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Greetings! Here is a full video of the pastoral message for this Sunday, March 22.

Posted by Holy Shepherd Lutheran Church on Sunday, March 22, 2020

Good morning ... and WELCOME!!! Whether you’re accessing this sermon

• via an audio recording on our website ...
• via a video recording on Facebook ...
• via a transcript sent by email ...
• or maybe even just a paper copy sent via snail mail ...

GOOD ON YOU! I applaud you for taking the time to connect with your church family.

Pastor Pam and I are fully aware that this COVID-19 time is a weird time for ALL of us ...

• dealing with an order to ‘shelter-in-place’ ...

• being directed to eliminate ‘unnecessary travel’ and being forbidden from gathering in groups ...

• wondering if there will EVER be paper towels and toilet paper available at the grocery store or Costco again.

We're all in the same boat in that way ...

But then again ... I suspect that each of our seats in that one same boat are radically different!

I mean ...

• Some of us have MORE to do than we’ve ever had to deal with before ... while some of us have far LESS to do than what we usually do in the course of regular days.

• Some of us are feeling angst-ful about having too LITTLE human interaction in our lives amid this shut-down ... while some of us ... and here I’m thinking particularly of all those parents of at-home children out there ... are begging for just a LITTLE peace-and-quiet.

• Some of us are worried up to here with the financial woes that have accompanied the Coronavirus ... while some of us on fixed incomes are able to take it all in stride.

• Some of us are doing what we can to keep up with what’s going on out there in the world ... and some of us are just trying to avoid being beset by the latest from the talking heads.

We ARE all in that one same boat ... but our seats in that boat are radically different!

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That being said ... no matter which seat in the boat we occupy ... I can’t but imagine that each and every one of us has felt some emotions coursing through our veins this week that aren’t there most of the time.

Whether you’re beset by wonder or worry ... isolation or over-engagement ... exhaustion or emptiness or ennui ... feelings bubble to the surface ... and we can’t much keep those feelings in check ... even if we’d like to.

Those feelings ... they’re feelings! They just happen!

You know ... among the dumbest things I’ve ever said ... be it as a parent or a pastor or just a person on the street ... are related to the subject of feelings:

• Telling someone “Don’t feel that way” ... or

• Inquiring “You really don’t feel that way, do you?” ... or maybe

• Pontificating “That’s not an appropriate feeling for you to be having right now.”

I of all people should know that!

I had to take my share of pastoral care classes back in seminary.

I know that feelings come and go as they please.

• Some of them are understandable ... some are not.
• Some are explainable ... some are not.
• Some of them haunt us for just a day ... others linger for decades.

Feelings are an emotional response to a stimulus ... be it internal or external. They just are!

But ... as some wise soul once noted ... “Feelings are like waves, we can't stop them from coming but we can choose which one to surf.”

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Anyhow ... whenever I get to thinking about feelings ... and how they play off against our faith ... I get to thinking about the Psalms.

You see ... the book in the Bible called “the Psalms” is the prayer-book of the Bible.

The Psalms is a book shot full of feelings ... very human feelings ... the whole gamut of feelings ...

• happy ...
• sad ...
• angry ...
• envious ...
• fearful ...
• fretful ...
• ALL of it!

In fact ... John Calvin once noted that “There is not an emotion of which any one can be conscious that is not represented [in the Psalms] as in a mirror.”

So ... for instance ... consider the opening couple of verses of Psalm 69.

Now Psalm 69 isn’t a Psalm we read very often in the context of worship ... but as I was leafing through the Psalms earlier this week ... it’s opening words kind of jumped out at me.

Listen to what the Psalmist writes:

Save me, O God,
For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
Where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
And the flood sweeps over me.

Those don’t sound much like our usual churchy words ...

They don’t much sound like the sort of songs that we usually sing here on Sunday mornings ... even though they were originally a song ,.. and they are a part of the Bible!

But I can’t help but wonder if any of the rest of you can relate to what the psalm-writer was trying to say there ... because I sure can!

It’s this plea ... “I’m sinking, Lord ... and I really, really, really need your help!”

Or maybe ... "We’re sinking, Lord ... and we really, really, really need your help!"

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Actually ... I’m not tech-savvy enough to figure out how to do it ... but I really wish I could video link Tom Henry and Marc Levine in here this morning ... and have them put those lyrics to a tune.

And play for you a song that many of you know ... a song that I suspect some of you know by heart ... that does a pretty good job of articulating precisely what it is that Psalm 69 is trying to convey.

But since I can’t pull that off here this morning ... you’re going to have to put up with me signing it a capella ... for that song ... it goes like this:

When I was younger, so much younger than today
I never needed anybody's help in any way
But now these days are gone and I'm not so self assured
Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being 'round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you please, please help me

And now my life has changed in oh so many ways
My independence seems to vanish in the haze
But every now and then I feel so insecure
I know that I just need you like I've never done before

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being 'round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you please, please help me

You heard that song before??

If so ... you KNOW what Psalm 69 is all about!

• It’s a cry for help ...

• It’s a cry of helplessness ...

• It’s a cry that says “My life ... our lives ... are out of our control ... that what used to seem so simple now seems so complex ... that I ... for my own part ... just can’t hold it together anymore.

And I wonder ... can any of us relate to that right now???

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But there are a couple of lessons that are buried for us in the text of these opening verses of Psalm 69 .... lessons that are so basic that ... when I tell you what they are is probably going to leave you saying say “No duh, Pastor John. I’m not THAT stupid!”

That first of them is as simple as this:

“WHEN YOU NEED HELP ... BE HUMBLE ENOUGH TO LAY ASIDE YOUR PRIDE AND ASK FOR HELP.”

Kind of obvious ... huh???

But as one of your pastors ... and I don’t even need to check with Pastor Pam because I KNOW that she’ll agree with me on this one ... it grieves me the number of times people don’t ask ... and won’t ask ... for help until its too late.

Particularly in the face of this COVID Coronavirus thing ... don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help!

• Be it shopping for groceries ... because we’ve got some people here at church who’ve volunteered to do that sort of thing for you if you need it ...

• Be it reaching out when you need to hear a voice of reassurance ... because all this social distancing stuff can lead to isolation and loneliness in no short order ...

• Be it in relation to health concerns or financial pressure or relational frustrations or whatever!

The fact of the matter is that most of the time we can handle things on our own until it’s even too late for somebody else to handle them with us!

There’s no embarrassment in asking for help!

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The other thing we all can probably learn from this psalm may seem equally obvious and equally basic ... but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point it out to you either.

Whom is the One that the psalm-writer looks to for help?

The Lord our God!

Whom is the One that the psalm-writer invites us to look to for help?

The Lord our God!

Whom is the One who is there for us when all other helpers fail or flee?

The Lord our God!

The other day I wrote a letter to all you folks ... which hopefully you’ll receive in the mail tomorrow if you haven’t received it already ...

Which relayed a question that a whole lot of people seem to be talking about and wondering about these days: “Where is God in all this?”

• Some are saying this virus is proof that God exists ... and

• Others are saying that it is proof that God doesn’t exist ... and

• Still others that it’s all a mess .....

But what I’m saying ... what we’re saying ... what FAITH is saying ... is that we WILL make it through this pandemic.

That there are days yet ahead in which we will look back and see how the hand of God has guided us through these challenging days.

That doesn't mean that these days won't find us challenged ....

But we can know that the answer to the question "Where is God in all this?" is found in that still, small voice which says "I’m right here!"

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Now may the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

This sermon was offered by Pastor John Valentine on March, 22, 2020 — the fourth Sunday of the Season of Lent and the first Sunday of the COVID-19 ‘Shelter in Place’ order that closed our church campus.  The text it references is Psalm 69:1-2.

4 comments

  1. Howard Rodean - March 22, 2020 2:12 pm

    Thank you!

  2. Tracey B. - March 22, 2020 3:38 pm

    Dear Pastor-
    As usual….another insightful hopeful message. Perfect for today. Thank you. Wishing us all Peace.
    💖. Tracey

  3. Gerald Perry - March 22, 2020 4:48 pm

    Pastor John, Barbara and I thank you for your sermon for today. Good message, Jerry

  4. Herb Wehmeyer - March 25, 2020 12:30 pm

    Much needed words, I appreciate you’re doing these!

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