Psalm 40: From the Bog to Blessing (ARBC Worship for August 14, 2022)

A few years ago someone brought to mind the need for a gospel accent. The thing about accents is that they are an indicator of where we’re from. Accents come from the community from which we are surrounded: family, neighbors, School, jobs, etc. Even in our church of about 100, it’s very clear to hear whether you are from the American South, New England, or even in Colorado which doesn’t seem to have any accent to me at all. So when I begin to talk, it is very clear then I am not from the state. Some of you are not from this country at all. Some of you are from the Caribbean, south america, New Zealand, and I’m sure we’ve had others that have joined us from various parts of the world.

But then I came across a podcast last week called Church Grammar. The definition of grammar is the whole system and structure of a language or of languages in general, usually taken is consisting of syntax and morphology including inflections and sometimes also phonology and semantics. In other words, every language has a system of rules that govern language regarding sounds, words, sentences, and interpretation. What does that have to do with anything we’re talking about right now?

The fact is that Christians have their own language and syntax and grammar and accent. How we talk is a reflection of the community and neighbors we have as part of the kingdom of God and the body of Christ itself. People can tell from how we talk and how we act if we are part of this world or not. The line of demarcation in our culture now is growing more and more bold and thick. No longer do we have a residue of a Christian ethic that pervades our culture and our movies and our books and our shows and our language. Clearly, the culture wishes to have a different set of rules and accents. While we most certainly need to make sure that we understand the language and the rules of the culture and how they speak in order to communicate the gospel, the more we communicate the gospel in God’s word, the more we will be seen to be out of touch.

The temptation will be to resist being rejected and therefore throw off who we are and what we believe and try to get rid of that accent. Don’t give in. For Christ is rescued us from the bog and has brought us into his perfect blessing. Psalm 40 reminds us of our accent. We are reminded of where we were, what God is doing now, and how we desperately need him moving forward. We do not know what’s ahead, but we can most certainly look back and see all that he has already done and are being reminded that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. What he did before, and what he’s doing now, he will keep doing.

Psalm 32: From a Heavy Hand to Our Hiding Place: The Blessedness of Being Forgiven

When it comes to analyzing our society, it seems that our culture struggles with the notion of guilt. In a 2017 article in the UK’s Guardian, Devorah Baum starts off the article by saying, “I feel guilty about everything. Already today I’ve felt guilty about having said the wrong thing to a friend. Then I felt guilty about avoiding that friend because of the wrong thing I’d said. Plus, I haven’t called my mother yet today; guilty. And I really should have organised something special for my husband’s birthday: guilty. I have the wrong kind of food to my child: guilty. I’ve been cutting corners at work lately: guilty. I skipped breakfast: guilty. I snacked instead: double guilty. I’m taking up all this space in a world with no enough space in it: guilty, guilty, guilty.”

Later in the article, she says something that I found interesting: “What is the potency of guilt? With its inflationary logic, guilt looks, if anything, to have accumulated over time. Although we tend to blame religion of condemning man to life as a sinner, the guilt that may have attached to specific vices–vices for which religious communities could prescribe appropriate penance–now seems, in a more secular era, to surface in relation to just about anything: food, sex, money, work, unemployment, leisure, health, fitness, politics, family, friends, colleagues, strangers, entertainment, travel, the environment, you name it.”

As Baum goes through the various types of guilt, and even believes that society blames religion for this notion of self-effacing guilt, she notes that the secular world does the same thing, assigning guilt to parents, to certain races, to political parties–just venture into the world of social media. If you say what you really feel about something, the trolls will come out and demean you for having such ideas that are too right, too centric, too left. Guilt is a significant part of who we are, and I would suggest that all guilt–especially guilt that comes from understanding God’s Word–is necessary and helpful!

This Psalm takes us on a journey–a journey of going from the heavy hand of God due to our sin to the hopefulness of our rescue to the way we are called to help others in their understanding of this guilt and how Christ assuages that guilt.

The Valleys You Walk (Poem)

There is a type of fatigue
That sleep cannot beat
Nor make retreat.
It is a sadness of soul
From pole to pole
That afflicts the whole
Of your body and mind
Unlike any kind
You see or feel
Or experience–real
Truth needs apprehending,
Needs comprehending
Without wasting or spending
Time denying or relying
Or justifying away the reasons
The seasons that take you through the
Valleys you walk.
Let’s talk.

It’s the problem of expectations
We have in the relations
That form us, that storm us
In matters either real or perceived
The latter which deceives
Unless we receive
Truth, not “truth” conceived
In the mind of man
That cannot span
In the realm of time that sets a trajectory
Which is affecting me
In the here and now.
How?

Our trajectory goes to into eternity
So even the hurt in me
Keeps hurtin’ me
The reflected perspective
Is the eternal objective
Of keeping my eyes on Jesus–
Even when my heart is in pieces.
When my eyes are on me
I want to flee.
When my eyes are on others,
I have my ‘druthers,’
When my eyes are on Him,
I can’t just skim the rim.
I need to go slow ’cause
I need to focus
On that which is true
To keep that in view.

Feelings are filling.
I m just be willing to engage
That which must stay center stage.
Christ.
Our all in all.
He breaks our fall.
To Him, I’ll call.
I won’t stall.

(2022)