22–28 March 2015.
Psalm 78:1–39 (click to read).
One of the most important things we do in the church is to share the stories of our faith with each another. In these stories, we share our experiences with God, the way that God has acted in our lives, the way God has touched and changed our lives. These testimonies are vital because they are the stories that carry our faith as a community. These are the stories that pass faith on to others. In these stories, we come to know who God is. For these reasons, the ancient believers rarely passed down books of doctrine. Instead, they passed down stories of their experiences with God. God is the one who saved them from slavery in Egypt, the one who led them through the desert, and the one we see so perfectly in the life of Jesus.
In Psalm 78, the writer shares these important stories again with a new generation, reminding young people how God acted in the old days, how he cared for the people and protected them. But instead of just being happy stories about God’s faithfulness, these are also stories about the faithlessness of the people: how the ancestors failed to live up to God’s love and leadership. What a strange situation – where the people who passed faith on to us are also the same people who failed at faith! That means that these stories can be painful ones for us to hear, but they are also vital for us. They teach us that we are all human, we are all imperfect, we are all limited by sin. By remembering the ways that others failed, we also encourage ourselves not to make the same mistakes today.
Because our God is a living God, God continues to act in our lives today. This means we have new experiences and new stories of God to share with others. But we also have new opportunities to fail God and to forget God. During this time of Lent, let those past failures by the people of God remind us to be strong in our faith. But let them also remind us of God’s limitless forgiveness and love for us, even when we do fail.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis