Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

Then They Cried To The Lord

November 20th:

Joint Thanksgiving Service with the Presbyterians.
Text:           Psalm 107

                Then They Cried to the Lord

I am sure that there are those who would take issue with me,
        But as far as I am concerned,
        The psalm we just read
                Was inserted into our scriptures in 2003.

I don't know what was located between Psalms 106 and 108 before 2003,
        But I do know that 2003 was the year I discovered this psalm.

I found it because I was given the assignment to read it
        At Massena's ecumenical Thanksgiving service.

What still amuses me is that the pastor who assigned me that reading
Had neglected to tell me that I was to only read a part of it

And taking my responsibility seriously
(as you would have expected me to)
I read all 43 verses.

And while I cannot tell you
whether my colleagues or that evening's worshippers
        were glad about that,

I can tell you that preparing to read the entire psalm
        Not only introduced it to me
        But also gave me a much greater appreciation
                Of its impact, its power, and its beauty
                        Than I could possibly have received
had I only read a part of it.

This psalm - like many of the psalms -
        Is meant to be read aloud
This psalm - like many of the psalms -
        Is meant to be heard
And I believe
This psalm - like many of the psalms -
Is meant to be read and heard in its entirety.

For what brings the words of the psalm alive
        Is the psalm's repeating rhythm
And we can hear that so much better when we read it aloud,

When I read it,         I hear a drum beat behind it
In fact,                I hear an entire orchestra playing

Each movement of the psalm begins with the strings and double reeds
playing in a haunting minor key
telling us, along with the words
        that some had experienced troubles & reached their breaking point
                So they cried out to the Lord

And then come the clarinets, the flutes, and the piccolos conveying to us
        That the Lord delivered those who cried out
        By bringing them out from the darkness and gloom of their trouble
        And saving them from their distress

And finally, the brass- the trumpets and trombones - lead the celebration
        In which the rescued people give thanks to the Lord
Thanks  For God's steadfast love
Thanks  For God's wonderful works and gifts to human kind

Four times through the pattern repeats itself
        Distress        Cry out deliverance     thanksgiving

The pattern is unmistakable
The message too is unmistakable
        It is God who delivers us from our distress and troubles
        And our proper response is to give thanks to God

        God's people have not always responded that way

In chapter 13 of Hosea,
        God utters some of the saddest words in our scriptures
                "When I fed them, they were satisfied
                They were satisfied and their heart was proud
                Therefore, they forgot me."             [Hosea 13:6]

The repetitive rhythm of our psalm gives the idea of the variety of ways God helps

In the first of the four distress movements
        The people were hungry and thirsty
        And God delivered them

In the second
        The people were imprisoned
        And God saved them

In the third
        The people were sick
        And God healed them

In the fourth
        The people were caught in a storm at sea
        And God brought them out

Different problems      Different fears Different causes

But the common threads were
        That God was with them
        That God loved them
        That God heard them
        That God delivered them

Most of us              have never been desperately hungry or thirsty
Most of us              have never been imprisoned
Most of us      have never been so sick that we didn't think we would recover
Not many of us  have been caught in a storm at sea.

But all of us   have felt alone
                Have been frightened
                Have been so confused that we didn't know what to do
and     have felt unredeemable as a result of our failures

This symphonic psalm reminds us to not forget
        That God is with us
        That God loves us
        That God will hear us when we cry out
        That God will deliver us
                Although not always in the manner that we expect.

But as comforting as that is,
the reason we are spending tonight with this psalm
is to hear those trumpets and those trombones remind us
        that our response to deliverance has to be
                thanking God for God's steadfast love
                thanking God for God's wonderful works
                thanking God for God's presence in our lives

That is the reminder we need
        Anyone can be in distress and call out desperately
But not everyone gives thanks for God's rescuing love
        And too many who do, do so without depth of gratitude
        For too many simply feel
                "Of course, God helped me
                Look at all I have done for God"

In 28 hours or so, it will be Thanksgiving Day.

I once heard a preacher say
        "I don't know why we even have a Thanksgiving Day.
        We should be thankful every day."

He was right in saying that "we should be thankful every day."

But he was wrong in thinking we don't need a Thanksgiving Day

For this day should do just what the psalm does
        Remind us that God has been good to us
And     Remind us that our response to God's goodness
                Is to be thankful
Instead of proud and satisfied
                        For then we, like Hosea's people,
                        Might find ourselves forgetting God.

So let's make a deal
        This Thursday,
                Between the turkey and the pie
                Between the games in Dallas and Detroit
                Between the arrivals and departures of guests

You and I will each take some time to give God thanks
        Out of gratitude and not out of obligation
And let's also make a covenant with ourselves
        To offer that thanks each day of our lives

After all, as much as the people in the psalm had to be thankful for
        You and I have even more
For we know that God sent God's son   to live with us   and to die for us.