The Basics of Service

The Basics of Service

Epiphany 2A
Pastor Mitch Coggin January 15, 2023 Epiphany

Psalm 40 begins: “I waited patiently for the Lord.”

Don’t you hate it when a scripture, a boss, a parent, or a teacher asks you to be patient? I know that being patient is difficult for me. Just be patient. Just wait a little longer. Time is of the essence…your time, that is.

But this sentence in the Psalm comes from someone who has been patient. “I waited patiently.” I endured. I held out and survived.

And, then the Psalmist says that God inclined, which means “paid attention to me or was leaning toward me” and heard my cry.

I waited patiently. I was in the right place at the right time. God was leaning my way. God was in the right place at the right time. God heard my cry.

Sometimes we get tired of waiting and go our own way. The other extreme is when we assume God is missing in action. We may feel that God stopped waiting. Neither of those extremes are helpful, neither of those are redemptive.

The Psalm goes on to say that God drew me from the desolate pit. He lifted me out of the miry bog. He set my feet on the rock. There is a progression that happens in this waiting patiently. God acted, God rescued. God moved me to a place of safety and security.

God put a new song in my mouth, that is a song of praise for what God has done with a refrain of hope for what God will do.

Are we singing a new song or are we singing the same old song of the desolate pit miry bog over and over?

The Psalmist song was praise to God. “I delight to do your will. I told the glad news of deliverance. I’ve not hidden your saving help within my heart. I’ve spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation. I’ve not conceiled your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.

If we listen to our language, our attitudes, to our thoughts, which song do you think we would be singing? You might ask someone that you trust and who will be honest with you, “What song do you hear me singing?” Is that the song that you want to sing?

We read 1st Corinthians 1:1-9 as our second text. The first six verses are Paul’s opening words to the church at Corinth. I think the pivotal verse, for me, is verse 7: “so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Notice the word wait. What we don’t know, when we read these verses, is that this was a church that was fighting about spiritual gifts and glorifying the gift of speaking in tongues. It was dividing the congregation. But Paul begins the letter affirming their spiritual gifts, “You are not lacking in any spiritual gifts.” In other words, you have everything you need.”

Paul goes on to remind them that God is faithful. It is God’s faithfulness that has called them into fellowship with Jesus Christ.

Paul expresses thanks because he is confident that the church that is now torn by division will ultimately be blameless—a unified and holy community that God has called them to be. Thus, the whole community lives in the middle of a narrative between what God has done and what God will do.

What do we do in our wait, flanked by a past where God has proven to be faithful and a hope for the future?

We wait in this in-between time. We know that God has brought us to this place.

The Psalmist prays to God, “I have not hidden your saving help within my heart, I have spoken of your faithfulness, and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness.”

And even after the Psalmist proudly makes this claim, his final prayer is,“Do not, O Lord, withhold your mercy from me; let your steadfast love and your faithfulness keep me safe forever.