people in your ‘bubble.’   Once we see who’s interested, well set up a schedule, and send it out.  If you are able, please register by Monday, August 3 at 6 pm.  If you’re interested, just click on the registration link below the link for this liturgy.
We are going to be continuing in our series around spiritual formation and prayer for a few more weeks.  In the coming weeks we will use psalms to lead us in prayer – which is really about forming prayers around Scripture.  This week we will be using a practice call Lectio Divina.  A direct translation from Latin is ‘Reading Divine’ but the transliteration is Sacred Reading or Divine Reading.  It is an ancient practice of hearing or reading the same piece of Scripture several times, meditating, paying attention to and reflecting on words or phrases that capture your imagination, and then responding to Jesus through prayer and action.  The Lectio part of the liturgy will be available to download so that you can use it again during the week should you wish.
What we refer to as the Book of Psalms is a collection of one hundred fifty poems, many of which were set to a melody and designed to be sung in community.  According to the  the headings of the psalms we are able to identify some of the people who wrote the psalms.  David wrote seventy-three of the psalms, Asaph and his sons (who David appointed as temple worship leaders) wrote twelve, the sons of Korah (the Korahite singers) wrote ten, Solomon wrote two, Moses wrote one, Ethan the Ezrahite wrote one, and Heman the Ezrahite coauthored one with the sons of Korah.  That leaves fifty psalms whose authorship is unknown but likely written by a variety of people over many years.  I mention this because it I think it’s important to realize that the psalms represent a wide variety of people’s experiences, thoughts, cries, and prayers.  For me, it feels encouraging to know that I am not alone, that we are not alone in the things I feel or think about or ask of God.
Some of the psalms 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.  It doesn’t take long to discover that the personal experiences of the writers shaped the way they wrote; their vantage points shifting as life circumstances changed. The psalmists were ok in honest offerings of their experiences, secure in their understanding that God had the ability to hold both tensions on their behalf.  That is good news for us because it means that we can express to God our questions, our anger, our fear, our pain, and our critique without it negating our love for God and our desire to follow after God.  God has the ability to hold space for all of our experiences – even the ones that seem contradictory – to make it possible for us to find our way into a deeper place.
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—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. 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.  In his book The Spirituality of the Psalms, Brueggemann points out that the themes of the different psalms fall into these three categories.  So the psalms are a place that we can read  and reflect on written songs and prayers reflecting experiences of orientation, disorientation, and new orientation.
However, life is not static.  There is always movement from one circumstance to another.  It can happen throughout a day, a week, a month, a year, and in multiple, overlapping ways.  In other words, it seems that our lives are always in transition between settled orientation into disorientation and from disorientation to new orientation.
This week I had the beginning of the third chapter of Ecclesiastes rolling around in my head.
There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.
Often I’ve read this words as they pertain to my personal seasons of life, my circumstances, my experiences or in a singular context for a group.  Like in a visioning meeting identifying that a coming year will be a time to build.  (Or maybe in your head you’re also hearing Ren say, ‘There was a time for this law, but not anymore…this is our time to dance.’  No – just me, ok.)  It can be easy to forget that not everyone experiences life in the same way.  But this week these words reminded me that while there are general things that we collectively have in common (such as the pandemic) our experiences of and the corresponding seasons of life we find ourselves in are varying.
I don’t think in our lifetimes there will ever be a time in which all of our seasons for every activity perfectly align.  Some will celebrate birth while others grieve death, some will be silent while others will speak, some will give up while others continue to search, some will be surprised with joy while other lament.
I say this because we need to recognize as we approach the psalms, that we will all read and experience them in different ways based on the situations we find ourselves in.  Not all of us will be experiencing new orientation and not all of us with be grappling with disorientation. So for some a particular psalm will feel like the softest warm blanket and to others it will feel like being wrapped in pink insulation.  Sometimes a psalm will paint a picture for us of where we hope to find ourselves and for others the same psalm describes their place of orientation.  For some the heavy laments create a feeling of kindred spirit and identification and for others the words feel uncomfortable and dark. 
So in these coming weeks we will read, consider, and prayer through different psalms.  The intent is to open up ourselves to Jesus as he opens himself to us.
Today we are going to spend time in Psalm 145.  It is a psalm written by David after a period of being in captivity.  It a joyous psalm that expresses grateful confidence in God as Creator and offers praise to the One who cares for and provides for all.   You may currently be a place that feels more like Psalm 137 – like, how can I sing while I am in this foreign and disorientating place.  That’s a hard place to be – and I’m sorry that is what life feels like right now.  So there is potential that Psalm 145 will feel disappointing to you – that there will be places that you don’t resonate with what the psalmist has written, or your current experience seems contradictory to the very concrete description of God.  Perhaps those are the things that will guide your conversation with God.  Or if it’s too disheartening, you don’t have to listen.  But for me, even in my places of questions, disillusionment, and disappointment, it is encouraging to know that others who have felt theses things too, And God is able to hold space for those dark and painful places.  So in whatever place you are in, may this psalm open your heart to God.
During the first reading, listen for words or phrases that stand out to you.  It may be something that is encouraging, or a comfort, or something that raises a question or some dissonance.  It may even be both.  Allow the words to arise from the psalm, as if it is God’s word for you today.  Let your mind turn the words or phrases over and over…
During the second reading, interact with the words and phrases that stood out to you.  Is there some way you can put yourself into the psalmist’s picture of God?  Ask yourself how the words or phrases intersect with your life.  What about the words or phrases connect your experiences and the things you are feeling?   What are they telling you about yourself and about God?
During third reading begin to form words to God.  Can you find a way to use the words or phrases that stood out to you in a prayer to God?  Tell God of the things you are feeling – the things that encourage you, the things that disappoint you, the things you need help for, the things you are thankful for.  Is there some action that goes along with what you are feeling – something you need to let go of, to take on, to make right, to physically do?
O God,
   when I think of tomorrow
  I do not know what it will bring,
So please help me to be ready for whatever may come.
If I am to stand up,
   help me to stand bravely.
If I am to sit still,
   help me to sit quietly.
If I am to lie low,
   help me to do it patiently.
If I am to do nothing,
   let me do it gallantly.
I pray for the coming day,
   for those twenty-four hours.
For the ability to cooperate with others
   according to the way Jesus taught us to live.
“Your kingdom come,
   your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
May these words that he taught us
   become more than words.
May your Spirit inspire me
   as I move through the day,
  interacting, making choices,
and taking in what’s around me.
And at the end of the day may I look back
   and recognize your presence in my life.
John Veltri
Praise the Father
Who is the one to whom you belong
    who in your weakness has made you strong
  who fills your heart with joyful song
   it is the Lord your God


Praise the Father, praise the Son
   Praise the Spirit, three in One
Who was and is and is to come
   All praise and honour and glory and power
O praise His name forever


Who is the One with whom you will be
    from highest mountain to darkest valley
  who is the One who in you dwells
   it is the Lord your God
Gord Johnson

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