Normally Pause for Thought meets on a Friday morning, we are now able to go online.
You can view the video here:
You can listen to the audio recording by phoning 01252 978319, and a computer will play the audio recording automatically.
The text is here:
Welcome to Pause for Thought. In normal times we meet on a Friday morning in the Spire Church, Farnham, for now we meet online, and welcome everyone who cares to join us.
Today we’re reflecting on Psalm 116, and we’re going to listen to someone reading that for us now. Our reading is from the King James Bible, but feel free to pause and read it in whatever your preferred version is.
I love the Lord, because He has heard
My voice and my supplications.
Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.
The pains of death surrounded me,
And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me;
I found trouble and sorrow.
Then I called upon the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!”
Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
Yes, our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me.
Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
For You have delivered my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,
And my feet from falling.
I will walk before the Lord
In the land of the living.
I believed, therefore I spoke,
“I am greatly afflicted.”
I said in my haste,
“All men are liars.”
What shall I render to the Lord
For all His benefits toward me?
I will take up the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows to the Lord
Now in the presence of all His people.
Precious in the sight of the Lord
Is the death of His saints.
O Lord, truly I am Your servant;
I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant;
You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving,
And will call upon the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows to the Lord
Now in the presence of all His people,
In the courts of the Lord’s house,
In the midst of you, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!
There’s so much in that psalm that resonates with the current crisis. Whoever write it, we’ll call them the psalmist, reflects on being saved from the brink of death.
This prompted a couple of thoughts from me. The first was from verse 9, where the psalmist says:
‘I walk before the Lord in the land of the living’
In the UK at the moment we’re on lockdown and one of the few reasons that we’re allowed to leave our homes is to take exercise once a day. For many of us that exercise will take the form of a walk in our local area. Perhaps while you walk, this is an opportunity to pray silently as we walk for those who live or work in the buildings we pass, whether they’re homes, hospitals, churches, or empty restaurants and workplaces. We might have felt joyful in the spring sunshine, and pray thanksgiving for the moment we’re, in or good memories we’ve had in the past; we might look forward, lifting our hopes to God for the future of these places and the people that use them; or we might slow our pace, praying for God’s protection and comfort for those who might be fearful, suffering or grieving at this time. God knows the stories of the people behind the doors along our route and God is able to meet with them, even when we cannot.
The other verse that prompted my thinking was verse 15, where the psalmist says:
‘Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful ones.’
Several members of our church family have died in recent weeks, and our love and prayers are with all who have been bereaved, and so I invite you to pray with me:
at a time when many are being lost to us,
and when even the last goodbye may be stolen by the measures needed to keep others safe;
we thank you that every one of your children is precious in your sight,
seen by you and known by you,
from the first to the last of our days.
Comfort and strengthen those who mourn,
bring peace to those who are frightened,
and be with us all,
ever more. Amen.
And so, as we return to whatever else awaits, we go with blessing of God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Upon us, today, tonight, and forever. Amen.