How many times have we said that to ourselves? In good times and bad we reflect on how we got to where we are in life. Psalm 124 is a worship song that called the Israelites to worship in Jerusalem after having survived slavery and the wilderness. Even after arriving in the Promised Land they were still threatened continually.
The leader sings the first line, “If the Lord had not been on our side,” and then invites the people to sing, “Let Israel say.…”
When we are alone it is easy to view our struggles and trials with a paralyzing “woe is me” frame of heart and soul and mind. It is clear throughout scripture that the people of God will experience trouble and strife, that they will be swept away and ensnared. We cannot climb out of our pit on our own BUT… we are not alone. Following traumatic life events – suicide, death of a spouse, loss of a job, the feared diagnosis, the painful wandering of children or disappearance of a relationship – we must make our way to worship. This is not the easiest step to take, but when we are in the deep we cannot recite the promises on our own. The people of God in worship can help bring the promises to our remembrance.
This Psalm is meant for celebration and remembrance. The people celebrate God’s mighty and enduring presence and protection, but they also sing about the terrors of life so they will not forget God’s protection and presence. In contemporary worship we sometimes use the call and response, “God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.” Our problem is that we do not always remember or believe it. The people of God need to gather together and remind each other that always and finally, “Our help is in the Lord.” Your presence in worship is not simply about what you will receive from it.
Worship is a time to remind each other, “What if the Lord had not been there when… But Praise the Lord, our God is the one who gives us a way of escape and rescues us.”
When we gather as a Region of ABC churches we are not the White Mountains or the Green Mountains; we are not the Seacoast or the ski trails; we are not the North Country or the Northeast Kingdom or the urban center. We are God’s people; not defined by where we come from but by who has rescued us and called us. “The Maker of Heaven and Earth” has called us and placed us where we are to continue the work of Jesus Christ. Our gathering is at least in part so that we will not forget that which is most important.
- Vivan Martindale
First Baptist Church, Nashua and their pastor Maggie Lewis
First Spanish American Baptist Church, Nashua and their pastor Isabel Rivera
ABC/VNH Nominating Committee