|Contemporary Worship this week at Normal First United Methodist Church|
Here is my message from this past weekend at Normal First United Methodist Church. If you live in the Bloomington-Normal area or are ever passing through on a Sunday morning, I hope you will join us for worship. I generally preach and lead worship at the Contemporary 11:10 am worship service in the fellowship hall, but we have 3 worship services on Saturday evening and Sunday morning to meet your needs!
Not exactly as preached, but you get the idea, at least…
This psalm has turned out to be timeless. It has appealed to people throughout time: Calvin called it a Pauline Psalm because, he said, it contained the truth of the gospels. John Wesley heard this psalm sung earlier in the day and it prepared him for an evening on Aldersgate street when his heart would be strangely warmed.
I think this psalm is timeless because everyone can relate to these words. Despair is a universal experience, isn’t it?
After my mother was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma -an ear tumor- and had brain surgery to remove it about a year ago: I immediately realized that I had similar symptoms. So, last July, I went to my doctor. That was a long wait in the waiting room. They called in an audiologist, then an Ear Nose Throat Surgeon…intense and long waiting.
They wanted only to ‘rule out’ an acoustic neuroma. So we thought we were coming to some resolution when we scheduled with BroMenn for an MRI. It turned out that I didn’t have one of those…but they found a totally unrelated brain tumor in my cerebellum
It was four o’clock on a friday and I found out there was a mass in my brain. That weekend our imaginations went wild. My wife and I fell into the depths of waiting and waiting can cause despair. That weekend was the longest wait of our lives.
I waited until January for a plan of action and to schedule surgery. I waited until February for my surgery. After my surgery I thought I had made it through…but a spinal fluid leak brought me back to St. Louis for another operation in April. It turned out that recovery is just another kind of waiting!
It wasn’t just a brain tumor that left me waiting during this past year. Because my church knew they could no longer afford two pastors, I’ve known I was leaving Pontiac since last fall. If there has been a theme for my year, it is waiting and despair.
Even once it was announced that I would be coming to First United Methodist Church, I found myself excited, but still on medical leave and still waiting.
Like so many people who have come before me, I identify with the Psalmist. A psalmist who was in the depths and waiting… and waiting… and waiting, “more than the night watch waits for morning.”
The psalmist reminds us of the importance of faith that a new day will come. The psalmist reminds us that no matter how far we are lost into the depths; no matter how alone we feel, no matter how much has been placed upon us… no matter what has set us back… hope is the greatest ally we have. That is to say: leaning on God, and having faith that a new morning will come is the greatest comfort we can experience.
I imagine each person here has a time when they were in the depths and waiting. This church has been waiting and in transition these past few months and, I imagine, there is anxiety as you wait for a new pastor.
I have faith that my appointment at Normal First United Methodist Church is the new morning I have been waiting for during this long hard period ‘in the depths.’ I have faith that the people of First Church, the community of Bloomington-Normal and the campus community will bring light into my world and strengthen my faith!
And I hope, that after months of transition and months of waiting for a new associate, that I will brighten up your world, support you in your faith, and join in your disciple-making work here in this community.