Our speaker this week, Delia Hammond, is a beautiful person inside and out. A member of the Coop and a huge supporter of our outreach ministries and organizer of Saturday Morning Breakfast, Delia is a vision of living into her faith. Thank you Delia for your willingness to write for us today, and speak for us Sunday.
In the Episcopal Church Psalm 40 is listed in the Lectionary as one to be used on the second Sunday of Epiphany. We are actually using it for the seventh Sunday after Pentecost. However, it is relevant for any day or season of the liturgical year or indeed season of our lives.
Psalm 40 was written by David. We are not sure at what time in his life he wrote it and he may have written it in two parts. Our focus is on the first part verses 1 – 10. Some scholars say that this Psalm is a prayer of thanksgiving, or a song of thanksgiving and deliverance. Others say it is a song about pits, falling into pits and what to do when in one. I believe this Psalm has great meaning and purpose for us as we journey together through this time of transition and anticipation at the CoOp
In verse 1 we read that David, the psalmist has “waited patiently” for the Lord. The Hebrew verbal root here is qavah, which carries the idea of “hopeful anticipation” or “anxious waiting.” I believe that is an accurate descriptor of where we find ourselves at the CoOp right now! We might be feeling anxious as we wait for our interim pastor to arrive on September 1st but I hope that our anticipation, is hopeful!
But wait we must! And apparently we should wait patiently! For me and maybe for you waiting patiently is almost impossible. My timing is not God’s timing and maybe one day I will understand that completely. Waiting with patience is a virtue, I for one, still need to learn and maybe one day I will master!
The Psalm continues with thankful acknowledgement to God for hearing the psalmist’s cry for help, for rescuing him from the pit of despair, from the bog and mire and setting him upon a hard, firm path and steadying him as he walked along. I hope we don’t feel like we are in a pit of despair but certainly we are in a time of transition. It is comforting to know that if God lifted David out of such seemingly dire circumstances, set him on solid ground and continued to walk with him, then certainly God will do the same for us.
David responds by celebrating the work of God with singing and proclaims: “He has given me a new song to sing, of praises to our God.” I pray that over time we will celebrate what God is doing for us here and we will sing a new song.
Many blessings are given to those who trust the Lord says the Psalmist. David is trying to describe a deep sense of contentment that is above and beyond the feeling of happiness. It is not a fleeting emotion but a deeply rooted feeling of calm peace. David attempts to describe the huge pile of miracles that God has performed and he exclaims that the list is so long there will never be enough time to tell of them all. Typically in his time, people would have thanked God by bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, but he somehow understands that God doesn’t want those things. David acknowledges that the deep contentment he feels isn’t derived from the things that the world worships, or from listening to the shallow words of the proud, it comes from trusting in God.
Oh that we might feel that same deep sense of contentment and profound trust that comes only from God. While we might feel anxious about the uncertain times ahead, we really have nothing to fear if together we put our trust and hope in God to guide us.
So here is a collective challenge for us as we move forward together: Let us keep our eyes wide open. Let us acknowledge God in all things and in all circumstances. Let us look for the silver lining which God promises us does exist no matter how negative the situation might feel at the time. As a church, as the body of Christ, let us move forward together, looking for God’s miracles, offering praise and thanksgiving with such confidence and contentment that we are compelled to sing a new song to all who gather here both inside and outside these walls. Above all, may we put our faith and trust 100% in God. Oh, and you know, you could take this on as a personal challenge too, just as David did. What a beautiful world we would have if we each sung a new song of loving kindness and truth.
Psalm 40: 1-10 – The Living Bible
I waited patiently for God to help me; then he listened and heard my cry. 2 He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and the mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path, and steadied me as I walked along. 3 He has given me a new song to sing, of praises to our God. Now many will hear of the glorious things he did for me, and stand in awe before the Lord, and put their trust in him. 4 Many blessings are given to those who trust the Lord and have no confidence in those who are proud or who trust in idols.
5 O Lord my God, many and many a time you have done great miracles for us, and we are ever in your thoughts. Who else can do such glorious things? No one else can be compared with you. There isn’t time to tell of all your wonderful deeds. 6 It isn’t sacrifices and offerings that you really want from your people. Burnt animals bring no special joy to your heart. But you have accepted the offer of my lifelong service.[a] 7 Then I[b] said, “See, I have come, just as all the prophets foretold. 8 And I delight to do your will, my God, for your law is written upon my heart!” 9 I have told everyone the good news that you forgive people’s sins.[c] I have not been timid about it, as you well know, O Lord. 10 I have not kept this good news hidden in my heart, but have proclaimed your loving-kindness and truth to all the congregation.
The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow. Don’t give up – Robert Tew
The triumph can’t be had without the struggle – Wilma Rudolph
Always seek out the seed of triumph in every adversity – Og Mandino
The silver lining – A hopeful or comforting prospect in the midst of difficulty. When you search for the positives during difficult circumstances, you begin to find peace on the other side. That is the silver lining. – Until She Flies
The struggle of life is one of our greatest blessings. It makes us patient, sensitive and Godlike. It teaches us that although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it – Helen Keller
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassions, gentleness and deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen. – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
When have you been in a pit? What did you learn from it and how were you blessed by the circumstances?
When have you experienced a time of hopeful anticipation or anxious waiting? How did you cope with that?
What are some of the positive things you already see coming out of the transition here at the CoOp?