Today's Lectionary Text
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
Restore us, O God;
O Lord God of hosts,
Restore us, O God of hosts;
You brought a vine out of Egypt;
Turn again, O God of hosts;
Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
Through the years I have served the church, I have been profoundly blessed in each place I’ve served, but it hasn’t been until the last few years that I’ve become seriously concerned by some of what I’m seeing.
Presently, I serve in south-central Nebraska, serving the church I was called from as a layperson who’d attended here for two years. While it’s been 23 years since I lived in Holdrege, there is one quality I distinctly remember from when I lived here previously. I remember how incredibly rich the soil in Phelps County is, and I remember how it seemed there were pockets of water where rain and snowmelt used to make small ponds visible from area highways.
Sadly, in the last few months, I’ve witnessed no fewer than three significant wildfires and wind like I don’t ever remember seeing in Nebraska in my lifetime. These wildfires have destroyed grassland, fences, homes, and taken lives. And now many of the visible highway ponds are dried up.
The reading from Psalm 80 seems an appropriate fit for the lament I feel. For some, there is a hopeful desire for God to restore what has been lost – as though people are waiting on God to step in and save what’s left. I can’t help but wonder, however, if God doesn’t say back, “I have given you everything you need to reverse things, and I will continue to provide guidance, but just as caring for the poor and destitute is up to you, so is taking care of what I give you to sustain life; now, sustain life.”
Reflecting on those words, I am reminded how God instills hope in humanity hope for a reason: to remember that just as God is with us, it is possible for us to be with one another and all of creation because we aren’t as helpless as dried up ponds or wildfires might indicate. God empowers us and equips us to care for one another because God cares for us.
--Rev. Mark Crist
Holdredge First UMC
Prayer for Reflection
Please pray with me, Our hope is in you, God. Our hope is in you to restore humankind and creation by giving us the awareness of the opportunities you’ve placed in our lives to make that happen. Call it naïve, Lord, but give the assurance necessary to your children to know that your face shines upon us, and we will be saved. Amen.
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