This is the last installment of my series on the psalms of ascent. pilgrims-foundation-and-family_ps127-128 I get to have Sept. 7 off then its back in the saddle and starting into Paul’s first letter to the church at Thessalonica.
Monthly Archives: August 2008
Psalm 126, the text for this week’s sermon, helps us with the antidote for one of the greatest maladies with which the church is infected. If I were to give it a name, I might call it humbug-ism. The world very often only notices our voices when we reach a certain shrill decibel level indicating that we have crossed the point of no return into raging moral indignation. “Gosh, those Christians seem to always be upset about someone or something.” Maybe if the church would learn to throw a good party – the kind of party where you don’t have to go apologize to the neighbors for the noise because they were there at the party as part of the noise – just maybe the world might notice something a little more enticing about a life of Christian discipleship than all the heavy books we have on our shelves. laughing-as-we-walk_ps126
Here’s the next sermon in my series on the Psalms of Ascent. pilgrims mountains & peace_ps125
I have to say again that Eugene Peterson’s work on these psalms (Long Obedience in the Same Direction 1980) continue to be of great value for illustrations and for purposes of application. Lest someone think that the author of The Message (a paraphrase of the Bible) is light and fluffy with little between his ears, just check out his footnotes that are sprinkled throughout his works. Every once in a while he mentions a better way to translate something by repointing the Hebrew or by drawing on Ugaritic influences. Peterson is the real deal and his Kung Fu is very strong.
Here is the sermon manuscript for the sermon I preached this past Sunday.
I am doing something here truncated and imbalanced. I am going to string together a series of quotes pulled from their context of which the title of this post is the first. All of the following come from the chapter entitled “The Unselfing of America” in Eugene Peterson’s Where Your Treasure Is (W.M. Eerdmans Publishing: Grand Rapids, MI, 1993), 1-15.
- “Prayer is social energy. Prayer is public good.”
- “The single most widespread American misunderstanding of prayer is that it is private. … When we privatize prayer we embezzle the common currency that belongs to all.”
- “Solitude in prayer is not privacy. … Privacy is getting away from others so that I don’t have to bothered with them; solitude is getting away from the crowd so that I can be instructed by the still small voice of God, who is enthroned on the praises of the multitudes.”
- “We can no more have a private prayer than we can have a private language. … We are involved, whether we will it or not, in a community of the Word – spoken and read, understood and obeyed (or misunderstood and disobeyed). We can do this in solitude, but we cannot do it in private. It involves an Other and others.
- “If the self abdicates creativity and interaction with other selves, whether God or neighbor, it becomes flaccid and bloated.”
- “The best school for prayer continues to be the Psalms. It also turns out to be an immersion in politics.”
- “The word ‘politics’, in common usage, means ‘what politicians do’ in matters of government and public affairs. … Politics is smudged with greasy adjectives… But the word cannot be abandoned just because it is dirtied. It derives from the Greek word polis (“city”). It represents everything that people do as they live with some intention in community, as they work toward some common purpose, as they carry out responsibilities for the way society develops. Biblically [speaking, God] began his work with a couple in a garden; he completes it with vast multitudes in a city.”
Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills;
And all nations shall flow to it.
Many people shall come and say,
He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations, And rebuke many people;
They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore.
At the beginning of the book of Isaiah, the prophet is speaking prophetically about the latter days and how the LORD’s house will be triumphant over all the other “houses” of this world. To the Jews hearing this, they were hearing that a king from the house of David, the LORD’s chosen house (there is also double intention here in the word ‘house’ meaning the nation of Israel as God’s house), would be established as the king over all other nations. They were probably thinking military conquest with Jerusalem as the destination to which all the spoils of war would flow. But after war, there would be peace… there would be instruction in the ways of justice and mercy, not just for the nation of Israel, but also for all the Gentile nations. Jerusalem would also play host to the great victory feast where all were welcome who bowed the knee to the King from David’s line. If this is in fact what they believed they would have been correct. But Yahweh, the Lord of the covenant, is orchestrating things to look quite a bit differently than the original audience probably envisioned… Continue reading