[#pictureLent] March 8: SHELTER

By Rev. Ray Altman
Leander United Methodist Church  
Leander, TX

First, read Psalm 32:6-7 

Several years ago some friends and I were hiking in the desert mountains of central Mexico when thunderclouds were spotted drifting our way.  We were at least two hours from town.

We made our way back quickly but the edge of the storm caught us as we descended the final hill. Cold drops stung my skin and thunderclaps signaled danger above. We ran down the steep bank at the edge of our control and reached shelter just as rain and hail began pounding the streets. 

We have all run from dangers that are around and within us. Psalm 32 reminds us that some storms are of our own making. Sometimes, the things that threaten our wellbeing are rooted in our choices to depart from God's way, choices that lead to chaos and destruction, choices that drive us to seek shelter. 

The psalmist pleads for us to find refuge from sin’s torments in God. This is not a moralistic or punitive conversation about sin and our salvation from it. Rather, God is celebrated as one who protects us from sin without hesitation or second thought. Sin is the dangerous storm; God is the safe harbor.    

This is the good news of God’s work in Christ: God is waiting to give us shelter from those powers that are against us. God offers us sanctuary, even from the storms of our own making. God sees us worth this protection in Christ.  God rejoices with “songs of deliverance” because we are safe (vs. 7).   

And because God is such a ready shelter, we can be a people who enter a world filled with storms. We can risk exposure, vulnerability, and danger, for God is our hiding place. As Christ's body we join God by sheltering the ones in our world who are caught in storms: the refugee and foreigner, the widow and orphan.   
 
The heart of God is revealed in Jesus when he says “how often have I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings” (Matthew 23:19, NIV)

Prayer: Oh God, you are our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Give us the courage to run to you in faith and to follow you into your sometimes dangerous work in the world. Amen.

Discussion/Reflection Questions: 

1. What storms of your own making are you caught in today? 
2. What can you do to run safely to God’s shelter? 
3. With God as your shelter, what risk are you being called to take?