Faith Matters: A personal psalm: ‘I got up’

  • Home of the C.S. Lewis Study Center at 199 Main St. The Community Bible Church is holding services here on Sundays at 11 a.m. Staff file photo

  • Pastor Bob Emberley of the Community Bible Church stands at the church’s lot at 24 Main St. in Northfield. Staff file photo/Paul Franz

Community Bible Church
Published: 10/18/2020 3:03:31 PM

(Each Saturday, a faith leader offers a personal perspective in this space. To become part of this series, email religion@recorder.com)

There is a small hole in the ground at the front of our church property at 24 Main St. in Northfield. I stepped into it last April and tripped while setting up a sign with the Easter message, “He is risen!” The irony of stumbling in front a sign with that message prompted me to reflect on some of the challenging circumstances that were weighing me down. I wrote the following to help process what was going on in my heart.

My poem follows the structure found in many of the Psalms. The writers of these lament Psalms begin with a description of their trouble; as the psalm progresses, they pour out their despair with honesty and heaviness. But in the end, they find their way back to the Lord. They conclude with a word of hope and a renewed resolution to trust God even from the midst of their struggle and pain.

If you feel down, I pray that my poem will encourage you to “look up” to the one who has conquered the grave. If you need help finding him, please reach out to me.

I fell down this afternoon

Setting up the church’s roadside sign

Black five-inch cap letters on a white marquee

My Easter sermon in three words

HE IS RISEN!

With exclamation mark so passersby can see I mean it

I stepped back into a hole

More of a low spot hidden in the grass

A sunken depression left by a past digger

Who needed a shovel full of dirt

To level the ground in some more important place

I was surprised that I did not bounce back to my feet

Embarrassed by my stumble and

Ready to show how sure-footed I’ve always been

But I’m older now

And things once easy have become hard

So I stayed down for a minute — and then one became two

Kneeling before my sermon text on the side of the road

I felt the wet grass soak through my jeans

My knees making indentations into the dark earth

And the weight of past failures and battles lost

Seemed to question the exclamation earlier secured:

“You brought new wine to old skins;

Words of grace to law burdened folk,

But they preferred to be thirsty.

STAY DOWN!”

“You gave a piece of yourself to a friend;

A gift of life for freedom and hope.

But that didn’t turn out the way you thought it should.

STAY DOWN!”

“You welcomed a son into your home;

Resolved to love the pain out of him,

But prison brought an end to that dream.

STAY DOWN!”

“You’ve spent ten years trying to make a difference

in this beautiful, broken town,

But not much has changed and your so tired now.

STAY DOWN!”

And I did stay down, my knees in the mud

But with mustard seed faith I looked up

To the sign and said:

“Father, in heaven, may your kingdom come;

Father, most holy, let your will be done.

Father, my Father, help me to know

That deeds done in love

Always will grow.”

And then,

“I GOT UP!”

About Community Bible Church

Our church is currently meeting at the C.S. Lewis Study Center at 199 Main St. in Northfield. It is the big blue Victorian-style home on the corner of Moody and Main streets. Our Sunday service is at 11 a.m. In addition to our socially-distanced spaced seating inside, we provide a live radio transmission of the service so those who would rather not enter the building can listen from their car.


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