Hearing the Music

Our Youngest Generation

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Your faithfulness endures to all generations
- Psalm 119:90

It is a great joy to be assured that the Lord’s faithfulness endures to all generations. Have you ever sat and pondered that? 

Well, for a few minutes I invite you to ponder with me our youngest generation at Christ Church, the little souls who come through the door (or over the counter!) and into the church nursery. 

These wonderful little people are a joy to be with. Yes, they are fun to hold, read stories to, play trucks with, and all the other activities that make up a room full of 6-month- to 3-year-olds. Yet more than all that,they remind us of our responsibility as a church family to nourish each other in our faith, to continue to tell the stories that we know so well, and to pass them down to the next generation.

Do you know what goes on during the time we have the children in the nursery? We worship with them! Yes. It may sound a little silly, however we start the morning with worship around the table. As the weeks have progressed, we have seen how the structure and rhythms have helped the children feel settled. Plus worship with 1-, 2-, and 3-year-olds is always fun -- think hand motions, off-key singing, and general merriment. We certainly do make a joyful noise to the Lord!

Next, we move to story time and response. We tell a short story and often have a coloring page that mirrors the sermon. Even though our lessons are quite short, and our children are quite young, we do this all the time having faith that God's word will not go out in vain.

We end with social time, also known as play time. This is where relationships are formed and trust, community and love are developed. 

Who would've thought the church nursery could provide a small picture of the larger church! 

As I close, I would ask that you pray this week for our families, especially those with children under five. As we have discovered whilst reopening the nursery, this year of COVID has been particularly hard on them. Pray that the nursery will be a place of peace. Pray that the joy of the Lord will be evident to all those who use the nursery or serve in there.

 

Photo by Sergiu Vălenaș on Unsplash

Posted by Ingrid Orr

Worrying (In a Good Way)

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Most of you would not take too kindly to a pastoral invitation to start worrying. Isn’t that the sort of thing that Jesus said not to do (cf. Matt. 6:25-34)?

But words are interesting and there is a type of worrying that is very pastoral. A quick etymological search on worry finds that its Germanic (almost Dutch!) roots formed the Old English word wyrgan which means to ‘strangle’. It is easy to see how this has morphed over the years to describe a feeling of anxiety that grabs us by the throat! But worry in this older sense is still used today to talk about a dog with a bone. The dog worries the bone as it grips it in its teeth, drags it through the yard, and contentedly gnaws it for hours.

Why am I talking about dogs and bones?  This is the image that Eugene Peterson uses in his book entitled Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading, to talk about the way that we assimilate the Word. The term the psalmist uses for this type of worrying is the word meditation. The Hebrew word translated as meditation has at its root “to coo or to growl”, a dog with its bone. From Psalm 1 and its description of the blessed man who meditates on the law of God day and night (v.2), to our current journey through Psalm 119 (8 times) we are invited to meditate on the word of God; to worry it like a dog with a bone. 

We are going to delve into the importance of worrying a bit more on Sunday as we unpack the idea of the Word of God making wise the simple. For now let me simply say again, we are not talking about duty as much as we are talking about love. Dogs don’t worry their bones out of a sense of duty, but rather because they love the flavor and they were made to gnaw bones. The psalmist connects love to meditation so clearly in Psalm 11:97 when he says, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” May the Lord increase our love for him and his word.

 

Photo by Chewy on Unsplash

Our Greatest Problem. Our Greatest Hope.

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What would you say is the greatest problem that humanity faces? Is it the lingering effects of the pandemic? Race relations in the US? Greed of the upper class? Sexual confusion or aberration? Lack of respect for life, both at its inception as well as at its end? All of these are legitimate, grief inducing challenges for humanity, challenges that need to be seen and responded to through the lens of God's word. BUT they are not our greatest problem. Humanity's greatest problem, through the ages and across cultures, is that we as people cannot live up to the holiness of God. We cannot qualify as righteous in his sight outside of divine intervention. Our crisis, as the apostle puts it, is that we are dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:8,9), having failed to meet the standard for righteousness (Romans 3:23). This is the truth that binds humanity together, rich, poor, black, white, brown, young, old, no exceptions.

Which leads us to our greatest hope. God, who is rich in mercy, has provided a solution. God, who helps the helpless, has opened a door, provided a way. What we could never do on our own he has done through the work of Jesus. Our souls were dead, but through his finished work they can be revived! Reviving the soul, translated in the ESV as “give me life,” is specifically mentioned in eleven verses in Psalm 119, verses 25, 37, 40, 50, 88, 93, 107, 149, 154, 156, and 159. Understanding our need and God's provision will be our focus for this week. 

What about all those other problems that we mentioned at the start of this reflection? They are real too. Do we just ignore them? Of course not, but we have to start at the beginning in order to make sense of our world. 

For instance, I recently came across a quote that captures the very real, ongoing sense of loss and grief that many feel with respect to the pandemic. It is a powerful quote that caused me to remember that many in our CC community, as well as our greater GR community, are sharing this perspective: "Even if a person has survived the pandemic, people they love are dead, [life is] permanently altered, .... Now, staring down the oft-invoked 'return to normalcy,' I don’t know how to metabolize such a towering sense of collective grief, and one that’s infused practically everything I’ve ever known" (Molly Osberg). What I realized is that outside of God's word, outside of the greater story of life, death and soul revival I do not know how to offer hope to these deep wells of grief. Promise of a vaccine cannot match this grief. A "return to normalcy" sounds empty. But life in the Son, peace and purpose that is secured by our Creator, there is true hope. Of course there are practicalities that need to be navigated, but our hope is secure. 

 

Photo by Nicolas Peyrol on Unsplash

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