Virtual Bulletin – 1/2

January 2nd, 2022 – 2nd Sunday in Christmas

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Jan 3rd – Jan 9th

Tuesday………………..            7:00 PM           Board of Elders

Wednesday…………….            2:30 PM           Confirmation

Thursday……………….           Epiphany

                                                 10:00 AM         Bible Study

                                                 7:00 PM           Epiphany Vespers

Sunday: ………………….          10:00am           Worship

                                                 11:00am           Bible Study

COMMEMERATIONS – Epiphany

There isn’t a saint day this week, but Thursday, January 6th is Epiphany, the official end of Christmastide and the coming of the Magi. You are invited to Vespers (7 PM) followed by a bit of end of season cheer.

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

Graffiti is rarely deep, but I saw a bit recently that stuck me. In bright red paint on a stone building: “Merry crisis and a happy new fear.” We tend to think of fear through psychology. To us it is a mental state. But that is not the only way. In Psalm 4 the way of talking about fear is spatial.  And it is something our most modern translations have all but bulldozed.  My Hebrew is terrible, but I took a crack at King David’s first line because like those words painted on a building, the physical nature of it struck me.

ESVKJVMPB
Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer! (Ps. 4:1 ESV)Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer. (Ps. 4:1 KJV)When I call, Answer me! My justifier.In a narrow space, you made it wide for meBe gracious to me and hear my prayer 

The first line captures the panic. Nobody is going to answer.  Anxiety or fear is like being an animal caught in a corner.  But God has answered before.  I’ve been in narrow spaces.  I’ve been between rocks and hard places. And God has opened them up.  Do so again.  I don’t know how.  If I did, I’d do it myself.  But I can’t justify myself.  God, be gracious and hear by prayer again.

And the rest of Psalm 4 is something of a reminder that this is what God does.  Verse 2 is some gentle chiding, “O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after lies? ( KJV)” We turn to the Lord as a last resort, when the walls have closed in.  But even then, “know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him. (Ps. 4:3 KJV)”  This is the promise of the care of the Lord for his own.  God does hear his people.

So how do we calm our anxiety before we find ourselves back in that narrow space?  To me Psalm 4 gives us three pieces of advice:

  1. Be honest with ourselves.  We feel what we feel, but don’t use those feelings as a justification for sin.  Instead ponder those feelings in your hearts on your own beds. Yes, you’ll probably be awake a few nights.  But we must become self-aware of what is causing us our distress.  Do not spread our distress to other weak people needlessly.
  2. Offer the sacrifices and trust in God.  God has made us promises to both hear us and to protect us.  Whatever your heart comes up with on that bed, take it to God.  This is the step of faith.  Actively live the faith.  God has promised to hear and will make the way wide.
  3. Instead of counting the ways that we think God is absent or has failed us, we should instead count the many blessings that he has given us.  The psalmist says, “you have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” Luther’s catechism on the first article of the creed is a wonderful place to start that catalog.  Luther’s explanation gives us the general catalog of Fatherly divine goodness and mercy.  Not a sparrow falls without His knowing, and you are worth many sparrows.

If God has opened the way before us in the past, and he continues to this day to watch over us, do we have anything real to fear?  Is there any reason we should be awake at 3AM pondering in our hearts?  “In peace I will both lie down and sleep” is the psalmist conclusion.  “For you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”  

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story”
  • Confirmation: Creed, Article 1, part 1
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Next Year!
  • Sunday Morning: We are back.
  • Catechism Moment: In hibernation