June 2, 2020 – Barb Haddon

PSALM 146

Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

I will praise the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.

He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
    the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

10 The Lord reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the Lord.

GOSPEL Matthew 13:54-58

54  Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56  Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57  And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.” 58  And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

MEDITATION

I grew up in a “tall steeple” (Literally, a 3 tiered “wedding cake steeple”!) in the heart of Phoenix, AZ., with a sanctuary that seated 1,000 people.  My parents were both elders, and respected by the community.  As I was finishing my seminary training, it became very important to my father than I be invited to preach in my home church. (Local girl makes good!)  However, he and the pastor at the time were frequently at odds, and the pastor was not disposed to share the pulpit.  Finally, my dad literally pounded on the pastor’s desk, and demanded that I be invited to preach.  As I remember, it was far from my best sermon, and the congregation greeted me as they would any returning child. Unlike Jesus, I did not present them with a life-changing choice, and while they did not expel me, they didn’t see me as any kind of prophetic voice either!

Jesus had just returned from his hometown from a “road trip.”  He had met with mixed success, feeling that people had heard his words but failed to take their meaning to heart, or even to understand their meaning.  I imagine that he had come to “regroup”; to catch up with his family, to renew old ties, perhaps to rest.  As a visiting rabbi, he was invited to preach.  He was not received as “local boy makes good.”  His neighbors couldn’t get past the young man whom they had known as the carpenter’s son.  They were offended that this young upstart had the nerve to offer them life changing choices, and they rejected him.  As a result, they were not able to benefit from the healings and comfort that he brought to many who were not part of his upbringing.  He must have been sadly disappointed.

I wonder how many times we miss life changing experiences because we reject both religious and secular leaders when they call us to change our opinions, challenge our pre-conceived ideas, or examine our prejudices.  Change is difficult, and our natural reaction is to resist and to attempt to maintain the status quo.  That was my experience at the beginning of the pandemic.  I resented the changes that limited my freedom and cut out the things that I enjoyed.  It took weeks to adjust to the fact that the changes were for my safety.

As we progress toward a “new normal,” may we be open to change, willing to hear a variety of voices, accepting of the challenges ahead as we hear the voice of God in the midst of what seems like chaos gently calling to us “Behold, I am doing a new thing!”

PSALM 99

1  The Lord reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake.
2  Great is the Lord in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations.
3  Let them praise your great and awesome name- he is holy.
4  The King is mighty, he loves justice- you have established equity; in Jacob you have done what is just and right.
5  Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy.
6  Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel was among those who called on his name; they called on the Lordand he answered them.
7  He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud; they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.
8  Lord our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds.
9  Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the Lord our God is holy.


June 1, 2020 – Barb Haddon

PSALM 145:13-21 New International Version (NIV)

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures through all generations.

The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises
and faithful in all he does.[a]
14 The Lord upholds all who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and faithful in all he does.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.

21 My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.
Let every creature praise his holy name
for ever and ever.

GOSPEL:  Matthew 13:44-46

The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

 MEDITATION

 The preceding parables, the mustard seed and the yeast, describe God’s action with humanity; bringing great things from tiny beginnings.  Today’s parables speak of human response to God’s action.  They seem appropriate to the time we are experiencing.  With COVID-19 still raging, and riots and demonstrations across our nation, each literally inflaming the other, indeed it seems that God’s actions are like the treasure hidden in the field or one pearl of value found among lesser gems.  Indeed, we might ask – “where IS God in all of this?”

I firmly reject the idea that God caused these tragedies to “shake us up” or to bring about change, but believe instead that the virus is no different from other pandemics  (approximately one every 100 years) except that it is more virulent, not yet understood, and with the ability to spread like wildfire. Added to that, we hear about it instantly, with daily or even hourly updates, rather than having to wait days or even weeks.  The riots, I think, are a combination of a genuine cry for justice and the result of pent-up emotions based on an abrupt change in lifestyle, a sense of deprivation, fear, and impatience with being “cooped-up” for months.

So – where is God In all of this?  Where God ALWAYS IS!  God is always PRESENT with us! It is that presence that is God’s gift to us, in good time and in difficult times.  God is indeed like the valued pearl, hidden in our midst; like the treasure; buried and yet waiting to be discovered. The finding, the awareness, the response, is up to us.  We can find God in the close communities we are developing, even at a distance.  We can find God in the healing of our planet, and the greater appreciation of God in nature. (I have become more acutely aware of the beauty of blooming flowers, and in the progress of the pregnant deer who lives across the fence from us!)   We can find God in the kindness we experience in human contact.  We can find God in the patient work of first responders and caregivers who continue to extend themselves at personal risk.  We can find God in the extra time we take to slow our pace, spend more time in prayer and meditation.  Each of us may have had personal experiences in which we had a special “aha” when we received a new insight – indeed the feeling of finding the best pearl in the bunch!

God is a God of relationship, and relationship is a two way street.  If we would see God, we must spend time not only seeking, but also responding!

Blessings on you as you begin the week in search of pears and treasure!

Psalm 47[a]

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.

Clap your hands, all you nations;
shout to God with cries of joy.

For the Lord Most High is awesome,
the great King over all the earth.
He subdued nations under us,
peoples under our feet.
He chose our inheritance for us,
the pride of Jacob, whom he loved.[b]

God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth;
sing to him a psalm of praise.

God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on his holy throne.
The nobles of the nations assemble
as the people of the God of Abraham,
for the kings[c] of the earth belong to God;
he is greatly exalted.


May 30, 2020 – Murray Richmond

Morning Psalm 92

1   It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
2   to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
3   to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
4   For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

5   How great are your works, O LORD!
Your thoughts are very deep!
6   The dullard cannot know,
the stupid cannot understand this:
7   though the wicked sprout like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they are doomed to destruction forever,
8        but you, O LORD, are on high forever.
9   For your enemies, O LORD,
for your enemies shall perish;
all evildoers shall be scattered.

10  But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox;
you have poured over me fresh oil.
11  My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants.

12  The righteous flourish like the palm tree,
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13  They are planted in the house of the LORD;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
14  In old age they still produce fruit;
they are always green and full of sap,
15  showing that the LORD is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Gospel Reading Matthew 9:18-26

18While he was saying these things to them, suddenly a leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” 19And Jesus got up and followed him, with his disciples. 20Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, 21for she said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.” 22Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. 23When Jesus came to the leader’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, 24he said, “Go away; for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. 25But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. 26And the report of this spread throughout that district.

Meditation

One of the hardest things about these days is not being able to touch people. I am so used to shaking hands, it feels weird not to. Many of the unhoused people who live around the church expect a hug when we meet or part, and it is hard to push them away. I know they want that touch, because that is one of the few times they experience positive touch by another person.

Of all the things that are hard about staying-in-place, one of the hardest is loss of human contact, especially for people who live alone.

In today’s Gospel Lesson, two things are going on. The first is Jesus healing the leader of the Synagogue’s daughter. Barb did a wonderful job this week when talking about the healing of the Centurion’s servant, and I cannot add to what she said. So let’s look at the woman who touched Jesus.

Who is she? We don’t know. All we know about her is that she is a woman, and she was suffering from hemorrhages for 12 years. Both of those things disqualify her from touching a man, especially a teacher like Jesus. Women do not touch men in that culture, and her condition makes her ceremoniously unclean. Touching Jesus was a superbig no-no.

In today’s world it would be like a person who was identified as having the corona virus went around touching people. Imagine how you would feel is that person hugged you! By touching Jesus, she made him unclean in the eyes of the Hebrew Law found in the Old Testament.

Jesus knows immediately that he as been touched, and what is his response? “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” He understood both her desperation, as well as her faith. “If only I touch the hem of his garment…”

Jesus could have had her arrested for what she did. But instead he accepted her. He understood her. And he healed her.

Many different people “touch” us and our Christian Community here at First. Some of them are considered untouchable by society as a whole. But we welcome their touch, and embrace them in return. (Well, right now I mean that symbolically.)

In this story touch is healing. In life, touch is healing.

At this time we are not able to touch people physically. How can we touch them emotionally and spiritually?

Evening Psalm 23

1   The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2        He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
3        he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.

4   Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff —
they comfort me.

5   You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6   Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
my whole life long.


May 29, 2020 – Murray Richmond

Morning Psalm 2

Why do the nations conspire,
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and his anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds asunder,
and cast their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord has them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.”

I will tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to me, “You are my son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron,
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
with trembling 12 kiss his feet,[a]
or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way;
for his wrath is quickly kindled.

Happy are all who take refuge in him. 

Meditation

 One night, around 1 am, my doorbell rang. Even in the Alaskan summer, when it is still light at that time, and people tend to stay up late hours, that was unusual. I opened the door and found my son standing there with a police officer. He had been spending the night with a friend. Steven looked very afraid, and said, “I didn’t do anything,” and rushed past me into the house.

The police officer smiled, and said, “I saw your son with a couple of other boys out past curfew. I wouldn’t have done anything, but when they saw me, they ran, so I had to see if they were up to anything. They weren’t, but I thought I should bring your boy home.”

For me that night, it was a minor inconvenience, and for Steven, a life lesson. But many parents are not that fortunate. It is with great sadness that I write these words. If my son had been black, and met the wrong cop, he would have been shot.

For those of you who know Steven, imagine what life would be like without him. Imagine what I would be like, if that night, instead of receiving a friendly life lesson, my son was killed.

I don’t know about you, but I watched with horror the incident between George Floyd and the police. I watched as he was laying on the ground, a police officer’s knee on this neck, moaning and saying that he could not breathe. I watched as bystanders, one of them an EMT, tried to tell the police they were killing Forbes. And I watched as they dragged his lifeless body to the ambulance, after eight minutes of having officer Derek Chauvin’s knee pressing on his carotid artery.

The names of unarmed black man and women who have died at the hands of law enforcement officers is long, and depressing to see. I know that law enforcement can be dangerous. I know the police have a tough job. But why is it that we rarely if ever see cased of officers shooting unarmed white men.

And then last night, I watched as an angry mob burned down station house #3 in Minneapolis. I cannot imagine their anger, because when my son ran from a police officer, he was just kindly escorted home, not shot and killed.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

–Romans 8:22-25

I want to put this in biblical perspective. It would be too easy to condemn the protesters. Very few of us really understand their rage. Few of us have endured the injustices they endured. We can all look at these events and know that the world is pretty messed up. Justice, a very biblical virtue, is so often perverted, or ignored. What does it mean for the family of George Forbes to receive justice? What does it mean for a black father to have “the talk” with his kids, where he tells them the way the world is. “If you get stopped by a policemen, you could get killed.”

Paul tells us that all creation is groaning. It groans with injustice. It groans with hatred, with prejudice, and with violence. It groans with grinding poverty that dehumanizes people, and, in the eyes of Latin American theologian Jon Sobrino, is in fact an act of violence against the poor. It groans with the divisions between people.

If you watched the news last night, you saw creation groaning. Groaning is rarely pretty or easy to watch. The anger of a community who knows the system is stacked against them has exploded with groaning. In the midst of all this we have learned that Blacks are more prone to die of COVID-19 than other groups, because of limited access to health care. And the sad truth is, we know that George Forbes will not be the last unarmed black man to die at the hands of law enforcement.

It would be easy to rush in with judgments right now. But first must come a time of prayer. But how do we pray? What is our prayer in the face of the injustices we are witnessing?

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

—Romans 8:26-27

The spirit groans with creation, and with our inability to even form the right prayers for the situation. This is the kind of prayer where we look up to heaven and ask, “Why?” Where we groan, “How long?” This is the kind of prayer that cannot be expressed in words. The is the prayer that arises from a deep place inside of us, the kind of prayer that emerges from our gut as we stand beside the hospital bed of someone we love, as we wrestle with our own inner demons, as we watch the world burn. This is the prayer of someone who has been struck down by injustice, and who can only groan with agony.

That is the kind of prayer we need to engage in before we make any judgments about the right or wrongs of actions and reactions.

We might ask “Where was God during all this?” God was laying on the ground, with a knee on his neck. God was standing in the midst of the inferno of station house #3. God is in the tears of family members and friends who mourn. That may sound strange, but God cannot redeem creation from a distance. God must be in the middle of the mess, and only then can we really see the redemptive power of the almighty.

Kind of like Jesus on the cross.

28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Romans 8:28-30

Romans 8:28 is one of the most comforting passages in all of Scripture, but also one of the most misquoted. Too often when people quote it, what the mean is, “Nothing bad can really happen to you.” That is far from the truth.

When Paul says, “All things work together for good,” he did not mean, “all good things.” He meant all things. He meant that the justice will meet injustice, and the injustices will be real, but God’s justice is stronger. He meant that love will encounter hate, but hate will not win. He meant that our unity in Christ will encounter divisions, but in the end, unity will win. He meant that Truth will encounter lies, but it is the Truth that will set us free.

We may not see the culmination in our lifetime. We may possibly view it from the other side of eternity. We may encounter injustices in our lives, we may encounter hate, we may encounter divisions, but those are, in the grand scheme of God, only momentary diversions.

In the meantime we do what we can to fight injustice. My wife just opened up a bank account with a Black bank, to help transfer money into Black communities where it is badly needed. I am learning Spanish, so we can do something to overcome the barriers between the Anglo and Hispanic communities in Medford. These are small acts, but we give them to God, who then takes and magnifies what we do.

What can you do?

Evening Psalm 72

Prayer for Guidance and Support for the King

Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to a king’s son.
May he judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice.
May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,
and the hills, in righteousness.
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the needy,
and crush the oppressor.

May he live while the sun endures,
and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
like showers that water the earth.
In his days may righteousness flourish
and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

May he have dominion from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
May his foes bow down before him,
and his enemies lick the dust.
10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles
render him tribute,
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
bring gifts.
11 May all kings fall down before him,
all nations give him service.

12 For he delivers the needy when they call,
the poor and those who have no helper.
13 He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life;
and precious is their blood in his sight.

15 Long may he live!
May gold of Sheba be given to him.
May prayer be made for him continually,
and blessings invoked for him all day long.
16 May there be abundance of grain in the land;
may it wave on the tops of the mountains;
may its fruit be like Lebanon;
and may people blossom in the cities
like the grass of the field.
17 May his name endure forever,
his fame continue as long as the sun.
May all nations be blessed in him;[c]
may they pronounce him happy.

18 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous things.
19 Blessed be his glorious name forever;
may his glory fill the whole earth.
Amen and Amen.


May 28, 2020 – Murray Richmond

Morning Psalm 91

Assurance of God’s Protection

You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,[a]
will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence;
he will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
or the arrow that flies by day,
or the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
or the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your refuge,[b]
the Most High your dwelling place,
10 no evil shall befall you,
no scourge come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder,
the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.

14 Those who love me, I will deliver;
I will protect those who know my name.
15 When they call to me, I will answer them;
I will be with them in trouble,
I will rescue them and honor them.
16 With long life I will satisfy them,
and show them my salvation.

Gospel Reading Matthew 9:1-8

1And after getting into a boat he crossed the sea and came to his own town.

2And just then some people were carrying a paralyzed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” 3Then some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? 6But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” – he then said to the paralytic – “Stand up, take your bed and go to your home.” 7And he stood up and went to his home. 8When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings.

Meditation

In one of my counseling courses the professor, who was a very experienced counselor said that when a person walks into your office, and you say, “So why are you here?” the answer they give you will probably NOT be their real problem. The real problem will lie beneath the surface, and a wise counselor waits for that real problem to show up.

So it is interesting in this story that the first thing Jesus does is to forgive the paralytic’s sins. If you asked the paralytic why he wanted to see Jesus, I’m pretty sure he would say, “I want to be healed. I want to be able to walk again.” But Jesus dives down in to the deep at the start. “Your sins are forgiven.”

Now enquiring minds may want to know, “What were this man’s sins?” Sorry, the story does not tell us that. And maybe that is the wrong approach. When we ask that, we really want to know, “What did he do wrong?”

But sin is anything that keeps us from God, and they don’t have to be actions. As a matter of fact, sin, the New Testament, is usually about character, not about actions. Sin is more about having the wrong attitudes, not doing the wrong things. More often than not, it is our attitudes that get us into trouble, that end up causing a distance between God and us. Maybe this man was perpetually angry at God for his inability to walk. Maybe he carried the world’s largest chip on his shoulder. What ever it was, that is where Jesus starts with him. When he is healed of that, the other healing, of his legs, is secondary.

But Jesus goes ahead and does that too. It is like he is saying, “I have given you a new life. Arise, and walk into that life!”

Evening Psalm 113

1   Praise the LORD!
Praise, O servants of the LORD;
praise the name of the LORD.

2   Blessed be the name of the LORD
from this time on and forevermore.
3   From the rising of the sun to its setting
the name of the LORD is to be praised.
4   The LORD is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens.

5   Who is like the LORD our God,
who is seated on high,
6   who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth?

7   He raises the poor from the dust,
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
8   to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.
9   He gives the barren woman a home,
making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the LORD!


May 27, 2020 – Murray Richmond

Morning Psalm 105:1-22

O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples.
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wonderful works.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually.
Remember the wonderful works he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he has uttered,
O offspring of his servant Abraham,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones.

He is the Lord our God;
his judgments are in all the earth.
He is mindful of his covenant forever,
of the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
the covenant that he made with Abraham,
his sworn promise to Isaac,
10 which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,
to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
11 saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan
as your portion for an inheritance.”

12 When they were few in number,
of little account, and strangers in it,
13 wandering from nation to nation,
from one kingdom to another people,
14 he allowed no one to oppress them;
he rebuked kings on their account,
15 saying, “Do not touch my anointed ones;
do my prophets no harm.”

16 When he summoned famine against the land,
and broke every staff of bread,
17 he had sent a man ahead of them,
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
18 His feet were hurt with fetters,
his neck was put in a collar of iron;
19 until what he had said came to pass,
the word of the Lord kept testing him.
20 The king sent and released him;
the ruler of the peoples set him free.
21 He made him lord of his house,
and ruler of all his possessions,
22 to instruct his officials at his pleasure,
and to teach his elders wisdom.

Gospel Reading Matthew 8:28-34

28When he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs coming out of the tombs met him. They were so fierce that no one could pass that way. 29Suddenly they shouted, “What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” 30Now a large herd of swine was feeding at some distance from them. 31The demons begged him, “If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.” 32And he said to them, “Go!” So they came out and entered the swine; and suddenly, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the water. 33The swineherds ran off, and on going into the town, they told the whole story about what had happened to the demoniacs. 34Then the whole town came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighborhood.

Meditation

I saw a news story about a man who spent the last three months on a boat, sailing around the world. When he started his journey, the Corona virus was just a news story of a disease in China. When he docked in New Zealand, most of the world was in lock down.

Imagine what that must have been like for him. He left the world as he knew it, and returned to a world gone crazy.

This morning’s story is about Jesus healing two demoniacs. In recent years people have assumed that demon possession was actually the phrase they used for mental illnesses. The positive side to that is there are fewer people today who believe that mental illness is a form of demon possession. Gone (or almost gone) are the days when Christians believe that mentally ill people are demon possessed and wanted to have them exorcised.

I think this story is a sign of a larger problem—a world gone crazy. Not crazy as in mentally ill. Crazy as in demon possessed. This is the kind of crazy that  Harry Emerson Fosdick was referring to in his hymn, “God of Grace and God of Glory,” where he writes:

Cure your children’s warring madness;
bend our pride to your control;
shame our wanton, selfish gladness,
rich in things and poor in soul.

This not just the crazy of the COVID lockdown. Consider what has happened in our country in the past few weeks. A black was jogging down a road in Georgia, and is shot by some vigilantes. Another is arrested, and a policeman kneels on his neck for more than ten minutes, while the person is repeatedly saying he cannot breathe. He dies in the hospital soon after. A woman is walking her dog without a leash in a part of Central Park where it is mandatory for dogs to be on leashes. When the man tells her to leash her dog, she explodes in a tirade, and then calls the police to tell them that an African American man is attacking her. (He is standing about 15 feet from her.)

You don’t have to look far to see the craziness in our world today. And it is not all about racism. Anger is on the rise everywhere.

I would despair, but then I remember this story, and I pray for Jesus to come to us, and cure our warring madness. I pray that Jesus will exorcise the demons that plague us. I pray that the peace of God, which surpasses all understand, can come to us again. But as I pray this, I hear the Holy Spirit whispering in my ear, “Y’all are the Body of Christ now. Y’ all can take care of these demons. Don’t hide your light, which is really the light of Christ, under a bushel.”

Those words both scare and comfort me. They scare be because I realize I have to do more than sit on my sofa, clucking my tongue in disapproval at the word’s madness. But the words also comfort me, because I know that I am a part of the Kingdom of God, and because I remember the words of Paul to the Christian Community in Ephesus:

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20, 21 Emphasis mine)

Evening Psalm 105:23-45

23 Then Israel came to Egypt;
Jacob lived as an alien in the land of Ham.
24 And the Lord made his people very fruitful,
and made them stronger than their foes,
25 whose hearts he then turned to hate his people,
to deal craftily with his servants.

26 He sent his servant Moses,
and Aaron whom he had chosen.
27 They performed his signs among them,
and miracles in the land of Ham.
28 He sent darkness, and made the land dark;
they rebelled against his words.
29 He turned their waters into blood,
and caused their fish to die.
30 Their land swarmed with frogs,
even in the chambers of their kings.
31 He spoke, and there came swarms of flies,
and gnats throughout their country.
32 He gave them hail for rain,
and lightning that flashed through their land.
33 He struck their vines and fig trees,
and shattered the trees of their country.
34 He spoke, and the locusts came,
and young locusts without number;
35 they devoured all the vegetation in their land,
and ate up the fruit of their ground.
36 He struck down all the firstborn in their land,
the first issue of all their strength.

37 Then he brought Israel out with silver and gold,
and there was no one among their tribes who stumbled.
38 Egypt was glad when they departed,
for dread of them had fallen upon it.
39 He spread a cloud for a covering,
and fire to give light by night.
40 They asked, and he brought quails,
and gave them food from heaven in abundance.
41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
it flowed through the desert like a river.
42 For he remembered his holy promise,
and Abraham, his servant.

43 So he brought his people out with joy,
his chosen ones with singing.
44 He gave them the lands of the nations,
and they took possession of the wealth of the peoples,
45 that they might keep his statutes
and observe his laws.
Praise the Lord!


May 26, 2020 – Barb Haddon

Psalm 146

Praise the Lord.[a]

Praise the Lord, my soul.

I will praise the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.

He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
    the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

10 The Lord reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the Lord.

GOSPEL

Matthew 8:18-27 18When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 21Another disciple said to him, “LORD, first let me go and bury my father.” 22But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” 23Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25The disciples went and woke him, saying, “LORD, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

MEDITATION

This passage is a sobering one, for it reminds us that if we would be serious about following Jesus, he must come first.  The first would-be follower suggests that he will follow Jesus “wherever,” and Jesus responds that he must be willing to give up the security of home and a lifestyle that keeps him in one place. The second one offered to follow, but wanted to tend to family obligations first. (Important in the Jewish society) Jesus indicated that the time for following was immediate, and others could tend to the familial responsibilities.

Jesus then gets into a boat with his disciples, and one of the sudden storms known in the Sea of Galilee springs up and frightens the disciples.  Jesus immediately stills the storm, leaving them amazed and wondering about who he really is.

Between Bob’s military career and my career in the church, we moved a lot!  Unlike Jesus, we always had a home, but we never knew exactly how long we would be in one place, and we had to be prepared to move whenever, where ever the next orders or call came.  We learned to set priorities and to be willing to move when asked.  Sometimes, we felt that we left things unfinished, but had to trust that those who came after us would tend to what needed to be done.  Sometimes, it felt a bit chaotic, like the disciples in the storm.   We had to trust that, whether the voice was the military or the church, God was in charge, and it was ultimately the Holy voice who led us.

God does expect that we trust the Holy voice.  There will be times of stress, and personal opposition, and times when we wonder where God is in the storms of life.  There will be times when it is hard to keep the faith and to keep God first.  Yet, in the midst of the storms, Jesus tells us to trust, and to keep the faith!

Psalm 66:5-12 5Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind! 6He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the waters on foot- come, let us rejoice in him. 7He rules forever by his power, his eyes watch the nations- let not the rebellious rise up against him. 8Praise our God, all peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; 9he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping. 10For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. 11You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. 12You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.


May 25, 2020 – Barb Haddon

Psalm 145:14-21 New International Version (NIV)

14 The Lord upholds all who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and faithful in all he does.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.

21 My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.
Let every creature praise his holy name
for ever and ever.

Matthew 8:5-13 New International Version (NIV)

The Faith of the Centurion

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help.“Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”
Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”
The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.

MEDITATION

During much of my parish ministry, I felt called to healing ministry.  In three of the four churches that I served, I formed “wholeness groups.”  They were aimed at people with chronic illness, with the focus being not on what was wrong with their bodies, but what was right.  We emphasized mental and emotional health, even as we prayed for physical health.  While we did not see any Oral Roberts’ style instant healings, we noted that many people lived beyond what their doctors had predicted, and that the support they received in these groups enabled them to focus beyond their disease.

It was passages in the Gospels such as this one which inspired me to listen to my calling to be about healing prayer.  The story of the Centurion is not only about healing, but about the power and inclusivity of Jesus. While Jesus generally focused on ministry to the Jews, he not only heard the plea of the Gentile Centurion, he demonstrated that he did not have to be present to heal the servant.  The story is followed by the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law -Jesus did not only minister to men, but to women as well! His action made a statement in a culture where women were treated as 2nd class citizens.  It is a reminder to us, not only to acknowledge the amazing power of God in Jesus, but to widen our acceptance of others when we are tempted to “stick to our own kind.”

The reminder of the power of Jesus to heal “long distance” is reassuring to us who have no physical contact with him, but experience him largely from prayer, meditation, and Scripture.  I can attest from current experience that, despite the reality of illness and death, the healing power of Jesus is alive and well.  Jesus loves us and wants wholeness for us, and hears our prayers for wholeness and health.   Be at peace, be well.

Psalm 124

A song of ascents. Of David.

If the Lord had not been on our side—
let Israel say—
if the Lord had not been on our side
when people attacked us,
they would have swallowed us alive
when their anger flared against us;
the flood would have engulfed us,
the torrent would have swept over us,
the raging waters
would have swept us away.

Praise be to the Lord,
who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.


May 22, 2020 – Murray Richmond

Morning Psalm 96

1   O sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
2   Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
3   Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples.
4   For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be revered above all gods.
5   For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
6   Honor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
7   Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
8   Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts.
9   Worship the LORD in holy splendor;
tremble before him, all the earth.

10  Say among the nations, “The LORD is king!
The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved.
He will judge the peoples with equity.”
11  Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12       let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
13       before the LORD; for he is coming,
for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with his truth.

Gospel Reading Matthew 7:22-27

22“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ 23Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’

24“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 26And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell – and great was its fall!”

Meditation

Jesus has a habit of going after religious people.  He had little good to say about the Pharisees and the Scribes, got into arguments with the Sadducees,  and in the end made so many enemies that the religious establish in Jerusalem decided he was a danger to them, and he had to go.

This passage, which comes at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, is just another example. This time he takes on another group—the spiritual wonder workers. Now it would seem this group would be one to find favor by Jesus. After all, they are casting out demons, and prophesying, and doing great things in the name of God. There is nothing new under the sun, said Solomon, and here we see it writ large.  We have those same kinds of people today.

When I lived in Alaska, a colleague of mine got involved in such a group—the Toronto Blessing. Quoting from Wikipedia:

The Toronto Blessing has become synonymous within charismatic Christian circles for terms and actions that include an increased awareness of the God’s love, religious ecstasy, external observances of ecstatic worship, being slain in the Spirit, uncontrollable laughter, emotional and/or physical euphoria, crying, healing from emotional wounds, healing of damaged relationships, and electric waves of the spirit. “Holy laughter”, as a result of overwhelming joy, was a hallmark manifestation, and there were also some reports of instances of participants roaring like lions or making other animal noises.

This colleague told me he had all kinds of strange experiences that changed his life. He claimed to have seen miracles, and have experienced the miraculous himself. The upshot of all this, was he had become a disruptive force in the Spiritual Support Group we both attended. He wanted us all to share his experience, and while we tried to support him in his, it was clear we did not buy into it.

In this morning’s passage Jesus says that such fireworks, even in his name, do not automatically make them a part of the movement Jesus started. “I never knew you,” Jesus says about them.

Why? It is clear these movements (and there have been many throughout all Christian history, claim to be following Jesus. What is missing? Well, we have to remember this comes at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus says, Turn the other cheek, Do not call people names, the poor in spirit are the ones who are blessed, pray in secret, give your cares to God. These are the hallmarks of the people of God, not ecstatic experiences. The fact that my colleague’s experiences caused a rift between he and others was not a good sign.

Let me be quick to say that there is nothing wrong with ecstatic experiences, but we have to understand that is not what makes us good followers of Jesus.

If you have time, read through the Sermon on the Mount this weekend. Jesus said that is the teachings in it are like solid ground under our feet.

 Evening Psalm 49

1   Hear this, all you peoples;
give ear, all inhabitants of the world,
2   both low and high,
rich and poor together.
3   My mouth shall speak wisdom;
the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.
4   I will incline my ear to a proverb;
I will solve my riddle to the music of the harp.

5   Why should I fear in times of trouble,
when the iniquity of my persecutors surrounds me,
6   those who trust in their wealth
and boast of the abundance of their riches?
7   Truly, no ransom avails for one’s life,
there is no price one can give to God for it.
8   For the ransom of life is costly,
and can never suffice,
9   that one should live on forever
and never see the grave.

10   When we look at the wise, they die;
fool and dolt perish together
and leave their wealth to others.
11   Their graves are their homes forever,
their dwelling places to all generations,
though they named lands their own.
12  Mortals cannot abide in their pomp;
they are like the animals that perish.

13  Such is the fate of the foolhardy,
the end of those who are pleased with their lot. Selah
14  Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;
Death shall be their shepherd;
straight to the grave they descend,
and their form shall waste away;
Sheol shall be their home.
15  But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol,
for he will receive me. Selah

16  Do not be afraid when some become rich,
when the wealth of their houses increases.
17  For when they die they will carry nothing away;
their wealth will not go down after them.
18  Though in their lifetime they count themselves happy
— for you are praised when you do well for yourself —
19  they will go to the company of their ancestors,
who will never again see the light.
20  Mortals cannot abide in their pomp;
they are like the animals that perish.


May 21, 2020 – Murray Richmond

Psalm 8

 O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
    Out of the mouths of babes and infants
you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
to silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals[a] that you care for them?

Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Gospel Reading Matthew 28:16-20

16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Meditation

When I was a kid, I discovered the shell of the earth, that lay under the dirt. If I broke that, I was sure I would go tumbling into the insides of the earth, lost forever from the upper world I where I once roamed. I would go to my discovery almost every day, in awe of what I had discovered.

As it turned out, I had NOT discovered anything at all. I had found an old, rounded section of a drainage pipe, and one day when I was digging around it, I unearthed the edge, and I was able to pull it up.

To my five-year old mind, the piece of pipe looked like the crust of the earth.

Today is Ascension day in the church. It is the day we celebrate Jesus’ ascension up to heaven. God is up above, Satan is in hell below us, and we are in the middle of all that.

Except, if heaven is above us, where is the Australian heaven? In a sense, when we think about God above, that is kind of like my five-year old mind thinking about the earth’s crust. God is not really “above” us.

But that is not to say we should throw out all that language. “Above” can mean many things. Paul says, in Colossians, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Does he mean we need to have our heads in the clouds all the time? Obviously not. So, what does it mean?

We sometimes talk about “higher” and “lower” things. We know the difference between someone who is “shooting for the stars,” and someone who is “heading for the gutter.” That does not mean one person is building a rocket, and the other person is laying down in the street. That means that one person is aiming for higher things. (There’s that location word again!) Paul talks about those higher things in his letter to the Colossians:

12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 

Compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, love and thanksgiving. These are the things of the Kingdom of Heaven. They have nothing to do with a physical location. Instead they have everything to do with an elevated heart.  (That is why we say, in communion, “Lift up your hearts to God.”)

Jesus ascended to take us higher, not into the skies, but to bring the qualities of the Kingdom further and deeper into our lives here.

Evening Psalm 24

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it;
for he has founded it on the seas,
and established it on the rivers.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
Those who have clean hands and pure hearts,
who do not lift up their souls to what is false,
and do not swear deceitfully.
They will receive blessing from the Lord,
and vindication from the God of their salvation.
Such is the company of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.[a]Selah

Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is the King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
he is the King of glory.


May 20, 2020 – Murray Richmond

Morning Psalm 147:1-11

1   Praise the Lord!
How good it is to sing praises to our God;
for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.
2   The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3   He heals the brokenhearted,
and binds up their wounds.
4   He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
5   Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
6   The Lord lifts up the downtrodden;
he casts the wicked to the ground.

7   Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre.
8   He covers the heavens with clouds,
prepares rain for the earth,
makes grass grow on the hills.
9   He gives to the animals their food,
and to the young ravens when they cry.
10  His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner;
11  but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.

Gospel Reading Matthew 22:41-46

41Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: 42“What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” 43He said to them, “How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying, 44‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”‘? 45If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?” 46No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

Meditation

When I was a teenager, I was the bane of many a Sunday School teacher. I had a knack for asking exactly the wrong question in Sunday School, the question I knew the teachers feared the most. Or, at odd moments, I would just throw in questions for the heck of it.

“Can God make a rock that is so heavy, even he can’t lift it?”

“If Jesus ate fish with the disciples after the resurrection, and he left by going through the wall, why didn’t the fish stick to the wall?”

“Will God send people in China to hell, just because they never heard of Jesus?”

And then there were the questions that would just embarrass the teachers. “What exactly is circumcision?”

God bless those teachers, who patiently dealt with my smart aleck remarks.

If you go back and read the whole of Matthew 22, you find that just before this section, the Pharisees are asking Jesus questions meant to trick him. They are not real questions. They are just traps, to catch Jesus saying something he shouldn’t. I was just trying to embarrass my teachers. These people wanted evidence against Jesus, so they could have him arrested.

After they have given him their best shot, Jesus asks them a question, one which totally shuts them down. (I am not going into the whys or wheres of his question here. You would probably find it pretty boring, but the gist of it is that David, the second most revered figure in Jewish history, calls the Messiah Lord.)

Some expressions of religion forbid asking any questions. “The Bible says it; I believe it; that settles it.” Not so with Presbyterians. We welcome questions, even if we cannot always answer them. And there are a host of really good questions you can ask concerning your faith.

But there are also some questions that are posed just to trap, or embarrass people. Take the people in China question. Most people who ask it don’t really care about the people in China. The question is often a way for them to escape from Jesus, not a question that leads them deeper into the heart of God. You see, there are questions that are meant to keep Jesus distant, questions where the person asking is not seeking knowledge, wisdom or even information. They just want some ammunition that supports their unwillingness to follow Jesus. And then, there are real questions, where the seeker is asking about real issues in their faith.

The problem is, we often cannot tell which is which. Yes, my questions were intentionally smart aleck questions, but they hid something deeper. I really was looking for God. My Sunday School teachers, God bless them, never rebuked me, or took me to task for being a smart aleck. They spent time patiently trying to answer me. If they did not take my questions seriously, in retrospect, I can see they took ME seriously.

And that was an act of Christian love. I am where I am today, partially because some very loving and patient people took a young, brash smart alecky kid seriously. Eventually I started to ask those real question, the ones that were to lead me deeper into the heart of God, and not the ones designed to keep God at a distance.

What I am trying to say is that we cannot always take what people say seriously. But we can take them seriously.

And that can make all the difference.

Evening Psalm 118

1   O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his steadfast love endures forever!

2   Let Israel say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
3   Let the house of Aaron say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
4   Let those who fear the LORD say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”

5   Out of my distress I called on the LORD;
the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place.
6   With the LORD on my side I do not fear.
What can mortals do to me?
7   The LORD is on my side to help me;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
8   It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to put confidence in mortals.
9   It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to put confidence in princes.

10  All nations surrounded me;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
11  They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
12  They surrounded me like bees;
they blazed like a fire of thorns;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
13  I was pushed hard, so that I was falling,
but the LORD helped me.
14  The LORD is my strength and my might;
he has become my salvation.

15  There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the LORD does valiantly;
16       the right hand of the LORD is exalted;
the right hand of the LORD does valiantly.”
17  I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the LORD.
18  The LORD has punished me severely,
but he did not give me over to death.

19  Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the LORD.

20  This is the gate of the LORD;
the righteous shall enter through it.

21  I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22  The stone that the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
23  This is the LORD’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24  This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25  Save us, we beseech you, O LORD!
O LORD, we beseech you, give us success!

26  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD.
We bless you from the house of the LORD.
27  The LORD is God,
and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches,
up to the horns of the altar.

28  You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God, I will extol you.

29  O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.


May 19, 2020 – Barb Haddon

Psalm 98:5-9 New International Version (NIV)

make music to the Lord with the harp,
with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—
shout for joy before the Lord, the King.

Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the Lord,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples with equity.

EPISTLE:  COLOSSIANS 1:9-14

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,
10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,
11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,
12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,
14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

MEDITATION

Departing from the Gospels, these words from the apostle Paul to the church in Colossae, near Ephesus, speak with clarity to the difficult times we are enduring.  I am always looking for “silver linings”, but especially now I stretch to find what is good in the midst of isolation, social distancing, economic decline, and the general loss of life as we have known it.  One thing that I have noticed is that people are going extra measures to stay in touch with one another by means other than physical contact.  Amid the Zoom meetings, Facebook connects and increased letters and phone calls, people are becoming more diligent about praying for one another. As Paul says, “we have not ceased praying for you.”  Paul’s prayer is for spiritual wisdom and understanding so that we may please God and bear the fruit of good works.  Those prayers are still appropriate, but it seems equally valid to pray for patience, endurance, and a spirit of unity as we weather this crisis together.

Paul further prays that we may be made strong with the strength that comes from the power of God, and that we might be prepared to endure all, not only with patience, but with joy and thanksgiving.   As so many current television ads remind us, “we are in this together,” and “we will get through this.”  Both statements are true, and we have the added benefit in our Christian communities of being bound together in love, strengthened by the power of God, and upheld by presence of the Holy Spirit.

Be at peace.

Psalm 106:1-5

 Praise the Lord.a o
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;p
his love endures forever.q
Who can proclaim the mighty actsr of the Lord
or fully declare his praise?
Blessed are those who act justly,s
who always do what is right.t
Remember me,u Lord, when you show favorv to your people,
come to my aidw when you save them,
that I may enjoy the prosperityx of your chosen ones,y
that I may share in the joyz of your nation
and join your inheritancea in giving praise.


May 18, 2020 – Barb Haddon

Psalm 145

A psalm of praise. Of David.

I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.[b]
They tell of the power of your awesome works—
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.

The Lord is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.

Gospel:  Matthew 16:1-9

The Parable of the Sower

1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake.
2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore.
3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed.
4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.
5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.
6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.
7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.
8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

 

MEDITATION

The parable of the sower comes at a time not unlike our own, when there was great divisiveness: for us, political, for Jesus, religious.  It is clear that there was a demarcation between those who opposed Jesus and those who chose to follow him.  Like the parables that follow, this is a story about the reign of God.  Jesus does not speak as Revelation does, of golden streets and the glory of the afterlife.  He is more concerned about the rule of God here and now.  (How interesting that his words are still relevant 2,000 years later!)

His description of the scene would have been familiar to his hearers, as he describes the method of sowing seed by hand.  Some, indeed, fell on rocky soil or shallow soil or thorny soil.  Some fell on rich, loamy soil and yielded abundance.  It seems that if we think of ourselves as the soil, we are not one kind or the other, but we go through phases in our lives when we experience ALL of the soil types. Sometimes, we are hard packed earth – resistant to change, resistant to God’s word, and like the religious leaders of Jesus’ time, in direct opposition to what we are being told.  Sometimes, we are like the rocky soil.  We get excited about a sermon, a project, a Biblical passage, and determine to put down roots in the direction suggested by what has excited us.  However, like the young woman who does our grocery shopping, at first the task was fun – now it is “humdrum”. When our new direction becomes routine rather than exciting, we find that the roots are shallow, and follow through becomes difficult.  Sometimes our lives are like the thorny soil.  We have good intentions to follow through on study, meditation, or other spiritual discipline, only to find that the responsibilities of life, our interest in a variety of things, choke out the time we have set aside to grow closer to God.  We cherish the times in life when we are like the loamy soil.  We are receptive, dedicated, energized, and set on a direction that will help us to grow more deeply spiritual.

During these days of reduced activity and re-ordered priorities, we might use some of our time to nurture the healthy soil, so that we might emerge with deeper faith, greater centeredness and a sense of new purpose.

Psalm 115:11-18 New International Version (NIV)

11 You who fear him, trust in the Lord—
he is their help and shield.

12 The Lord remembers us and will bless us:
He will bless his people Israel,
he will bless the house of Aaron,
13 he will bless those who fear the Lord—
small and great alike.

14 May the Lord cause you to flourish,
both you and your children.
15 May you be blessed by the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

16 The highest heavens belong to the Lord,
but the earth he has given to mankind.
17 It is not the dead who praise the Lord,
those who go down to the place of silence;
18 it is we who extol the Lord,
both now and forevermore.

Praise the Lord.[a]


May 15, 2020 – Murray Richmond

Morning Psalm 96

1   O sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
2   Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
3   Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples.
4   For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be revered above all gods.
5   For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
6   Honor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
7   Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
8   Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts.
9   Worship the LORD in holy splendor;
tremble before him, all the earth.

10  Say among the nations, “The LORD is king!
The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved.
He will judge the peoples with equity.”
11  Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12       let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
13       before the LORD; for he is coming,
for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with his truth.

Gospel Reading Matthew 7:1-12

1“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. 2For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 4Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

6“Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.

7“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? 10Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? 11If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

12“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.

Meditation

High standards are wonderful—if you use them to better yourself. High standards can be cruel, if they are used to belittle others.

In this passage Jesus talks about judgment. The Greek word for judge, κρίνετε, can also mean to criticize or to condemn.  It is impossible to be totally non-judgmental. Jesus tells us how to judge, based on two simple principles. First the way you judge others is the way you will be judged. Can you say “karma”? There was one other time Jesus said something similar; Those who live by the sword, die by the sword. (Matthew 26:52)

The other thing Jesus said is to focus on yourself when you judge, not others. For example, I see someone doing something that I think is pretty stupid, of just something I disagree with. I can continue down the line of judging that person, criticizing them, condemning them, which is pretty easy, OR I can say to myself, “Self, you are being pretty condemning right now. What do you know about the person you judging? What do you know about why they think the way they do, or act the way they act? How much do you really know that person? Self, maybe instead of condemning them, you could try to enter into their world a little, and get to know them, and maybe, Self, you can learn something.”

While I am sure that Jesus lived by his words here, you don’t have to go too far into the Gospels to see that Jesus does judge people. Well, some people. He does not have a lot of nice words for the Scribes and Pharisees, for example. But when Jesus does judge others, he is consistent. He only judges those whose words and actions harm other people, especially people who are vulnerable. Jesus does not condemn tax collectors, or prostitutes, or lepers, but he does judge those who think they are better than those people. I would say today that Jesus does not condemn the homeless, but he does judge those who think they are better than them, or worse, who do harm to them.

Condemning someone does nothing to help them. Think about it. How would you take it if someone came up to you and start lambasting you about a fault you have? Even if their judgment was accurate, you have this fault and you admit it, how helpful would you find someone’s condemnation? My guess is, not very!

Condemning people does nothing to help them, and according to Jesus, it does me harm. Helping them is different. That affects both them and me. I have seen people who don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of making it, turn their lives around, kick their addictions, and become whole.

That takes us to the other thing Jesus said: “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.” I always thought this was about asking things for myself. But given what comes before it, I think it is more about asking God to help those we find easy to criticize.

This is the way of the life of love Jesus call us to lead.

Evening Psalm 138

1   I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
2   I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness;
for you have exalted your name and your word
above everything.
3   On the day I called, you answered me,
you increased my strength of soul.

4   All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O LORD,
for they have heard the words of your mouth.
5   They shall sing of the ways of the LORD,
for great is the glory of the LORD.
6   For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly;
but the haughty he perceives from far away.

7   Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies;
you stretch out your hand,
and your right hand delivers me.
8   The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.


May 14, 2020 – Murray Richmond

Morning Psalm 47

1   Clap your hands, all you peoples;
shout to God with loud songs of joy.
2   For the LORD, the Most High, is awesome,
a great king over all the earth.
3   He subdued peoples under us,
and nations under our feet.
4   He chose our heritage for us,
the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah

5   God has gone up with a shout,
the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
6   Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.
7   For God is the king of all the earth;
sing praises with a psalm.

8   God is king over the nations;
God sits on his holy throne.
9   The princes of the peoples gather
as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
he is highly exalted.

Gospel Reading Matthew 6:25-34

25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? 31Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

34“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Meditation

There was a struggling entrepreneur who hired an assistant. “Your job,” he said, “is to do my worrying for me.” The assistant thought that strange, but he took the job. The next day he went to his boss and said, “I’ve been looking through the books. From what I can tell, you don’t have enough to pay me.”

“That is your first worry,” said the boss.

There are times when I feel this is one of the hardest teachings of Jesus. “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.” I know that God is in control of things, but I don’t always act like it. Given the fact that there are an infinite number of things we can worry about, I think this is pretty practical advice.

Sometimes we worry about things that have a slim chance of happening.  I have known people who worried about everything, most of which had little or no chance of happening. Worry made their lives a mess. Clearly Jesus is offering liberation for the “Nervous Nellies” who spend a greater part of the day worrying.

But we all know that there are legitimate things that cause us to worry, especially these days. People who have been laid off worry about how to pay their bills. People who work with the public, especially in hospitals, worry about catching the virus. People worry about their health.

So is Jesus saying we should just put those worries aside? No, I think he is saying our worries should not control us.

I have found it helpful, when I feel beset by worries, to give it to God in prayer. My worrying does not change a single thing. But prayer can. Of course if you give it to God, that does not mean God has to do what you want. It means God will do what is best for you, and for others.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Evening Psalm 113

1   Praise the LORD!
Praise, O servants of the LORD;
praise the name of the LORD.

2   Blessed be the name of the LORD
from this time on and forevermore.
3   From the rising of the sun to its setting
the name of the LORD is to be praised.
4   The LORD is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens.

5   Who is like the LORD our God,
who is seated on high,
6   who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth?

7   He raises the poor from the dust,
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
8   to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.
9   He gives the barren woman a home,
making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the LORD!


May 13, 2020 – Murray Richmond

Morning Psalm 99

1   The LORD is king; let the peoples tremble!
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
2   The LORD is great in Zion;
he is exalted over all the peoples.
3   Let them praise your great and awesome name.
Holy is he!
4   Mighty King, lover of justice,
you have established equity;
you have executed justice
and righteousness in Jacob.
5   Extol the LORD our God;
worship at his footstool.
Holy is he!

6   Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
Samuel also was among those who called on his name.
They cried to the LORD, and he answered them.
7   He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud;
they kept his decrees,
and the statutes that he gave them.

8   O LORD our God, you answered them;
you were a forgiving God to them,
but an avenger of their wrongdoings.
9   Extol the LORD our God,
and worship at his holy mountain;
for the LORD our God is holy.

Gospel Reading Matthew 6:19-24

19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; 23but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

24“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Meditation

I was teaching a Junior High Sunday school class, many years ago, and I asked them, “What you would do if you had a million dollars?” The first boy said, I would buy my parents a new house, and a get my dad a riding mower, and then give the rest of it to the church.” The second boy, not to be outdone, said, “I would give it all to the church.” The third boy was going to give half to the church, and half to the poor. The rest of the answers were along these lines.

Then I said, “Those are great Sunday School answers. But tell me, what would you really do with the money.”

“I buy myself a really cool sports car,” one of the boys blurted out, and the rest of the answers were as honest.

It’s an interesting question What would you do if you if a large gift of money dropped in your lap?

It is appropriate that this text comes today, because this week you will receive a letter from me with some news about a very large bequest we recently received, close to the hypothetical million dollars in my Sunday School class.

We are going to find out exactly how much we believe this text over the next couple of years. Jesus said we should not store up our treasures, but should instead store up treasure in Heaven. How can we use this gift to “store up treasure in heaven?”

Now when Jesus talks about heaven in the Gospel of Matthew, he is not talking about a place in the sky. He is talking about the Kingdom of God, part of which is solely in God’s presence, and part of it, as we pray each week, is here. “Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.”

So how do we invest in the Kingdom of Heaven? As a church we will be grappling with that answer for a while. You will be able to have some input as we will take suggestions from the whole church on how to handle this gift.

In the end it comes down to one thing; do we trust in God first, and use what God has given us, in faith, to carry out the mission of the church, or do we trust in our bank account to keep us afloat?

This church has made huge investments in the Kingdom of Heaven over its many years. I trust that we will do this for many years to come.

Psalm 20

Prayer for Victory

To the leader. A Psalm of David.

The Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
The name of the God of Jacob protect you!
May he send you help from the sanctuary,
and give you support from Zion.
May he remember all your offerings,
and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices. Selah

May he grant you your heart’s desire,
and fulfill all your plans.
May we shout for joy over your victory,
and in the name of our God set up our banners.
May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.

Now I know that the Lord will help his anointed;
he will answer him from his holy heaven
with mighty victories by his right hand.
Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses,
but our pride is in the name of the Lord our God.
They will collapse and fall,
but we shall rise and stand upright.

Give victory to the king, O Lord;
answer us when we call.[a]

Evening Psalm 118

1   O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his steadfast love endures forever!

2   Let Israel say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
3   Let the house of Aaron say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
4   Let those who fear the LORD say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”

5   Out of my distress I called on the LORD;
the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place.
6   With the LORD on my side I do not fear.
What can mortals do to me?
7   The LORD is on my side to help me;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
8   It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to put confidence in mortals.
9   It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to put confidence in princes.

10  All nations surrounded me;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
11  They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
12  They surrounded me like bees;
they blazed like a fire of thorns;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
13  I was pushed hard, so that I was falling,
but the LORD helped me.
14  The LORD is my strength and my might;
he has become my salvation.

15  There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the LORD does valiantly;
16       the right hand of the LORD is exalted;
the right hand of the LORD does valiantly.”
17  I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the LORD.
18  The LORD has punished me severely,
but he did not give me over to death.

19  Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the LORD.

20  This is the gate of the LORD;
the righteous shall enter through it.

21  I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22  The stone that the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
23  This is the LORD’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24  This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25  Save us, we beseech you, O LORD!
O LORD, we beseech you, give us success!

26  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD.
We bless you from the house of the LORD.
27  The LORD is God,
and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches,
up to the horns of the altar.

28  You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God, I will extol you.

29  O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.