June 8, 2021

June 8, 2021

June 8, 2021

Bonnie Lynn Seiber
Clergy
St Mark UMC, Clinton
Tennessee Valley District


Psalm 74: 1-3, 10-11,18-19

O God, why have you rejected us forever?
    Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?
Remember the nation you purchased long ago,
    the people of your inheritance, whom you redeemed—
    Mount Zion, where you dwelt.
Turn your steps toward these everlasting ruins,
    all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary.
Your foes roared in the place where you met with us;
    they set up their standards as signs.
They behaved like men wielding axes
    to cut through a thicket of trees.
They smashed all the carved paneling
    with their axes and hatchets.
They burned your sanctuary to the ground;
    they defiled the dwelling place of your Name.
They said in their hearts, “We will crush them completely!”
    They burned every place where God was worshiped in the land.
We are given no signs from God;
    no prophets are left,
    and none of us knows how long this will be.
10 How long will the enemy mock you, God?
    Will the foe revile your name forever?
11 Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?
    Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!
12 But God is my King from long ago;
    he brings salvation on the earth.
13 It was you who split open the sea by your power;
    you broke the heads of the monster in the waters.
14 It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan
    and gave it as food to the creatures of the desert.
15 It was you who opened up springs and streams;
    you dried up the ever-flowing rivers.
16 The day is yours, and yours also the night;
    you established the sun and moon.
17 It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth;
    you made both summer and winter.
18 Remember how the enemy has mocked you, Lord,
    how foolish people have reviled your name.
19 Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts;
    do not forget the lives of your afflicted people forever.
20 Have regard for your covenant,
    because haunts of violence fill the dark places of the land.
21 Do not let the oppressed retreat in disgrace;
    may the poor and needy praise your name.
22 Rise up, O God, and defend your cause;
    remember how fools mock you all day long.
23 Do not ignore the clamor of your adversaries,
    the uproar of your enemies, which rises continually.

Devotion
Complaining to God

     The Hebrew word Psalm means “Song of Praise”.  The Psalm for today sounds very little like praise.  It sounds more like a lament.  The Psalm is written by Asaph who is one of the Levite music ministry leaders appointed by King David to use his musical gifts to worship the Lord.  In this Psalm the congregation pours out their lament over the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar during the conquest of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.   This is a long Psalm full of woe.  I suggest that you take the time to read it in its entirety.
       In the first section the people feel rejected and punished due to God’s anger.  They then recall the desecration and destruction of their temple.  History tells us that at first the temple was used to worship the pagan god Baal.  If that was not enough humiliation the temple was ransacked, then hacked to pieces and set on fire.  Even worse than the destruction was the assumed silence of God. There were  no prophets left to bring the word of God to the people.
     Now the tone changes.  The Psalmist reminds the people that God is still the God of creation.  He alone can save his people.  He brought creation out of chaos.  The Psalm then closes with a prayer for remembrance and redemption of the people. 
     As I read that last section, I cannot help but ask does God ever really forget his people?  In times of trial, we often find ourselves thinking like Asaph that we are being punished by God’s anger.  We think that God has turned his back on us and forgotten us.  We have just gone through a very trying year where we had to close our places of worship for the safety of everyone.  We began to feel that we had lost our sense of identity and community.  The Hebrew people equated their temple with their identity.  When they lost the temple, they forgot that the God of creation could be worshipped in all of creation.  In the past year we have had to find new ways of worship. Some we liked, some we didn’t. some worked, some didn’t. As I am writing this church committees are joyfully meeting to plan fully re-opening our churches.  We are trying to create a blend of the old ways and the new ways. We are rebuilding our temple.  Let us remember that God has not turned his back on us . He was with us during out time of trial. He is with us still. He will continue to lead us forward. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Amen. 

Prayer

Gracious God We thank you for being the Lord of creation.  We thank you that you’re a loving God who never forgets us or turns his back on us.  We ask that you remember us and lift us up as we go forward.  Renew our faith,  Amen.