Dear Church Family,
Our scripture for today comes from Psalm 103: 8-14:
“God does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”
Last week in worship we looked at Psalm 103 from the perspective of our role as stewards/caretakers of the future. Researching for a sermon is the same as any research: much of what you learn ends up on the cutting room floor. Researching for the sermon on Psalm 103 was no different. I came across one amazing story, though, that I wanted to share with you. It was written by Wallace Bubar who is a pastor in Des Moines, Iowa.
He shares this incident as a reflection on Psalm 103’s verses 8-14:
“In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a story on CNN featured a beleaguered group of refugees. There were six or eight of them, all young people working in the French Quarter. They were a scraggly looking bunch—bartenders, exotic dancers, tattoo artists, and the like.
For several days, they had been trying to escape the devastation and chaos in New Orleans, moving from one squalid shelter to another. The reporter from CNN discovered them trudging along the side of the interstate, trying to make their way by foot out of the city. They had no means of communication. They had no transportation. They were desperate.
The news story focused on one of the young women in the group. Her father was a pastor somewhere in the Midwest. Apparently they had had a falling out somewhere along the way. She had run off as a teenager, moved down the ‘the Big Easy,’ and wound up as a bartender in some seedy club in the French Quarter.
She looked how you might expect a bartender in a seedy club in the French Quarter to look. Anything that could be pierced was pierced. Anything that could not be pierced was tattooed. There she was, on the side of the highway with all of these desperate people who had just lost everything.
She asked if she might use the reporter’s cell phone to try to get in touch with someone, to let someone know that she and her friends were okay. The reporter obliged. So the young woman called her father, the pastor in the Midwest. They had not spoken in some time, but he answered the phone. ‘Daddy, I’m OK,’ she said. Then she burst out into tears, ‘I don’t know how we’re going to get out of here! I’m so scared!’
They exchanged just a few words before she hung up the phone. The reporter asked, ‘What did he say?’
With tears running down her cheeks, she replied, ‘He said he’s coming down right away in the church van to pick us up.’”
The songwriter of Psalm 103 sings that God is like a father who has compassion for his children. What an image he gives us to carry with us, no matter where we find ourselves. What a reminder of how deep and broad and high God’s love is for us.
Prayer: Lord God, almighty Father, I am humbled by your love. I am humbled by your compassion for your children. Give me grace to live out of the truth that you have removed my sin from me, as far as the east is from the west. Help me to carry your love, and not my sin, with me always. In your name I pray. Amen.
Christ’s Peace be with you all,