Holdin’ Firm on a Shaky Monday Mornin’

Ahh, tomorrow: Monday morning… at the bus stop. Or at least one day this week, depending on your schedule. Those yellow cheese busses will come into view. Some will just walk with their parents to the front door of that big (strange) building. Soon, if not this week, kids we once tucked into bed will tuck books-they-had-to-pay-for under their arm. They’ll seem very far away, even if nearby. College days will start. We’ll wonder, “Will I ever see him/her again? Will I recognize him/her when I do?” (Take heart… when they do come home… hungry, dirty laundried, or broke… they’ll look startlingly familiar!) For some of us now, these are grandchild things. For others, they’re something we look forward to when our little ones get just a little bigger. For others, none of these kids are ours. But we know somehow, all of them are our kids, too. Oh, what a day lies just ahead!

But truth be told, it’s not an altogether easy day. It’s a shaky one! Not all our kids, not all us kids (and all of us are kids, you know, just different sizes) will speak-up about this. But it’s true. Such days are shaky, and so are we. It’s a shaky world out there. And we are shaken to go near it. (Much less enter into it.) Can’t you hear the voices? Don’t some belong to those who belong to you? No matter your age, could any of these voices be your own?

I don’t wanna go. Why does summer have to end?

All I really wanna do is play today.

Will anybody like me?

Who will be my friends this year?

Will it be too hard for me?

Is that my stomach that I hear? My knees don’t feel right.

Will they be safe when I send them? Will I be?

Who will teach them things I don’t believe in or approve of?

Will I be alert enough, wise enough, strong enough to correct them?

Now what? I’m the bus driver, crossing guard, custodian,

teacher, guidance counselor, principal.

Friends, one way of lookin’ at today, Sunday, is with a sharp eye on tomorrow. We’re lookin’ for help. A way of holdin’ firm on a shaky Monday mornin’. And for us all, every Monday’s shaky!

Most of us know the words to the old, old song. “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.” It’s a Monday mornin’ hymn for a shaky, shaky world. “‘T ain't no coincidence that Monday mornings bring more heart attacks than any other time of the week.” Any country doctor could tell you that. I just thank God today. And I invite you to do the same. I thank God that centuries ago, when Once-King-David was still a country boy tendin’ his sheep, he began to sing a song even Jesus-the-Good-Shepherd-of-us-all would some to sing, too. “GOD IS OUR REFUGE AND STRENGTH, a very present help in trouble.” We have a Master of Monday Disasters. (Remember how the old song ends, “Nobody knows…but Jesus!”) David sings it like this. “We will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.” We’ve got a firm foundation! Oh, you and I know, OK. Earthquakes in China. Faye won’t leave Florida. The Chesapeake’s been polluted nearly outta oysters. Eco-awful abounds. Still, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Two political conventions in 14 days will regale us with the demons and disasters of our present time. And they will assure us, it will only get worse if we elect the other guys, fools and scoundrels, all. Then there’s Georgia, Russia, Iraq, Iran and any place on earth that ends with Stan. (Curdi, Paki, Afghani and the rest.) Call in the UN or G-8! That’s what the world will say. But not us. Not those of us who believe in God our refuge and strength. O, I tell you, when I was a kid on the walk to school that first day. I didn’t need any G-8. (‘Never heard of it.) Oh no, all I had, wanted or needed was the G-3!

My mamma, my big sister, and me. “And the force of our collective witness seemed enough to keep the neighborhood terrorists at bay.” [II Warnock, CI] I had to get bigger, and those women in my life lots smaller, before I learned that all I really needed was the G1…God my Refuge, God my Rock, God my Redeemer! You and I, we tell our kids that…on their way out the door every Monday through Friday mornin’… and they’ll know. They’re gonna be alright. Us too. Have the fire drills. Lord, forgive us, practice the lock-downs. Tell the chillun’ not to talk to strangers, beware the big kids, remember you belong to me! But when their world’s ashakin’, tell ‘em this. God is their refuge…!

Did you hear what old David sang? And I tell ya for sure, Jesus knew the song, too. He knew it walking beside the Galilee. ‘Knew it walkin’ on the Galilee. He knew it when he told his own in a shaky boat, “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.” Jesus knew the song when he told Peter, “It’s OK, get outta the boat. You can walk on the waters with me, however troubled they may be. Come.” Jesus knew the song walking up the hill. The last one, dragging his own cross with him all the way. Here’s the song:

“The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has wrought

desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end

of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear,

he burns the chariots with fire!

‘Be still, and know that I am God….’”

David wasn’t singin’ doctrine or speculation, philosophy or theology. Jesus either. This was living witness to a living God who has intervened in the life of the singer and the whole community of faith. Not once, but over and over. David and his greats, great grandson Jesus have walked with God. ‘Seen his hand. ‘Touched his heart. No wonder Jesus could turn around and tell anyone willing to follow. “Consider the lilies, how they grow… yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed so fine….” And again, “Not a sparrow falls that God does not know. Never fear. You are more valuable than sparrows!”

Is our experience, personal and shared, any less compelling or worthy of the same sweet song? “The Lord of hosts is with us…. come, behold the works of the Lord. Hear him when he says, ‘Be still, and know (don’t guess, wonder, speculate or debate, know) that I am God!” Seriously-ill folks are hangin’ in there! (E.g.s from those present) Families that have known heart-ache-within still love one another anyway. Who thought they could get through the court case… but did? Who thought they could make it when the rent or the mortgage came due, but the job was gone, or not enough. But you’re alright… maybe even with this very church’s help. Who would have guessed? Not less than 7 families have homes restored by the work campers we sent out to serve. Then there’s the lady at our door, 28, a mom, alcohol consumed, who came for forgiveness, but got that and more. Therapy in the hospital and hope in her heart. And what of all the stories you’ve been tellin’ here in prayer-time, and all the families in our church who’ve sent loved ones into war zones who’ve come home…thank God! O, if we’ve got a sin, God’s got a Savior to forgive it. A sorrow: God’s got a Son to comfort it. A regret: God’s got a Redeemer to rework it. An anger: God’s got an Answer to speak to it, even from the cross. “Let the whole earth shake, and all around us start to quake, and evil try to seal the deal in stone, The Lord of hosts, Our God is with us, braved the Wood (X), will not forget us, stills our souls, and holds us close…we’re not alone!” That’s our song! Our song.

*** *** ***

I love it that when the world around us seems so shaky, we have a firm foundation. The Lord of hosts…expressed in his Son, Jesus Christ. I love it that we have Something and Someone to steady and strengthen our kids-and-ourselves in the face of Monday trembles and all-week troubles. I understand to my core, old Peter outta that boat on a troubled sea. And I understand his yearning to walk like Jesus. And walk to him. And I understand old Peter’s roving eye, lookin’ away from Jesus, calculating the power in the waves and the howl of the wind. And I can tell you from personal experience, embarrassingly repeated, that whenever we do that, we too start to sink! And I am struck by the words of Grandpa David, well known to Jesus. Words of a very different water-story indeed. “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God will help her right early.” I am moved by Dr. Raphael Warnock’s word that we who walk with God are that river! We start out like little Wills Creek way up in Cumberland by the Fruit Bowl (our kids love), frail and windy, parched or flooded in this life. And when we ask it, “How do you keep on?” it answers, “Don’t look at me, look at the river.” That would be the parched or flooded, rapids or placid Potomac. Ask it, “How do you keep on?” And the answer will be, “Don’t ask me, ask the Bay.” That would be the Chesapeake. Ask it, “Whence your strength to go on, with all that pollutes and pounds on you?” It answers, “Don’t ask me, ask the Ocean.” Ask the Atlantic, “How do you do it, what with the wind and the pull of the moon on your tides and the fishers who snatch up your friends, the fish of the sea?” And the Ocean will answer, “Don’t ask me, ask the One Great God of all my currents and all my furies and all my banks in which to rest.” Roars the Ocean, “That’s the One who is my Foundation.” We can do no better! Know this, teach the children, and we can all hold firm, even on a shaky Monday morning. Even the Christ of the Galilee would say, “Amen.”

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