Sermons from First Christian Church

Mahtomedi, Minnesota

Don’t Dream It’s Over

Psalm 146 | Sixth Sunday after Pentecost | The Music of My Mind Sermon Series | July 5, 2015

During my senior year of college, I went on a spring break trip with my college church group to the northside of Chicago. We were there on a mission trip. A Southern Baptist congregation had created a vital ministry to the poor in this area of Chicago and we were there for a week to listen and take part in the various ministries.

It was quite a week and I believe it had a profound impact on my life. There are several stories that took place during my time there. I remember the conversation I had with an elderly woman who was homeless. She had come to the soup kitchen the church held. She was a kind and dear woman and you wondered why this poor woman had to suffer like this. The church also had several program geared towards the youth of the neighborhood. I can remember standing out on one the steps to the church where a young girl causually talked about the fact that her mother had kicked her out of the house earlier in the day. I can’t remember why she was kicked out, but I was shocked. What had this kid done that was so bad to be kicked out of the house? What kind of mother would do this?

As I said, those few days in Chicago had an impact on my life. I can pretty much say that I would be who I am now if not for that week in Chicago. I started to understand that God really did care for the poor and forgotten and that as a follower of Jesus, I was called to do so as well.

This is the last Sunday in our sermon series through the Psalms and it ends with on a happy note. Towards the end of Psalms, the passages start to take on a more bright tone. Psalm 146 is very much a “happy” song, one that is brimming with hope, talking about the goodness of God.

Psalm 146 is a psalm of praise. I’ve said this earlier, but I’ve always had a hard time understanding praise because it seemed like you were praising God just because. But this passage gives reasons as to why one would want to praise God. The psalmist believes we should praise God because God is trustworthy and brings hope “ Let my whole being praise the Lord! 2 I will praise the Lord with all my life; I will sing praises to my God as long as I live,” is how this psalm begins. As we read farther, we understand why this person can give praise to God.

The person whose help is the God of Jacob —
the person whose hope rests on the Lord their God —
is truly happy!
6 God: the maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
God: who is faithful forever,
7 who gives justice to people who are oppressed,
who gives bread to people who are starving!
The Lord: who frees prisoners.
8 The Lord: who makes the blind see.
The Lord: who straightens up those who are bent low.
The Lord: who loves the righteous.
9 The Lord: who protects immigrants,
who helps orphans and widows,
but who makes the way of the wicked twist and turn!

The writer can praise God because God is the one that gives justice to the oppressed and feeds the hungry. This is the God the frees the prisoners, makes the blind see, protects the immigrant and helps the orphan and the widow. This is the God that can help the down and out when it seems that there is no hope.

What is God like in your life? Do you trust God? Is God a bringer of hope?

In light of the recent ruling by the Supreme Court that made same-sex marriage the law of the land, there were a number of writings about the decision. One of those writings is one by Carey Neiuwhof,a Canadian evangelical pastor. I’ve followed his writings for years and he wrote a blog post a few days ago. Neiuwhof tends to have what I would call a “traditional” understanding of marriage, but he doesn’t have what I would call the traditional attitutde regarding same sex marriage. He writes that the church has not been a good witness to LGBT people by how it has acted. He had noticed all the writings in the first 72 hours of the ruling he said the social media reaction “has driven a deeper wedge between Christian leaders and the LGBT community Jesus loves .” He goes on to say that judgement is a terrible evangelism strategy. While Neiuwhof may not be “gay friendly” he did think it was important to share love, even with those you might disagree with, than judging them.

What this story tells me is that people can’t know of a God that cares for them if they don’t see it in the lives of God’s people, the church. The people in that north Chicago neighborhood, knew of a loving God because of that church. LGBT people can only know of the God that cares by the actions of God’s followers in the church. God entrusts the church to be God’s hands and feet, and if people can’t see that; if they can’t see that God cares for the widow and the orphan, then they will think God doesn’t care. They will not know God.

There are lot’s of people outside of the walls of this church that are living without hope. Who will be Jesus to them? Who will tell them that God is with them and will deliver them? Can we be that community that can be God to these people?

The final song to pair with a psalm is “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by the New Zealand-Australian group Crowded House. It was their biggest hit here in the States hitting number 2 in the spring of 1987. I loved this song for its melancholy sound and its words of hope. The writer of the song, band leader Neil Finn wrote this song on his brother’s piano and he describes that he was feeling lost at the time and the song was a way of telling himself not to give up.

The chorus goes:

Hey now, hey now
Don’t dream it’s over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
We know they won’t win

Don’t dream it’s over. If there is a way to describe what First Christian-St. Paul should be all about, it should be this. We are to share the good news of God in word and deed. We are to be God’s feet and hands, a living embodiment of hope. We are to tell the world that God’s dream is not over.

It was not uncommon at the churches I attended growing up for people to come forward and share what God is doing in their lives. They were called to testify. You would hear the story and it would always end on a happy note with the person praising God.

What those testimonies and what this psalm tell us is that praise can only come from acknowledging that God is at work in your life. Praise can only come when we don’t dream it’s over, when we know that God has not given up on us

Praise can only come by seeing where God has been present in our times of pain. Praise can only come when followers of Jesus become hope to those who have no hope. Praise comes to a homeless woman who gets a meal and some company at least for a while. Praise comes when teen is shown warmth and love, the love she should get from her parents, but for whatever reason isn’t. Praise comes when we see God active in our lives and when we allow God to use us to help others so that they can see God active in their lives.

Hey now, hey now
Don’t dream it’s over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
We know they won’t win

With God’s help, they won’t win. Thanks be to God. Amen.

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