What's up? Or as a variation: Eh dude, what's up?
You have probably heard this saying before, or something similar.
In English it would be called "What's up" or something similar. The name of the app "What's App" is probably based on this.
Originally, this expression comes from the language of youth, but as an older person it is difficult to judge how youthful it still is today. After all, idioms change all the time.
In the 80s, for example, it was considered youthful to wear a baseball cap backwards. So upside down means with the visor to the back, that might also need to be clarified in today's world.
Maybe that was a form of rebellion, that you wore the visor backwards. To me, the period in which the upturned baseball cap was considered a symbol of youthfulness seemed quite long, perhaps because it is simply too absurd. The umbrella is supposed to protect from the sun and that makes no sense at all when it's turned backwards.
But I don't want to make fun of the youth of that time, but today I want to take up the saying "What's up?".
What is going on in your life and mine, what is going on in our community?
The question is completely justified. And if you use "What's App", then maybe "What's up?" also comes to mind.
And since most of us are a bit older, the extended version would also fit: "Eh dude, what's up?"
I wanted to look at Psalm 127 with you today and see if I can get the hang of the introduction ;-)
If the Lord does not...
I read the first half of Psalm 127:1.2; NL
If the Lord does nothing, nothing works. That may sound rather platitudinous, but we have to say something like that here in the service, otherwise we Christians lose our raison d'être.
This psalm was a song that was sung on a pilgrimage, probably by old and young together. Unfortunately, the melody is no longer preserved.
And the song was written by Solomon and this was now someone who, by means of his intellect, his wisdom, his fortune and his power, could in principle implement everything he wanted, if it did not exactly violate the laws of nature.
This, by human standards, almost omnipotent Solomon writes a song saying that without God nothing is possible.
This is not at all about the builders stopping building or the guards being withdrawn. Nor is it about stopping the hard work.
This Psalm has the heading in the Luther translation:
Everything depends on God's blessing.
And that expresses it. It only works with God's blessing.
We have three points in this first half of the Psalm:
- Build a house
- Protect city
- working hard, worrying about food
What is going on in personal life?
The third point stands out a bit, because it says that those who love God get it in their sleep. Is the hard work here superfluous after all?
I think this is about worry. We find in many biblical passages, also in the New Testament, the hint that worry is not absolutely necessary, e.g. Philippians 4:6; NL
Similarly, in a passage in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:25-34; NL, Jesus Christ says:
So it is not the hard work that is superfluous but the worrying. We already care for our loved ones, of course, but we do not need to worry fundamentally about our existence, because God cares for those who love him.
I find this point rather easy to understand and very difficult to implement. We would like to have everything under control, but that is not possible. Therefore, we can only trust in God.
It is interesting that Solomon is mentioned here as an example of splendid clothes, but he wrote this Psalm 127, which ultimately says the same thing as this passage from the Sermon on the Mount.
I would like to say a few words about hard work. I have a bit of a hard time with the term. Sure, you can't be too shabby to work, but I enjoy my job (most of the time) and I usually enjoy going to work. I would wish that for everyone here.
But let's come back to the first two points.
What's going on in the community?
The first item is "building a house".
I would also see that as an image for our community.
In principle, we are all builders. Our congregation is a house that is always being built and rebuilt.
And each one of us has potential and abilities, and if we all bring them into the building of our community, then a lot should be possible, shouldn't it? Jo, we can do it?
But if the Lord does not build the house, then we work on it in vain.
With such verses, there is always the danger that they will be seen in a negative light. You can try as hard as you want, but if God doesn't want it, it's no use.
That is certainly not what is meant. God wants to build a church and he wants to involve us in it and let us participate. With God so much is possible, with God so much is possible and I am sure he also wants to move a lot with our community.
And in the end, the only way to do it is to ask God to build and involve us. Ultimately, this means prayer for church building.
This would be prayer on several levels. On the one hand, prayer is needed for the leadership circle to make strategic decisions for the congregation in listening to God.
Then prayer is needed for planned actions, for the summer festival, also for the town festival and for the town festival service, for the normal Sunday services. Here we also pray that the planners and participants of the respective action recognise how God wants to bring about this work and how he wants to involve us with it.
This also applies to our congregation in general and to all other events and groups: Youth, women's breakfast, women's circle, house groups, etc.
I find this point the most difficult to understand of the three in the Psalm.
Is everything that does not bring visible success not from God?
Do you have to wait for a very clear sign before you start? Or a clear sign that you should stop doing something?
I also know all the images like "Only a moving car can be steered", or when one door closes, others open, etc.
As long as everything goes well, is well attended, etc., one is inclined to see "success" as confirmation from God. And what do you do when everything is not so well attended?
What blocks God's work?
Too little prayer?
Too much worry? The passage from the Sermon on the Mount that we read earlier says:
Make the kingdom of God your main concern, live in God's righteousness and he will give you all that you need.
Do worries block us?
Or too little knowledge of the Bible?
Or is it the search for the recipe for success?
All together? Do we simply need patience?
Perhaps these questions are also wrong?
Perhaps we need to ask more positive questions? How do we recognise God's will and work? Where does God want to continue with church building?
I don't really have an answer today, and I believe that this sentence, "Unless the Lord builds the house, the labour of the builders is in vain. will occupy me for a long time, beyond the sermon.
The second point, "If the Lord does not protect the city, it is in vain to surround it with guards." I find easier to understand.
The city, I think, is again to be seen as an image for the congregation. In the past, the congregation was seen as a shelter in the sense that one's social contacts were mainly in the congregation and protection was provided by the teaching of the leaders and the pastor. This is a bit at odds with being light and salt, and it doesn't really fit today, because the positive and negative messages of the world come directly to every person in every household via the media. That's how it is.
Of course, good teaching should also be imparted in church services, house groups, etc., which offers a certain protection, but if the individual does not rely on God and seeks protection there, then all this is of no use.
Let us look at the second part of Psalm 127; 3-5; NL
Children are a blessing, I can confirm that.
But you can also apply these verses to the congregation.
The new generation of congregations is also a blessing.
If you have children of your own, you know that sometimes the relationship with your offspring can grate because you have different ideas about various things.
That's how it can be in the community. But still, we should be happy about our new generation.
The last verse in the Psalm stands for the loyalty of the offspring to the family, that is, to the congregation. The difficult question of the future of the offspring in the congregation is contained here.
On the one hand, the gates were the city's border to the outside, i.e. the place that had to be kept from the enemies. On the other hand, the gates were the places where legal disputes were conducted. Here, the enemies were faced for the protection of the family.
Let us pray that our new generation will also become the new generation of the church and that new children of faith will grow up.
There is still a lot that can be done and everything depends on God's blessing.
I come to the conclusion:
- Eh dude, what's up? When you use What's App, remember "What's up" and "What's up". With God goes much, then on God's blessing all is up.
- What's up in your personal life? Worry about nothing, but pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him. For to his the Lord gives it in his sleep. Sounds strange to us hard-working Germans, but it's true.
- If the Lord does not build the house, then the builders work on it in vain. We have a lot of potential and abilities, but without God nothing works. What blocks God's work? Or: How can we recognise where God wants to continue building? Take this question with you and move it.
- Let us pray for God's protection, for us personally and for our church family.
- And let us see the new generation as a blessing and pray for even more new generation.
- Everything depends on God's blessing.