Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sun. Sept. 21, 2014 (Jim Neudorf)

Jim Neudorf invited us to respond interactively throughout his sermon, and since no personally identifiable information was revealed, the recording is posted online in its entirety. The pessimistic passage in Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 described a bleak reality, prompting comments about its sense of fatalism, resignation, despair, and hopelessness. Like the Greek myth of Sisyphus, our past employment or business efforts may feel futile: an echo of the curse of Eden -- sweat and toil, dust to dust (Genesis 3:19). However, Psalm 90 starts out with a sense of hope by recognizing that God is our dwelling place throughout all generations. Walter Brueggemann's The Message of the Psalms categories them into 3 types: orientation, disorientation and new orientation. Psalm 8 is an example of an orientation psalm (Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth). In a disorientation psalm, an uncensored complaint shows how honest our discourse can be with God in prayer. In the classic book, Managing Transitions, William Bridges describes how there is no shortcut from recognizing the ending, working through the neutral zone, and re-orienting to the new beginning. In The Gifts of Imperfection, BrenĂ© Brown's says, "We cannot selectively numb emotions; when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions."

Psalm 90 is a prayer to bring the spiritual into our everyday activities and give them meaning. Whether we are spinning clay pots, writing scholarly papers, or constructing buildings, we can find joy in ordinary work. Even painful experiences can be made meaningful by sharing them for others to learn from. If we reflect, and focus on our relationships, we may recognize the enduring legacies that others have left to us, whether they intended to or not. The congregation responsively read aloud the concluding verse 17, praying collectively to establish the work of our hands. [KH]

Listen to the sermon audio MP3 recording from Sunday, September 21st, 2014 using your browser's preferred media player.

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