[#pictureLent] April 4: REFUGE

By Rev. Rosemary “Rosie” Grattan
Pastor, First United Methodist Church
Sinton, Texas

First, read Psalm 118:5-9

I am a dreamer. Some people are “incurable romantics,” but I have to admit that I am a dreamer. One of the “dreams” I have for my congregation and the Church throughout the world is that we would truly learn to love one another as our Lord Jesus commanded: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13: 34-35, NIV).

A simple yet profound command of God is that we love one another. And for me, a fairly new, fresh-out-of-seminary pastor, born and nurtured in the church, it’s a very hopeful possibility. Otherwise, why would Jesus have commanded it, if it were not possible? And so, as I dream about the possibilities for the Church, I know I am called to get “online” with God and petition for His help. 

In today’s text, the Psalmist declares that God is our helper. We are reminded that we are to look to God for help and for refuge. The psalmist reminds us that humanity cannot do the Holy work of loving neighbor without God’s help.  Thus, the angel Gabriel exclaimed of God’s power upon delivering the good news to Mary, mother of Jesus: “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” When we are struggling, afraid, or defeated- God is our refuge- our place of shelter and our source of strength. We do not turn to God to hide, but instead to regain our strength and courage to step out again as we continue the work God calls us to do.  God provides protection and peace as we seek shelter and rest, preparing for the work ahead.

And so, I conclude, going forward with knowledge of the Psalmist’s experience, the help and protection of God is always available - through others sent in a time of need, and often as near as a whispered prayer.

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

1. In Psalm 118:5-9, the psalmist seems to boast of God as a source for refuge - a place of safety. Can you name one or more times when you turned to God for protection? Reflect on how God helped you “specialize in the impossible.” 
2. Where is God calling you to go now? What is God calling you do to? How might God’s offer of help and protection sustain you in this work?