View today's sermon on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpDDmG-0YC8.
1 Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path that sinners tread or sit in the seat of scoffers, 2 but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night. 3 They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.
4 The wicked are not so but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous, 6 for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together,
35 and one of them, an expert in the law, asked him a question to test him.
36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
37 He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
38 This is the greatest and first commandment.
39 And a second is like it:
‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Two weeks ago when I was in this pulpit, it was to offer solace and comfort at the start of the Israel / Hamas war. Here we are again today, absorbing tragedy, this one much closer to home.
It has been a hard week. A hard month. A hard couple of years.
It is okay to be angry. We move through stages of grief. Eventually we need to move to Love.
How are you coping? What are you doing to take care of yourselves?
How have you been affected by this tragedy in Lewiston?
Do you hear any comfort in these scriptures this morning?
What scriptures bring you comfort?
Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd…
Micah 6:8 Do justice, Love Kindness, Walk humbly with God
What hymns lift your spirit?
Who did you reach out to this week? Who reached out to you?
How are you taking care of your mental health? And physical health?
What would help you to cope this next week?
Psalm 1 asserts that the righteous are happy… many of us in this sanctuary and participating online are arguably righteous people… and yet we are certainly not happy.
Many of us do not feel happy this week due to the events in Lewiston.
Many of us do not feel happy this month watching the devastation unfold in Israel and Gaza.
Many of us are not happy this year as war stretches beyond 18 months in Ukraine and Russia.
What is the Psalmist trying to say? Our daily circumstances may be difficult, painful, unjust – and yet we can be happy that God is with us, and we are with God – in our hearts, souls, and minds, and in our thoughts, words, and deeds.
The Psalmist informs us that we can find delight in walking in the ways of God. When with God we are like trees planted by streams of water which bear their fruit in season. When we stray from God we are like the chaff that the wind drives away.
Yes, even though we suffer loss and pain and death, God is with us. God does not protect us from such things, but God is with us in all things.
The shooter in Lewiston was clearly a tortured soul. He was like the chaff, driven away from right behavior, perhaps by the winds of mental illness.
What I hear the Psalmist promise in the final verses is that good will always prevail over evil. Always. Not fast enough for our desires. Not without immeasurable pain. Yet always.
From Matthew’s Gospel we are reminded that as Christians we are called to follow the way of Jesus. His way was the way of love. The path he trod leads to God. It is a path of great joy and jubilation. It is a path of pain and sorrow. A path of peace and justice. A path that requires loving God and neighbor. A path of difficulty. A path streaming with imperfect but striving individuals such as ourselves.
We must examine our own hearts. What does it mean to love our neighbor? And who is our neighbor? These are age-old questions that require our wholehearted engagement.
Let us all pray for the people of Lewiston. For one another. That we do not lose hope. That we do not quit striving. That we do not quit caring.
Life is precious. We are never more certain of that than when the life of a loved one has ended. Let us strive to live with this truth foremost in our hearts every minute of each day that we have.
Amen Rev. TJ Mack – October 29, 2023