Today’s Readings:

Isaiah 12:1-6 (New Revised Standard Version)

12 You will say in that day:
I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
and you comforted me.

Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid,
for the Lord God[a] is my strength and my might;
he has become my salvation.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day:

Give thanks to the Lord,
call on his name;
make known his deeds among the nations;
proclaim that his name is exalted.

Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be known[b] in all the earth.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal[c] Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Psalm 95: 1-7 (New Revised Standard Version)

A Call to Worship and Obedience

O come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and the dry land, which his hands have formed.
O come, let us worship and bow down,
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.

O that today you would listen to his voice!

Thoughts on Today’s Reading—From Pastor Pam

The ancient Hebrew believers lived close to nature. They also lived close to God and they drew on their Creator with intensity and belief. They shared their pain, fear, anxiousness and joy. We see this in the Old Testament texts.

Today, for many people, there is separation from the elements and one another. For many, fear and anxiety, frustration and challenges of life are real if not so much physical as emotional. Physical pain exists, too. Many suffer from addiction and other illnesses. Suffering is acute and relentless.

Like the ancient people, today many live close to nature although it is not a pleasant experience. A drive along highways and open spaces give evidence to growing numbers of homeless people surviving in makeshift tents often surrounded by debris in often dangerous spaces. We also know that some of the world is a desperate place as people wander to escape violence, hunger and other life-threatening situations.

And so, where can we find joy in desperate circumstances? Part of how the ancients coped was through daily relationship with God. Faith life was crucial. God was celebrated in the good times as well as the hard ones. The Psalms echo the sentiments of humble people centering themselves in God and finding joy in something greater than themselves. Joy is in connection with God and one another.

This Sunday we’ll consider ways to address the obstacles in life that make deep and foundational joy seemingly impossible. We’ll consider some old lessons and some new approaches that began with the New Covenant of Jesus Christ.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Pam