Psalm 131—Quiet our souls

First, as on normal Sundays, here is the (DIY) All-Age part of the service from John.

If the links don’t work then here are The Stopwatch and the song God’s Not Dead.

Now, over to Ian…

A reflection by Rev Ian Tomkins—Sunday March 29th 2020

Hello. It’s good to be sharing these thoughts with you. How are you? This is such a difficult and challenging time, and we are missing seeing each other. But I have been so encouraged this week by the messages received, conversations I have had and things I have heard from others—about love and care for each other as we discover new and different ways of being Christ’s Church.

In a letter to Church of England clergy last week, our archbishop’s said,

“Being a part of the Church of England is going to look very different in the days ahead. Our life is going to be less characterised by attendance at church on Sunday, and more characterised by the prayer and service we offer each day”…

“Are we truly a church for all, or just the church for ourselves? We urge you sisters and brothers to become a different sort of church in these coming months: hopeful and rooted in the offering of prayer and praise and overflowing in service to the world.”

Prayer, Praise and loving service to others—a vision of Christ’s Church for this age, the Body of Christ—you, me and millions of individuals praying for each other and the world, praising God in our lives of faith, and creatively and generously reaching out to our families, friends and neighbours in new and different ways.

This vision of Christ’s church is not one which is over dependant on top-down leadership and feeding, but one in which all parts of the Body of Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, reach out in prayer, praise and loving service to the world, and our families and communities are transformed by this tender and generous love.

Our ‘Psalm for Lent’ this week is Psalm 131Open Link in New Window. It has just three verses.

In verse 1, David tells us that he is rejecting pride, personal ambition and self-importance.

In verse 2, David tells us where he is at now in his life—that he ‘stilled and quietened his soul.’ He illustrates this by comparing himself to a weaned child with its mother. The child no longer frets and cries out for what it used to need and depend on all the time, but is now content, just simply to be with his mother. Infantile dependency is no more.

Finally in verse 3, having described the place of contentment where he has come to in his life, David encourages others to know this contentment themselves, by finding it in the same place he did. ‘Put your hope in the Lord both now and forever more.’

David was a man just like us, whose life was a mix of goodness and brokenness. There were times when he soared for the Lord, and other times when he sank as low as you could go. There by the grace of God go all of us.

But David finally found true contentment. This is the testimony of a sinner who knows he is truly forgiven. He is humbled by the mercy of God in his life.

Because he has peace with God, David has peace in his life.

Eugene Peterson said, “Christian faith is not a neurotic dependency, but a childlike trust. We do not have a God who forever indulges our whims but a God whom we trust with our destinies.”… This means no longer resting in ourselves, but in God.

This is a beautiful picture of the Christian believer who has learned simply to desire God more than just desiring things from God.

Remember that lovely Noel Richards song?

To be in your presence
To sit at your feet
When your love surrounds me
And makes me complete

This is my desire, O Lord
This is my desire
This is my desire, O Lord
This is my desire

To rest in your presence
Not rushing away
To cherish each moment
Here I would stay
This is my desire, O Lord
This is my desire…

Charles Spurgeon wrote of Psalm 131Open Link in New Window that it was “One of the shortest psalms to read, but one of the longest to learn.” Why is that? Well, if I look at my on life, I understand how we do often live as though it is for others to fulfil what we think we need. Living like this can mean discontent and anxiety. Life is a journey. But this journey needn’t take forever.

At this particular moment in our lives, in our nation and the world’s history, humanly there is much that could mean we feel more needy and anxious than ever.

But by God’s grace, there is so much more which leads to a ‘stilled and quietened soul’.

Jesus said, ‘Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’

Matthew 11.28-29Open Link in New Window

When we do this, we can truly be a church – a Body of Christians, whose lives are ‘hopeful and rooted in the offering of prayer and praise and overflowing in service to the world.

This is contentment. Amen.

There is a podcast of the Sunday Sermon based on this reflection.

There is a video Morning Worship Conducted by Revd Ian Tomkins.

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