Gathered for Good

This Sunday’s sermon at Holston View UMC in Weber City, Va., will be “Babbling in Babel,” rooted in Genesis 11:1-9. If you want to view the sermon but cannot be present, the entire worship service will be available through Holston View UMC’s web page.

Today’s preparatory text: Hebrews 10:19-25


By Chuck Griffin

A couple of ancient truths have gotten a lot of modern confirmation recently.

We are for the most part social creatures, and when we’re separated, we suffer. We can gather for very wrong reasons, however, and suffering can ensue anyway.

Most gatherings have such a clear purpose that we create specific words to designate their types: party, play date, potluck, rally and worship are just a few examples from a very long list.

But even those specific types of gatherings can result in either good or evil. What really matters is whether the right person is invited to the event.

If I say “wild dancing,” you might imagine a party that’s gotten out of control. But what if I tell you I’m talking about King David as he brings the Ark of the Covenant home to Jerusalem?

Or I could talk about “committed worship,” and that might sound good to you, until I clarify I’m talking about a gathering of people who practice human sacrifice.

The Creator, Redeemer and Comforter of the world wants to be in the midst of our lives and included in our gatherings. When we make God the honored guest at any kind of social event, opening our hearts and our group to the influence of the Holy Spirit, good naturally flows from the moment.

Think about gatherings you know of that went well and gatherings that collapsed in a heap of ignominy. Which ones were rooted in Christ’s teachings about love of God and love of neighbor, and which ones were not?

Dear Lord, it can be such a struggle to be mindful of your presence in every moment, inviting you to influence all we say and do in community. Help us live as if we are already in the eternal day when we will be bathed in your holy light. Amen.

The One Most Offended

This Sunday’s sermon will be a reflection on deep brokenness and the power of God’s grace, considering what we find in both 2 Samuel 11:1-15 and John 6:1-14. If you want to watch the sermon but cannot attend Holston View United Methodist Church, the message will be available online.

Today’s text: Psalm 51:4

Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight.


By Chuck Griffin

Psalm 51 shows us the three R’s we should hope to experience after sinning: remorse, repentance and restoration. In its introductory header, we are told the psalm reflects what King David felt and cried out after he came to his senses and realized the terrible stench he had become in the nostrils of God.

The fourth verse is particularly enlightening to me. It reminds me that the effects of sin go far beyond human perception. For us, the problem of sin ultimately lies in what God experiences when his creation, made in love, turns against the maker.

When we think of sin, it’s not unusual to consider its effects in human terms, thinking of the people damaged by sin. Certainly, in the 2 Samuel stories tied to this psalm, we’re quick to consider how Uriah lost his wife and his life because of David’s lust and murderous efforts to conceal his shame. It’s also possible to argue that Bathsheba was a victim of power rape.

The losses they experienced certainly should be remembered. When Jesus summarized the law, he placed love of neighbor right up there with love of God for a reason—created as images of God, people matter.

Psalm 51:4 calls us to remember the source of holiness, however. God defines what is holy simply by existing, and as the only all-powerful, uncreated, eternal being, God has the right to immediately destroy that which he finds obnoxious.

How remarkable that we continue to exist! We should be astonished that remorse, repentance and restoration are available to us.

Yes, God truly is love—love is the only divine emotion that could hold the holy hand in abeyance.

Lord, we thank you for your patient love, expressed so clearly when Jesus Christ went to the cross to expunge our sins. Continue to grow us in grace so that sin comes to an end and we live fully in your eternal presence. Amen.

What We Desire

By Chuck Griffin
LifeTalk Editor

Psalm 63:1-8

A psalm of David, regarding a time 
when David was in the wilderness of Judah.

O God, you are my God;
    I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
    my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
    where there is no water.
I have seen you in your sanctuary
    and gazed upon your power and glory.
Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
    how I praise you!
I will praise you as long as I live,
    lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
    I will praise you with songs of joy.

I lie awake thinking of you,
    meditating on you through the night.
Because you are my helper,
    I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
    your strong right hand holds me securely.

The word “desire” may evoke a powerful feeling in you, one likely tied to some important event in your life.

Maybe someone close to you had a strong desire for alcohol, ruining relationships. Or maybe it’s a positive association, your lifelong desire for someone else making you a better person.

It is easy to see that desire is neither good nor bad in and of itself. What matters is what we desire.

The psalmist here demonstrates a deep desire for God. From the psalm’s introductory heading, we know it is by or about David, the valiant shepherd and eventual king of Israel.

Despite the passion for God expressed here, we also know David had moments where he could forget about God and make terrible decisions, his baser desires overwhelming what should have been, on a rational level, easy choices.

David has been famous for thousands of years, but he’s also much like us, isn’t he? Where we choose to aim our desire can turn our lives in one direction or another very quickly. 

There is another danger where desire is concerned, too. If we suffer from a general lack of desire, we may find ourselves twirling aimlessly, like a sailboat with no wind.

It is good to be passionate in holy ways. Many Christians remember that initial passion for God and God’s word after coming to a belief in Jesus Christ. If desire has faded, it can be restored by a deliberate effort to spend time with God in his word and in prayer.

Desire propels us. We just need to be sure we are moving toward God.

Lord, where our desire is wrongly aimed, pull us back toward you, and where the flame for you has died down, fan it to new heights. Amen.