Welcome to another instalment of Brooklands Digital Church!
This week we have another packed service, of worship and teaching with content for all ages.
The message is given by our Pastor Karl Stanfield, and is available as an audio MP3 by clicking SAVE above.
The Bible readings are taken from Psalm 22:1-8 and Psalm 137:1-4.
Few of us saw this coming. Some people were enjoying their holiday abroad and are now trapped in a foreign land. Their prayer is – ‘Can I please come home?’ We have seen them on TV, hold up on a cruise ship and the idea of holiday making is long gone. People felt like a prisoner in their cabin. And now along with our neighbours, we feel l little like a prisoner too in our own homes; and this more-so in the weeks to come.
Despite many countries being in complete ‘lock-down mode’, I believe that God can speak to us uniquely in these times of trouble. To put it simply; in this time of extreme isolation – this is…
1. A Problem
Psalm 134 was written in a time of trouble for Judah. They were captive in a foreign land, longing to be home again. Like many of us, we just want things to be back to normal! They wanted things to be as they were before. But what is ‘normal’ anyway?
Those first three words from Ps 134 succinctly sum up how many are feeling right now. ‘How can we… [sing the lord’s song in a strange land?’] How can we ever sing again in such a situation? How can we live like this? How can we pay our rent or mortgage, the bills or provide for our loved ones? Perhaps right now you are feeling the pinch of Isolation.
We have never had our church meetings like this before, and this seems to be it for the near future. And how long will this continue to be the ‘norm’? One thing we do know is this; God’s people have often been in such situations. Our long history has often included captivity and persecution, floods and drought, war and threat to life and limb!
I hasten to add that Jesus himself went through times of hunger and drought, dangers and threats, arrest and isolation. That was certainly the case during his sudden arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, and His death upon the cross – we remember his cry, ‘My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?’ It was an inspired moment – was it not – his cry from the Cross. It speaks so much to our
present situations. It dawned upon me that this wasn’t Jesus dying with a problem upon his lips; no! It was in fact…
2. A Prayer
It wasn’t a problem, it was a Prayer! People could be excused for seeing this as an anguished cry from the cross – at the very moment of death. Perhaps even anger and disappointment that it should all end so… ignominiously!!
I wonder if, this morning, we could see it as a Prayer; Here is Jesus dying with a prayer upon his lips. It was not so much a moment of distress – because Jesus anticipated an answer more wonderful than any could imagine.
Perhaps Jesus was merely quoting from Psalm 22; drawing attention to someone in total anguish [who thinks he is ‘a worm and not a man’ (v.6); who thinks he is surrounded by lions about to ‘tear their prey’ (v.13)]. Friends, listen to verses 18– 19: “They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.” (Psalm 22:18–19)
It is very Prayer-Like, isn’t it? I hasten to state the obvious – that the next Psalm is Psalm 23! How marvellous! ‘The LORD is my Shepherd I shall not want!’ I wanted to tell you this morning that your Problems can be turned into Prayers!
God the Father heard Jesus’ prayer of lament. Was Jesus abandoned? [Perhaps he was for that moment – the moment The Sinless One look ALL our sins and failures upon Himself! Who truly knows, save Him who laid down his life, only to take it up again?] What we do know – is that Jesus was raised to life 40 hours later, and 40 days after that he ascended to Heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, enthroned with great power and glory!
I love the way that, in the early church, they looked after one another. This was especially represented by their care for the elderly, the widows and orphans among them. In our day of hearing so much ‘Bad News’, we can be a good neighbour to those around us, and we can pray for one another, and we can telephone one another, and encourage one another.
This is how we ‘sing the Lord’s song in a strange land’!
‘The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all’