September 7, 2011
This year, Sunday school opens with a psalm. The Seasons of the Spirit curriculum leads the children of Plymouth into a selection from Psalm 139:
Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.
This psalm reminds us of the presence of God. We have miles to go before Advent, but a reminder of the Immanuel, the God with us, is always welcome. It is an especially good way to begin the church school year. The knowledge of God’s presence grounds us and provides a foundation for how we live and move. In Practicing the Presence of God, the ancient Carmelite monk Brother Lawrence shares this insight, “The most excellent method of going to God is that of doing our common business without any view of pleasing people but purely for the love of God.” Helping the children of Plymouth grasp and experience the presence of a faithful, loving God is the work of every volunteer in the children and youth program, and in reality, it is the work of every church member. Each interaction we have, from the Sunday school classroom, to side conversations in the Lounge, to the pew in worship, presents another opportunity to practice God’s loving presence with one another from every generation.
Of course, it is not only the children who need to hold fast to the loving God present with us. The deep knowledge of the God who is near can be healing and restorative to all. This Sunday marks the tenth anniversary of the tragic events on September 11, 2001. When remembering searing moments such as this, it is common to reflect on the question of location. “Where were you when…?”
God has been present when we have cried the tears of the lost, when we have struggled to know where now to turn, and when we have raged against the pain and damage resulting from that dark morning.
The psalmist reminds us that God’s presence goes well beyond geography and gently touches all of our hurts, be they a decade or a day old. God is present as we sift through painful and confusing memories. The breath of God is soothes as we grapple to imagine what is next for our families in the blurry light of loved ones lost. The grace of God is surrounds us in our recovery as we strive to cultivate new life, new work, and new relationships.
It is the presence of God that gives us words to pray on this Sunday of old wounds and new beginnings, “God of compassion; hold us, heal us, guide us as we seek to live your dream of a peaceful and just tomorrow for all of your children.”
THE CHURCH BUILDING IS CLOSED
Plymouth Church UCC Worship is experienced on a Zoom Webinar platform, on our Plymouth YouTube Channel and Facebook pages each Sunday. Please join us for Worship, then for Coffee Hour ONLINE following on the separate Zoom meeting link.
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