Der Vasken's Sermon on September 20, 2020

Sep 22, 2020

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

"Do not fret because of the wicked. Trust in the Lord and Do good...."

I think we can all think back to a time when someone said something to us at just the right moment.  Someone said something to us just when we needed to hear those words. That is what happened to me this past week with the words of this quote.  I heard these words just when I most needed to hear them.  Let me tell you why. 

I was driving to church one day last week and as I often do while driving, I tuned into the news station to stay a little bit better informed with what is going on in the world around us and here is what I heard.  In the City of Los Angeles two police officers were shot in an ambush and as if that wasn't bad enough, protestors stood nearby watching and shouting that they should be shot.  Another story was about an ambulance that was rushing to an emergency room of a nearby hospital, but when they arrived, they found that the entrance was deliberately blocked by protestors to prevent the ambulance from entering.  

From there, the news spoke of wildfires and extreme heat burning across the western states with some of the fires set by carelessness and others by arsonists.  These raging fires are so intense that the smoke has reached as far away as New Jersey.  In the South, Hurricane Sally brought history-making rains to the Gulf States dropping some four months' worth of rain in less than four hours.  And of course, there was talk of anticipated increases as the pandemic lingers on into the fall season. And on and on and on these stores went.  So to be honest, that was a hard day.  I felt discouraged and all I did was drive the short distance from my home to the church with the radio on.

And I know that I am not alone in feeling this way.  I spoke with three other people this week, who each described similar feelings.  But what I did when I arrived to my desk made all the difference in my day.  I did what I have told many people to do over the years when they felt discouraged about the world around them.  I opened my Bible and let God speak to me.  I randomly started flipping back and forth between the Old Testament and the New Testament and began reading wherever my eyes landed.  And that is when I came across those words from the 37th Psalm that Ann read to us a moment ago.

Those words had an instant effect on me. It felt like the clouds, that covered by mood, started to clear.  It felt like the sun came out and I was able to look up again.  Listen again to the words I needed to hear at that moment.  "Do not fret because of the wicked, but Trust in the Lord and Do good..."  This Psalm is considered one of the "Wisdom Psalms" of the Old Testament for obvious reasons. It conveys time-tested, spiritual wisdom.

Put your trust in God because, in the long run, the righteous prosper and the wicked perish.  But in this day and age, it is hard for us to see the wisdom in these words, isn't it?  It is hard to accept this idea when we see things happening around us that make no sense--that don't seem just or fair or right.  How do we focus our lives, focus our attention and focus our energy on doing what is right and doing what is correct in the eyes of God when it is deemed acceptable to burn a store down in the name of protest, or when we hear of an ambulance that is carrying an ill person to the hospital but is stopped in the name of protest?

And when we see and hear of these types of disturbing acts going on in our cities and towns, how are we to feel?  How are we to hold our heads up and move forward?  How are we to explain these things to our children who see what we see?  Part of what I think this Psalm is asking us is this.  Where are we going to put our energy and our attention?   Is it in the prosperity and power of the wicked or in the Wisdom of God?  That is the challenge for all of us and it is not an easy challenge because when we look around us, we see that our world is off kilter.

  • Our world has multiplied its possessions but reduced its values.
  • We argue too much, love too seldom and hate too often.
  • We spend too recklessly, laugh too little and live too fast.
  • We get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired and read too little.
  • We spend too much time on the Internet and pray too seldom.
  • We are about to reach for Mars but too many people have trouble reaching out to meet their neighbor and this list, too, can go on and on.
This Psalm is telling us that, if we let ourselves become overwhelmed with all that is wrong or evil or unjust in this world, we won't have the energy or "the where with all" to do the work of God and make our world a better place and that is where He wants us to focus.  We focus on the God, Who Is the God of Wisdom.  And He is telling us to "Trust in Him and Do good...."  

I will end with this.  Anybody, who has been paying attention to what is going on in our world, has plenty of reason to fret.  But we can also fret about our families, our friends, our jobs, our checkbooks or our health.  Everybody gets fretful at times, but God wants us to stay up in the down times and in this Psalm, He shows us how.

So tomorrow morning when we head back to the office and put on the radio, may Psalm 37 speak to our hearts and help us to Trust in God and Do good and help make our world a better place. Trust in God and Do good because that will make our world a better place.

Amen.  

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