God is with You

I hope you are enjoying the focus on the Psalms during this season of Lent and taking a few minutes each week to color on one of the many coloring sheets made available. This is a wonderful way to share the Psalms across generations, cultures, gender identities, or political affiliation. Several of you have shared other ways you are embracing growth through a variety of Disciplines.

Some of you have asked for more information regarding “Orientation, Reorientation and New Orientation.” If you are not familiar with what I am talking about, you can check out our sermons during Lent at https://www.laurelheights.org/resources/recent-sermons/ or go the source, Walter Brueggemann’s book, Spirituality of the Psalms. It was printed in 1994 but I think it is equally as relevant today.   The quote from the back cover invites us to a Lenten self-reflection with: “The life of faith expressed in the Psalms is focused on the two decisive moves of faith that are always underway by which we are regularly surprised and which we regularly resist: out of a settled orientation into a season of disorientation, and from a context of disorientation to a new orientation, surprised by a new gift from God, a new coherence made present to us just when we thought all was lost.” Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline (1983) talked about it as “Promise, Problem and Provision” if you still have that book from previous Lenten studies.

While it often takes a problem to jar us loose from our comfortable lifestyle that is not always the case. When our lives are not what we would have them to be, I hear people say, “better the devil I know than the one I don’t know” and we have all heard of people staying in obviously abusive situations. But what about when everything seems fine? I have met very few people who I thought were close to Christian Perfection as John Wesley describes it and those I did meet, had a clear understanding of their need for God’s grace and would have argued they still had a great way to go. They worked daily at actively listening for God’s guidance and new way. Maybe that is what the Gospel of Mark is talking about in 8:35, “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and the sake of the Gospel, will save it.” This can also be found it Matthew 16:25 and Luke 9:24.

Lent is a time we are invited to seek a new orientation, a deeper relationship and new life in God. Maybe we can avoid some of the problems Foster talked about or at least lessen their challenge to our faith. Maybe we want to work on our relationship with God because it is important to us. Studying scripture, like the Psalms, and other spiritual disciplines is a way to work on that relationship before we encounter problems or disruptive reorientation events that challenge our faith. We can agree to walk with God through these times and work together with God to grow from them or we can work against God and fight to regain the life we had and maintain the relationship as it was.

In Lent we are invited to learn from the experience of others, to move at our own pace, to work and then take a Sabbath rest. Lent is the time we are reminded that no matter how well things are going or how comfortable we are, there is room for growth. Lent reminds us that there is a time we may need to get back to the basics of faith much like even the most experienced athletes we watch each week continue to train and work on basic skills of their sport.

No matter where you are this Lent, comfortable in the promise or going through a time of reorientation after some major interruption, remember that God is there with you. If you prefer to stay where you are or are ready to grow a little more in your faith, God is with you.

See you Sunday,