Psalm 148:7-8 NRSV
Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command!
One winter, while we were living in North Carolina, it snowed. I sat for a long time in silence at our bedroom window watching the soft flakes float to the ground. It was fascinating to me. I grew up in Florida and had only seen snow a couple of times in my life. The perfect peace of that experience birthed the snow verse of this hymn. As I began to think about other natural experiences, the other verses came to be. – Lisa <><
God Who Brings the Cleansing Rain
by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Suggested tune: THE CALL (United Methodist Hymnal #164)
God who brings the cleansing rain
saturate our thirsty bones
with the milk of mercy sweet
with the blood that brings us home
God who rules the fiery sun
kindle now our brittle hearts
set ablaze our tender lives
forge our ways till sin departs
God who rides the winds of change
anchor us against its wrath
set our face toward holy ends
fix our walk upon your path
God who sends the silent snows
quiet us against your breast
cover us with hope-filled wings
whisper soft your word of rest
God who steps into our time
Take away this needless fear
Turn our lives to songs of praise
Play us for your world to hear
Antelope Canyon by Luca Galuzzi. Photo via Wikipedia Commons
Maker of galaxies
Maker of mountains
Maker of me
Thank you for your grace
Thank you for reaching out
For speaking through the majesty of your creation
For speaking into the smallness of my soul
Help me to listen and to follow
Now and always
How Great you are, Creator God
Bringer of Light and Life!
You create and you sustain
Season after season, ever faithful
Fill me with your creative power
to bring your goodness to this land and people
Sustain me with your generative grace,
that I may persevere in your love and will,
one of unnumbered souls revealing you and your gifts.
Creative, Powerful God
Generous Author of Life
You call us to care and tend for your gifts
You call us to receive and rest in your presence
We hear you
It is good, very good
You are Good, Very Good
Your mercies are everlasting
Hallelu! Glory, Hallelu!
While we gathered last week for worship, a gunman was opening fire on the congregation of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas. It’s believed to be the largest church shooting in history: 27 killed, 20 injured.
It’s devastating news. Even more devastating is the growing frequency of mass shootings in our country. A mass shooting is defined as gun violence with 4 or more persons injured or killed. According to the Mass Shooting Tracker, between October 1 (the day of the Las Vegas Concert Massacre) and last Friday (November 10, 2017- my dad’s birthday) there were 44 mass shootings across 22 different states.
604 persons injured (441 from Las Vegas, 20 Sutherland Springs TX)
131 persons died (59 from Las Vegas, 27 Sutherland Springs TX)
What can we say in the midst of all this pain, horror, death? The truth.
Many of us constant state of grieving and stress Many of us are afraid, or at least feeling insecure
It’s one thing to experience such violence in the midst of war. (This is why we must honor and thank our veterans). It’s another when violence invades our safe places: home, school, places where we have fun, church. There’s a reason why we call where we worship a sanctuary. It’s to be a place safety, belonging, healing, hope. Now it’s been violated. Again.
When we’re afraid/insecure it’s a short step to losing perspective and another short step to despair. “I guess this is just the way things are now. Nothing I can do about it.”
The shootings just keep coming. We’re hit and hit and hit again with the pain, loss, fear. We want to protect ourselves – build up the security, only let certain people in and certain information in. It’s like building up a callus (Consider persons who work with their hands or the feet of dancers.)
I’m afraid of building up a callus on my heart. (hard-hearted, callous) I need to stay soft in God’s hands.
When we’re afraid/insecure it’s a short step to blaming and demonizing. It’s the fault of-
Those who sell the guns/ammo
Those who own the guns
Those who enforce the laws
Those who make the laws
Lobbyists paying off the politicians
Those who are supposed to follow up on the “crazy people”
This only breeds false stereotypes and prejudice. It polarizes us into camps, “You’re either with us or you’re against us”
The Pro Guns Stereotype
Allow anyone to buy any type of gun and any type of ammunition, when and wherever they want, or they will break down your door, take away your guns, crush your freedom,
kill everyone you love, and put an end to the American way
The No Guns Stereotype
If you own a gun—any gun—you might as well be the one pulling the trigger in all of these terrible mass shootings.
God provides another way- Creation
The opposite of war isn’t peace, it’s creation
The opposite of chaos isn’t order, safety, it’s creation
The Wisdom of God creates
Proverbs 3:19-20, The Voice
19 It was by wisdom that the Eternal fashioned the earth
and by understanding that He designed the heavens.
20 Through His knowledge, the deep was divided into seas and sky,
and the clouds understood when to let down the morning dew.
The Wisdom of God Creates
The gift of God is God’s perspective and understanding of the situation. The gift of God is the ability to discern what is true, right, and lasting and good. The gift of God is to create something in the midst of pain and loss.
What do we do? Seek God’s wisdom to think past either/or solutions. The situation is often far more complex than that. It’s easier/safer to pick a side and demonize. It takes courage to stay at the table, be curious, ask questions, talk, pray, build consensus, work through the prejudice and complications to real, effective problem solving and action.
There’s a reason why Jesus calls us the Light of the World. There’s a reason we are described as living stones built into a spiritual house. By the grace of God we are Sanctuary- safety, belonging, healing, hope. We are the place where diverse people come together to seek God’s wisdom and out of that wisdom something creative and good is born.
By the grace of God, seeking the creative wisdom of God, it is possible to break through the polarization to something new, good. It’s possible to hold together common sense gun laws and limits while at the same time not demonizing respectful, responsible hunters, marksmen, gun owners and persons who never want to touch a gun. It possible to discuss and address the need for greater mental health access, healthy families, and the power of lobbyists.
Wisdom of God Creates. By the grace of God we will be courageous and we will be wise and we will be used of God for the light will overcome the darkness.
21 My [child], never lose sight of God’s wisdom and knowledge:
make decisions out of true wisdom, guard your good sense,
22 And they will be life to your soul
and fine jewelry around your neck.
23 Then each one of your steps will land securely on your life’s journey,
and you will not trip or fall.
24 Your mind will be clear, free from fear;
when you lie down to rest, you will be refreshed by sweet sleep.
Merciful and Mighty God, how wondrous is your wisdom!
Your wisdom is eternal, beautiful, creative, powerful, good.
The strong foundation of life itself, all of life.
Grant us your wisdom that we may discern faithfully and be bearers of your life, goodness, and truth
Grant us your wisdom that we may walk with you all my days, clear-eyed and sure-footed and courageous
Grant us your wisdom that we may be your peace and rest in your peace, each night and forever.
We ask this for the honor and glory of your name, for the building of your kingdom, for the good of our neighbors and ourselves. We ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to the tech team and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. Videos of these messages are available on the church Facebook Page.
If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.