December 10

It’s Monday! Here we are! Happy 22nd birthday to my “baby” bro Colin!!

Today’s scripture: Psalm 126 The Message (MSG)

A Pilgrim Song

126 1-3 It seemed like a dream, too good to be true,
when God returned Zion’s exiles.
We laughed, we sang,
we couldn’t believe our good fortune.
We were the talk of the nations—
“God was wonderful to them!”
God was wonderful to us;
we are one happy people.

4-6 And now, God, do it again—
bring rains to our drought-stricken lives
So those who planted their crops in despair
will shout hurrahs at the harvest,
So those who went off with heavy hearts

    will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing. 

I love this Psalm. I love it because of the imagery and the fact that restoration and rejoicing are so linked.  This Psalm is also part of a series of Psalms referred to as the “Song of Ascents.” Scholars believe that the Song of Ascents were created by many different authors but found together as resources for the pilgrim to travel to Jerusalem. This Psalm usually comes up during Advent to represent that we are also pilgrims on a journey during this time.  We yearn for restoration and movement towards the holy site. In the first stanza, the people rejoice in not being in exile any longer just as we move out of exile into restoration. And the second stanza pray for renewed restoration…new ways we dream and move and find ourselves in God.
Wow, powerful stuff.  I have a couple of thoughts on all of this. First of all, yesterday was a powerful day at McMinnville Cooperative Ministries and it came out of our mission to “restore all of creation to God’s loving embrace.”  We had an All Church meeting.  I was in charge of presenting the conversation on a new structure…moving from committees to a board structure.  I expected we would have some conversation and then vote on this.  We have been talking about this shift for over a year.  We have thoughtfully dealt with revisions and tried to put some things into practice and still have work to do on it but we were ready to move forward.  We voted and with a vote that was 58 for and 3 abstaining we voted in a new structure.  The conversation has been revolving around how we can free up people for ministry and to go out into the world to restore.  Then Mark was to lead a presentation about our older building. I fully expected we would hear the presentation and have to reconvene to vote about what to do with it.  The presentation included putting in insulation and new windows and sealing air ducts and dealing with our heating system in a couple of rooms. I expected that all to pass.  And then, in the presentation, was a piece that included solar panels.  I thought to myself, “well, that would be dreamy but I bet the church takes that piece off of the proposal and votes for the other stuff if anything.” The conversation revolved around what kind of statement we want to make to the community and how it is our call to restore creation.  I was amazed. I was proud.  At one point, I was a little teary to hear this congregation really take our mission to heart and say, “we care about this earth and this is important.”  Just when I thought we would move on and give people more time to marinate someone made a motion to vote for the proposal (the whole thing) and then someone seconded and because of this vote, we had to hand out a written ballot.  I was flabbergasted to see the numbers….47 for, 6 against and 3 abstentions.  What? Did we just vote on that and it passed by that many??? wow!
I walked away in amazement…what a witness on this journey!  Perhaps when we really devote ourselves to restoration, that actually plays its way out in the world.  And when it happens, it will create more work but work that God is working on with us. That is heart language on this journey, this pilgrimage.
The other thought I have floating around in my head is all about this idea of being a pilgrim.  If you know my latest obsessions, you know that I am slightly obsessed with the Camino de Santiago or the pilgrimage in Spain that celebrates St. James.  In fact, I am reading another Camino book during this season. There is something in me that calls to be a pilgrim some day and to walk hundreds and hundreds of kilometers to find out what that means.  There is something in me that calls out to have a journey and to wrestle, and to restore a piece of myself, and to find rhythm in walking mile and after mile and meeting interesting people on the way and somehow getting closer to God through it all.  To be a pilgrim takes all of that into consideration. (I am sure I will blog more about this at some point…don’t worry).
 And maybe a little piece of that calls to you as well this morning.  What is yearning to journey? Where are you called to fulfill restoration and find joy in it?  What path will you walk and will you believe it when it actually happens? Will you be ready to live that call out?
Prayer:  Creator God, you have walked alongside us and we ask that you do so now in our journey this season.  Create in us a spirit of the pilgrim, rejoicing, traveling, moving with you, and being delighted when restoration happens.  We pray for those areas in our life that desperately yearn for new days of restoration and lift up those who walk alongside us.  Amen.

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