Church programs for Monday, Jan. 22 will resume their normal schedule at all locations this evening.
Leawood’s Sunday night in-person worship has been moved to 4 pm for Sunday, February 11.
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”
And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
It’s A Wonderful Life is a Christmas classic. In it, George Bailey is a man hitting rock bottom, right in the midst of Christmas. A serious business problem (that could very well turn into a serious legal problem), an evil nemesis watching his every move, waiting for him to fail, a family and a whole town full of people depending on him, and the weight of dreams that haven’t been fulfilled, all come down on him all at once. The film has not showed any signs that George is a man of great faith, but as his life falls apart and he is standing on a bridge looking down at the dark water, he begins to pray-–to beg, really, for God to help.
Prayer of lament are the prayers we pray when everything falls apart and we realize that, above everything else, we need God. In those prayers, we are as open to God as we are ever going to be. We don’t have any reason to pretend that everything is all right. We can’t see our blessings (just as George can’t see how much his family and friends love him), only our failures. We are lost in the dark and we cry out to the source of all light to show us the way out. And sometimes, we have to wait. Angels appear throughout the Bible, but we can’t always expect a cinematically perfect apparition like Clarence Odbody in the film. Sometimes, we are so far into the dark that we don’t even have words to speak in our prayers.
In Romans 8:26, the apostle Paul reminds us that “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
God hears us, and knows us, even when we don’t have the words to express our sadness, or our fears, or our frustration.
Some of us hit rock bottom during the Christmas season. Family problems, financial stresses, deeply personal struggles that we’ve shared with no one, can all come to overwhelm us in the middle of the joy and celebration. God heard George Bailey. God hears us at our lowest times. We are not alone, and if we can rest in that fact, we can begin to see how wonderful our lives are.
Oh God who gave us life, be with us as we struggle, hear our heartfelt pleas, spoken or unspoken, and grant us your peace, and your wisdom. Help us to see your love and power all around us. Bring others to hold our hands and show us the way to the wonderful life you have for us. Amen.