Worship Sunday at 10:30

Bethany Evangelical
Lutheran Church

Ishpeming, Michigan † Est. 1870

 
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Pastor's Reflections

         How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
            How long will you hide your face from me?
         How long must I bear pain in my soul,
            and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
         How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

         Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!
            Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
         and my enemy will say, ‘I have prevailed’;
            my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.

         But I trusted in your steadfast love;
            my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
         I will sing to the Lord,
            because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Those are the words of Psalm 13.  When I took a continuing education class on the psalms some years ago, Walter Brueggemann who taught the class suggested that a question one can ask concerning any of the psalms is, “Whose psalm is this?”  You may know that some of them are attributed to a person, David in many cases, sometimes in connection with a particular event.  The reality however, is that in most cases no one really knows but that’s not the point of the question anyway.  The question has to do with the kind of situation that might have prompted such a prayer, the kind of situation that might still prompt such a prayer.

In the midst of coronavirus social distancing restrictions, Psalm 13 could easily be understood as our psalm.  Four times the psalmist asks, “how long” and a couple of months into it more and more we ask, how long?  How long will this unseen coronavirus enemy be exalted over us and impact our lives?  How long will the virus be able to say, “I have prevailed?”  Right now there is no clear answer, but with “Stay Home, Stay Safe” restrictions being extended and events into the summer being cancelled almost daily, it appears that it’s going to be a while.  We’ll continue to ask, how long?  

Psalm 13 is a classic example of a psalm of lament and complaint.  The ancient people of Israel were more comfortable than we are with such lament and complaint.  We’re afraid that it seems like a lack of faith, but for them it was just the opposite; it was an expression of faith in a God who they believed could change things.  There are some psalms that end without any resolution to the situation but note that that’s not the case with this one.  The tone of the two verses in the final stanza is very different from the tone of the first four verses which is another reason I think it’s an appropriate psalm for us.

In the psalm, something decisive and transformative has happened between the first two stanzas and the third, something that has caused a move from lament to praise.  We don’t know what it was, but something happened.  Right now, we are living in the space between stanzas two and three.  Trusting in God’s steadfast love though, we have faith that we’ll get there; we’ll get to stanza three and will be able to rejoice and sing to the Lord not just through a computer screen but together again as a worshiping community.

Things might never get back to what we thought was “normal.”  Maybe that’s not all bad though.  While the pace of life has perhaps slowed down more than we’d like, I’ve had a number of people say that a little slower pace is kind of nice.  The original intent of “Remember the Sabbath day,” was not about worship, it was about rest so maybe we’ll recover more of a sense of Sabbath rest; maybe we’ll reevaluate our priorities.

In the meantime, as we live in that space between stanzas two and three of the psalm, there’s hope.  It’s getting warmer, the snow is melting, the birds are singing in the morning when I run, it feels like spring is really here.  There is hope!

Pastor Geier

 
 

Bethany Lutheran Church
715 Mather Avenue
Ishpeming, MI 49849

Phone: 906-486-4351
Fax: 906-486-9640
contact@bethanyishpeming.org

Rev. Warren Geier, Pastor
pastor@bethanyishpeming.org

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“Whoever
welcomes
one such child in my name
welcomes me, and whoever
welcomes me welcomes
not me
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