Lent 5A Grateful Series
March 29, 2020
Lincoln Street UMC, Portland, Oregon
Hopefully, before you joined us here you were able to listen to and watch the video I sent with the choir singing It Is Well with My Soul. It’s a wonderful tribute to how choirs can continue to use their creativity and voices to lift people’s souls. If you didn’t get to it before, it’ll be just as good after worship too.
This hymn was originally written in 1876 by a Presbyterian lay person named Horatio Spafford. He wrote this after his four daughters died in a shipwreck, as he was on his way – on another boat - to Paris to meet his wife who had survived. And he penned this opening verse
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul
Perhaps there have been times this week when you have recognized that maybe it is not well with your soul. Maybe you have struggled with waves of anxiety or fear, anger or grief. Maybe it has just been a blanket of despair that has sat upon your heart – unbidden and unwanted.
For those times, I am sorry. And I wish for each of us, the ability to feel those emotions, notice them and then find a way to shrink them down so they fit on a shelf somewhere in the corner – not gone, but not ruling the day.
And from that place, I hope that you are finding ways to find equilibrium. Find a center. Hold onto a hope. Know a strength that does not originate from you.
To know that indeed, God is with us. knowing this in the morning light that comes each day. Knowing this in the breath we can breathe. Knowing this in the hand that holds ours. The phone conversations that lift our spirits. The projects that bring dimension, interest and creativity to our lives. The quiet at the end of the day.
I hope that somehow, somewhere, in your lives there is a thread of gratitude that is grounding you. Thin though it may feel at times. I hope that when your thread of gratitude is frayed that you find others to help weave and darn yourself back together.
So that in the end we can each find a way to sing, “Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,”how it is well with our souls. Because we are searching our way towards God and a practice of gratitude that holds us together and is ballast to our lives.
Friends, may it be well with each of our souls – not every minute, but throughout our lives. Amen.
This sermon was written by Elizabeth Winslea and delivered on March 29, 2020, via Zoom to the Lincoln Street United Methodist Church. It is published here with the permission of the author. Please link back to this post and credit the author if you reprint or use any portion of it.