Come and listen, all you who fear God
And I will tell you what the Almighty
Has done for me Psalm 66:16
THursday, May 1 is a day to praise God and do a dance of joy
28 yrs ago on May 1
my dad came home from Magee rehabilitation hospital
after being institutionalized in 3 different hospitals
for a total of 23 weeks…
or 5 1/2 months November 79 to May 1980
And my mom stayed at her parent’s house
To take the bus ride to the hospital everyday
And be at dad’s bedside as doctors and nurses cared for him
Elementary school, 70 miles south during the week
We were not orphaned during this time
Mom’s parents took care of us
Grandma and Pop-pop
speaks of God testing the religious community
I admit my dad’s paralysis has been trying
As a family, we have been through fire and water
The fire of infection racking his body
And the watery tears shed as we came to terms
With his physical limitations
knows something of facing trying times
the problems we face are widespread in our country
every week somewhere a family
Hears the diagnosis…cancer
Faces a life changing medical condition
Wonders how to pay the bills
Grieves the death of a friend
Aches with loneliness after losing a spouse
or faces problematic relationships with
Children or parents
For some these trying times
Can be viewed as
As a trap or snare that holds them captive
Like a horse that has been captured
And then trained
To wear a bit, bridle and saddle
The trying time is a heavy burden
Slowly wearing them down
Breaking your will
Forcing you to do something
To change direction and do things you’d rather avoid
Locking you in a tiny space
Isolating you from others
Limiting your ability to move
Making God seem super far way
As if god was unknown
in the dark, dank prison looking for God
hoping that God is nearby
because we recall the scriptures
“In him we live and move and have our being”
Our God is not unknown
Our God is revealed daily through actions
Like love and forgiveness in a community
Which is reflecting the love God the father
has shown in God the Son
we’ve made it through these trials
Because God has brought us
Out of the prison, snare or trap
To the wide open space
A place where we can look back
And acknowledge, yuck…that was a rough time
As well as look to the future and have hope
We have hope because of Christ’s promises
“Because I live, you will live also”
And his words preparing them for his death
“I will not leave you orphaned;
I am coming to you”
Jesus knows the challenges
we face in our lives
Jesus felt the tugs of temptation
And the pains of being human
Remind them that he will return
And to reassure them that he would give them
What they needed to have in order
To continue the ministry he started
A ministry of love and faithfulness
The trials and challenges
Inviting us to remember we worship a triune God
And how strong the ties
between God the Father and God the Son
especially how these bonds are discussed in John’s Gospel
We face in our lives
Require assistance to get through
Illness and injury
Arguments with family or friends
Addictions and divorce
Derek Redmond a young British runner,
one who had sky rocketed to fame
by shattering his country’s 400-meter record at age 19.
But then an Achilles tendon injury
forced him to withdraw from the 1988 Olympic Games
When the Summer Olympics arrived in
Derek Redmond was absolutely aching for a medal.
On the day of the 400-meter race,
65,000 fans streamed into the stadium,
anxious to witness one of sports’ most thrilling events.
High in the stands is Derek’s father, Jim,
a faithful witness to every one of his son’s world competitions.
through the pack to seize the lead.
Heading down the backstretch,
only 175 meters from the finish line,
Derek is a shoo-in to win this semifinal heat
and qualify for the Olympic finals.
But then Derek hears a pop.
It’s his right hamstring.
He pulls up lame, looking as if he has been shot.
His leg quivering,
Derek begins to hop on the other leg,
and then he slows down and falls to the track.
Medical personnel run toward him
as he sprawls on the ground, holding his right hamstring.
At the very same moment,
there is a stir at the top of the stands.
Jim Redmond, seeing his son in trouble,
begins to race down from the top row.
He has no right or credential or permission
to be on the track,
but all he can think about is getting to his son,
to help him up.
He is absolutely single-minded about this,
and isn’t going to be stopped by anyone.
of an Olympic medal is gone.
He is alone.
The other runners streak across the finish line,
He is orphaned, as it were,
a lonely figure on the track, friendless, parentless and alone.
and all he can think is, “I don’t want to take a DNF.”
A Did-Not-Finish was not even part of his vocabulary.
When the medical crew arrives with a stretcher,
Derek tells them, “No, there’s no way I’m getting on that stretcher.
I’m going to finish my race.”
And so he lifts himself to his feet,
ever so slowly and carefully,
and he starts hobbling down the track.
Suddenly, the crowd realizes that Derek
isn’t dropping out of the race.
He isn’t limping off the track in defeat,
but is actually continuing on one leg,
in a fiercely determined effort to make it to the finish line.
One painful step at a time,
each one a little slower and more agonizing than the one before,
Derek limps onward, and the crowd begins to cheer for him.
The fans rise to their feet and their cries grow louder and louder,
building into a thundering roar.
At that moment, Jim Redmond
reaches the bottom of the stands, vaults over the railing,
dodges a security guard, and runs out to his son
— with two security people running after him.
“That’s my son out there,”
— he yells back at his pursuers, “and I’m going to help him.”
about 120 meters from the finish line,
and wraps his arm around his waist.
“I’m here, son,” Jim says gently, hugging his boy.
“We’ll finish together.”
Together, arm in arm, father and son struggle
toward the finish line with 65,000 people cheering, clapping and crying.
Just a few steps from the end, with the crowd in an absolute frenzy,
Jim releases the grip he has on his son
so that Derek can cross the finish line by himself.
Derek faced a tough challenge that day in 1992
But he didn’t go through it alone
The fans in the stands and his father
Reached out to him, and helped him finish the race
And so when you’ve metaphorically felt your hamstring tear
Recall the psalms
And how many of them describe God’s saving actions
Today we hear that God is the one “keeping our feet from slipping” It is a phrase that I love
It is a phrase that I love
Because there are days
When it feels as if the rug
Has been yanked out from under our feet
And I love the idea of God
Placing our feet back underneath us
So we don’t land on our bumpters
But there are days when we do land
On our bumpters
Some days, the trial has gotten the better of us
We’ve made a poor decision
We uttered words we wish to take back
We feel despair and hope has left the building
And on these days…God the Son comes to us
Filled with guilt…we cry out Lord have mercy
Filled with grief…we cry out Lord save me
Before the words leave our lips
Christ is moving to us to bind up our wounds
This is what Jesus meant by promising
To send an advocate, a helper, and a comforter to be with us
Christ knew we needed help
for the challenges and trials we face
Christ knows we need someone
With us until the end of the race
Just as Derek needed his dad
To get close to the finish line
Blessed be God
Who has not rejected our prayers
Nor withheld divine steadfast love from us
Blessed be God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Who has seen us safely through
The trials of life and promises to bring us
To life everlasting.