Monday, September 26, 2005

Yesterday's sermon

Sunday was busier that many of my days here. First was breakfast, then church (during which I played piano alongside the organist -- it was beautiful), then getting invited out to a member's house for lunch, then Wal-Mart, then supper with a co-worker, then a long theological talk with same co-worker.

But the sermon was strong and heartening. It was no watered-down drink for the easily offended.

The pastor at First Pres-Biloxi has been preaching through the Psalms, and he has not shrunk back from the imprecatory ones. (imprecatory: adj. used as a curse)

Yesterday, he preached on Psalm 129:

1 "Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth" -- let Israel now say --

2 "Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth, yet they have not prevailed against me.

3 The plowers plowed upon my back; they made long their furrows."

4 The LORD is righteous; he has cut the cords of the wicked.

5 May all who hate Zion be put to shame and turned backward!

6 Let them be like the grass on the housetops, which withers before it grows up,

7 with which the reaper does not fill his hand nor the binder of sheaves his arms,

8 nor do those who pass by say, "The blessing of the LORD be upon you! We bless you in the name of the LORD!"

Note what the psalmist says at the end. He prays that those who hate God not have blessing spoken upon them. This serves as a warning to those Christians who believe that everyone should receive a "God bless you!" It is obviously not the will of God that all of His enemies be blessed. Those who "hate Zion" must repent -- or face the holy justice of God. And we soft American Christians should not try to stand in God's way.

But the cornerstone of the psalm is verse 4. "The Lord is righteous. He has cut the cords of the wicked." Those who would oppress the Church will find their efforts wasted. They will find their efforts spiraling backward, and their growth withering in the clear light of day.

But "The Lord is righteous." And a portion of that righteousness is found in His protection of His people. Oppressions (and hurricanes) happen, but God will stand and break the backs of all who oppose His people.

This was a message of hope for the believer in tough times. God will rescue because He is righteous. Not because of what we've done for Him, but because His name is written on us, and He must defend His name.

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