Free & Fit – MLK Reflection - Sunday Sermon – Westwood United Methodist Church
Free & Fit NYC – MLK Reflection - Sunday Sermon – Westwood United Methodist Church
Psalm 40 The Message (MSG)
A David Psalm
40 1-3 I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip. He taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God.
4-5 Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God, turn your backs on the world’s “sure thing,” ignore what the world worships; The world’s a huge stockpile of God-wonders and God-thoughts. Nothing and no one comes close to you! I start talking about you, telling what I know, and quickly run out of words. Neither numbers nor words account for you.
6 Doing something for you, bringing something to you— that’s not what you’re after. Being religious, acting pious— that’s not what you’re asking for. You’ve opened my ears so I can listen.
7-8 So I answered, “I’m coming. I read in your letter what you wrote about me, And I’m coming to the party you’re throwing for me.” That’s when God’s Word entered my life, became part of my very being.
9-10 I’ve preached you to the whole congregation, I’ve kept back nothing, God—you know that. I didn’t keep the news of your ways a secret, didn’t keep it to myself. I told it all, how dependable you are, how thorough. I didn’t hold back pieces of love and truth For myself alone. I told it all, let the congregation know the whole story.
11-12 Now God, don’t hold out on me, don’t hold back your passion. Your love and truth are all that keeps me together. When troubles ganged up on me, a mob of sins past counting, I was so swamped by guilt I couldn’t see my way clear. More guilt in my heart than hair on my head, so heavy the guilt that my heart gave out.
13-15 Soften up, God, and intervene; hurry and get me some help, So those who are trying to kidnap my soul will be embarrassed and lose face, So anyone who gets a kick out of making me miserable will be heckled and disgraced, So those who pray for my ruin will be booed and jeered without mercy.
16-17 But all who are hunting for you— oh, let them sing and be happy. Let those who know what you’re all about tell the world you’re great and not quitting. And me? I’m a mess. I’m nothing and have nothing: make something of me. You can do it; you’ve got what it takes— but God, don’t put it off.
Father forgive me for I have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, by what I have done and left undone. Said and left unsaid. Remind me of who you are Lord, restore me in who you are Lord and redeem me because of who you are Lord. Todays message is entitled “forgive me” we will be looking at Psalm 40 and reciting this specific prayer three times with scripture, reflections and prayers to close.
In the Passion Translation, from today’s reading in Psalm 40, in verse one the Psalmist tells me exactly what I want to hear….” I waited and waited and waited some more” …. Hold the phone…. that’s me. Is that you? Are you patiently waiting? Asking God to answer your questions?
Father we gather with you here today where the unpredictable happens, where our prayers seem to linger without answers and our cries to you seem to drift into the distance. Where my terribly inconsistent football team turn into a dream team and win 1-0 at home? Surely that’s an answer to prayer Tim I hear you say. Its TRUE! My team, Queens Park Rangers of the Soccer Championship in my beloved England town recorded only their third shut out of twenty-eight attempts and having conceded fifty one goals. It makes no sense. Especially when they score forty-six for the season. Why O lord yesterday? Why yesterday when on so many other occasions they have collapsed in the last minute and lost?
For example, the last four or five times when Liza and I have gone to see them play in person. Why do unpredictable things happen? Why did Harry and Megan leave the Royal Family Lord? And why did we get a 68-degree temperate Saturday followed by a week later with a Saturday with minus Celsius and Snow? Why Lord? The Psalmist from today’s reading feels my pain, he’s on my side and I am certain we would get along. Yet he is trusting in Gods unfailing love, rejoicing in his salvation Jesus Christ and Knowing God would come through! The Psalmist cries out in joy….” Then, at last, he bent down and listened to my cry!” It reminds me of getting good grades from my assignments after waiting four weeks since the end of term and having all sorts of anxiety about how well I was doing at school. Yet God is faithful, God is able, and God is a present help in times of trouble.
Forgive me Father for I have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, by what I have done and left undone. Said and left unsaid. Remind me of who you are Lord, restore me in who you are Lord and redeem me because of who you are Lord. When considering the life and story of Martin Luther King Junior I wanted to get an honest reflection about who he was, what he stood for and how people today perceive his life. It’s a tough question to ask anyone. Let alone the man himself. Two years after his popular speech where he is infamously quoted as saying “I have a dream.” Comes another speech, a sermon in fact, where he questions his own vision, his own ideology and his own version of what this dream meant.
Here he is to explain to us himself what he said:
"I've seen my dream shattered as I've walked the streets of Chicago and seen us (*Bleep*), young men and women, with a sense of utter hopelessness because they can't find any jobs. ... I've seen my dream shattered as I've been through Appalachia, and I've seen my white brothers along with us (*Bleep*) living in poverty. And I'm concerned about white poverty as much as I'm concerned about our own (*Bleep*) poverty."
What do others say in response today?: "The dream is now clearly tied to equal job opportunities and decent wages," says Thomas Jackson, author of "From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice."
"King asks us all: How are you going to have a multiracial democracy if inequality makes life is so harsh and competitive at the bottom, where society is most multiracial and multinational?"
When I read this from an article printed by CNN, I found myself struggling to be able to answer Mr. Kings question. My initial thoughts were that it was not possible then and its still not possible today, but that was more a flesh type of response. It wasn’t me reflecting upon considering today’s passage from Psalm 40. Indeed, it made me feel like the Psalmist once more. That I was Psalm 40 verse 16: b to 17 which says “And me? I’m a mess. I’m nothing and have nothing: make something of me. You can do it; you’ve got what it takes— but God, don’t put it off.’
So, with that I used one of the trusted gifts God has given me speaking openly to strangers about what I am preaching on Sunday morning. Next to me was an American African male who was willing not to be tapped on the shoulder, but was willing to discuss with me about the issue and his own thoughts on what he thought was an issue not just for America, but for the rest of the world he told me that everywhere in the world holds these issues of multiracial, multinational and social inequality from the top of their social class ladder to the bottom. He quoted America, Europe, Australia, China, New Zealand and even the United Kingdom. He said this is nor an old or nor an American issue, but a global issue which does not necessarily mean its impossible to achieve, but perhaps it is a dream. A far away place and somewhere which we may not see in our lifetime. That was when it clicked. Perhaps it not in this lifetime, but indeed we will experience it in heaven. In Matthew 5:3 it says blessed are the poor in Spirit for they will receive the Kingdom of God. And as Martin Luther King points out and my friend in the coffee shop in Starbucks told me the answer is not here on this planet, but with our God in eternity with him.
Forgive me Father for I have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, by what I have done and left undone. Said and left unsaid. Remind me of who you are Lord, restore me in who you are Lord and redeem me because of who you are Lord. Recently after travelling for twenty-four hours back from the United Kingdom I did the silliest thing of leaving my backpack on the bus, it had all my important documentation, laptop and possessions in.
However, somehow with the help of friends donations of amazon vouchers, a laptop that I read to you from this morning, a new backpack arriving tomorrow, a green card that got expedited after waiting fourteen months, and various other acts of kindness God showed to me, through friends and his glorious richness, again he shows he can work all things together for his good. Trusting in the Lord may not be always easy and I myself often find myself stuck in the mud, or like many of us this morning, stuck in the snow. When we least expect God shows up, he teaches us his unfailing love and grace through the miracle of his sovereignty, through his ability to reveal truth to us in spite or our circumstance, suffering or difficulty. In the case of Martin Luther King, in the case of many inspirational leaders and many of us today we do not know the impact of our ministries, the impact of our lives or the impact of our life until we get to heaven where our treasure is truly stored.
The point is that we should not place our trust in ourselves, our circumstances (no matter how good or bad) or be over reliant upon our own or other people’s influence, decision making or opinion. We should avoid focusing all our feelings and emotions on the outcome of our own results. Then, if instead we trust the Lord, we won’t have
to be completely heart broken or disappointed. Praising and Worshipping Jesus Christ is the way we should go.
Let us Pray...
Forgive me Father for I have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, by what I have done and left undone. Said and left unsaid. Remind me of who you are Lord, restore me in who you are Lord and redeem me because of who you are Lord.