Second Sunday of Lent

Psalm27stars

Psalm 27 has many parallels with my life experiences. Obviously, with God ever present, you manage to come out at the other end even stronger. Verses 1 through 3, “When evil people come to devour me,” – Well, I’m not sure they were doing that, but they certainly were on the attack. It was stressful where I was working at the time. I was concerned not so much for myself, but I was working at a major university, and I had a daughter attending there tuition-free. I didn’t want to compromise that, so I was in a dilemma. It was the best job I ever had, and the worst boss I ever had. Maybe you

have experienced those same conditions. Reflecting back on it, and how present the Lord was in working things out, it was still not a pleasant experience to have to live through, but I had the support of a Church I was attending at the time. They supplied some food and much prayer. I had been suspended from my job, of course without pay, which I found out subsequently was totally illegal. I had joined a service club on campus, and had made some contacts, not that I thought I would need them in this way. One of the persons worked out of the office of the Vice President of the University,

and I spoke to her about it. She said, “They can’t do that.” Well, they had done it. By the afternoon of that day, I had several weeks of back pay and a check in my hand. Things, at that point, took a better turn.

Verse 6 says, “Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me,” – It’s not that I will hold my head high in a haughty manner, that kind of thing, like “I gotcha, you guys.” I will hold my head high above my enemies indicating that these attacks will be ultimately futile. “At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the Lord with music.” Shouts of joy – I feel that, but singing and praising the Lord with music – let’s run that past Lynn to get her expert opinion . . . I try, but she can bring a little more realistic take on that.

Moving on through verses 7 to 10, “Hear me as I pray O Lord. Be merciful and answer me.” Obviously my prayers were answered. I was still feeling things in an emotional sense more than in a practical way; however, when you’re in that situation, it is difficult. “My heart has heard you say, come and talk with me,” and I did that in a conversational way. It was more along the lines of “Help me, Lord!”, not “O Thou who sitteth on the edge of the universe . . .”; “Don’t abandon me,” . . . and then IT happened.

One evening while sitting and reading, I became less aware of my surroundings and I was surrounded by light. There was no sound, totally silent, and through the light, almost as a cloud, a white robed arm was extending downward. I reached up and we grasped forearms. As we did so, I saw a trickle of blood descending on my own forearm, again in total silence. The implication was “Renny, I am always present with you.” The light gradually faded. Did I dream? Was it a vision? It matters little because I knew then that I was being held close.

The outcome of all this is, of course, “Teach me how to live O Lord. Lead me along the right path. My enemies are waiting for me.” Oh, yes. “Do not let me fall into their hands for they accuse me of things I’ve never done” and that was so true, so true. “They threatened me with violence.” They threatened me with the loss of my job, and that would have meant my daughter would have been in great distress, too. “Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living,” I never lost confidence, but it was extremely difficult to go through those times. The sense of his presence was always there, and it was just up to me to have faith.

“Wait patiently for the Lord.” – Not one of my finest virtues, but I am working on it. “Be brave and courageous.” There is a verse in Joshua that says “Be strong and courageous,” and that’s exactly what you have to be, but in the strength of the Lord. I was no where near strong or courageous enough, but you know in your heart that you have the Lord at your back. And then, “Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” I still have trouble after all this and knowing what he has done and will do for me. I am impatient, but I am a work in progress, and it’s step by step.

This was just a single event in my life in that job situation. Actually I wound up still working at the University, but in a better position. In contrast to the situation at my previous assignment, I was recognized for my contributions. I was transferred to a teaching hospital at an extension campus of the same University where I finished my working career.

Well, as believers, we know the Lord has plans. Life has worked out just wonderfully.

Subsequently other situations have arisen, but I’ve been able to overcome them. So, all in all, guess what? God really does have a plan for your life, and it’s best that we don’t interfere. Just wait for the leading, look for guidance, and it will come. Praise God for that.

– Elder, Renny Nelson

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Blog, Why?

Long_Room_Interior,_Trinity_College_Dublin,_Ireland_-_Diliff
The Long Room of the Old Library. Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

Years ago, my wife and I took a trip to Ireland. Before we went, I dove into the works of James Joyce, Bram Stoker and James McCourt – all wonderful storytellers of Irish dissent. By the time we landed in the country, I had already spent hours dreaming of its beauty.

We spent one of our days in Dublin at Trinity College. Trinity was founded in 1592 and is one of the seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland. The campus is most notably known for housing the Book of Kells, which is a work that displays the four Gospels with intricate calligraphy and illustrations. It was created in the 800’s by Columban monks in the British Isles. The attention to detail of the icons on the pages was astounding, with the images of each pages brilliantly telling a story.

We took a tour of the library, where the Book of Kells is kept. While most of the people in our group were paying careful attention to every inch of the Kells pages on display, I got lost in the Long Room (pictured above). Its smell was incredible. The echo of my feet on the hardwood floors and the thousands of books that were hundreds of years old forced my mind to wander. Who had walked these halls? How many hours of studying had taken place here? How many stories are in those books? 

Throughout history humans have built community through story. We pick up a book, watch a movie or listen to a friend tell us about it was like to grow up in a different part of the country. We’re drawn in by the illustration of a sermon or by a conversation we have in a living room – we connect by story.

Jesus mastered the art of storytelling. And before he taught through parables, poetry and prose were a mainstay in the life and worship of God’s people. The goal for this blog is that it would be a place where St. Peter’s can grow together. We will post devotionals and reflections; stories from our past; information and updates on current happenings; and hopes for our future. Some of the content will come from the pastor(s) and staff and some will come from you. Ultimately, my prayer is that this will be another place where we connect as a community.

– Pastor Dave