Serendipity struck again. Working from Psalm 127 last week for my weekly column, my sister, a lay minister, also used the text to deliver a sermon.
Of course, each message aligned but also veered in different directions. God's word is rich for those who spend time there. Remember, "deep calls unto deep" (Psalm 42:7).
Please note, last week I stole her title for my column like the time I stole her bracelet to give to my girlfriend. But that's another story for another column.
Here are excerpts from her sermon:
"'Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain,' Psalm 127 begins, establishing the necessity of God's blessing in everything we do. But what is this house of which the Psalmist speaks? Is it a literal house? The temple that Solomon built? A family unit? A community? Scholars suggest it could be any of these, but allow me to lean toward its meaning as the temple ... what, for us today, is the church. We need to take time to occasionally evaluate what it means to be in church, to go to church, to belong to a church, to be a church family or to have a church home. It's appropriate to examine our personal motivations for worship and to confess our sin as God reveals it.
"Without God's blessing, building a house -- a church family or church home -- is simply a fruitless activity. God's blessing must precede any human effort to gather and sustain the church. Otherwise, any effort reflects an immature understanding of what it means to worship, to follow and to obey God.
"A most vital part of the church family is children. Under God's blessing, it matters what we teach them. It matters how we show them what love and mercy look like, how we exhibit obedience and spiritual disciplines, how we help them learn to trust God and to have faith. The most important thing we can leave to them is the knowledge of how to become a child of God.
"Psalm 127 compares children to arrows in the hand of a warrior. Like any sport, I'm reasonably certain you can't use just any old arrow and expect to be successful. Arrows must be carefully shaped and formed, guided with skill and strength, maintained, aimed and given direction -- they will not find direction on their own. The arrow is an extension of the warrior's strength and accomplishment.
"So it is with our children. They too must be shaped and formed, guided with skill, maintained, aimed and given direction. They are an extension of our spiritual understanding and dependence on God's blessing. Without it, we will fail them."
"Theologian Charles Spurgeon wrote, 'Of every church and every system of religious thought, this is equally true: unless the Lord is in it, and is honored by it, the whole structure must sooner or later fall in hopeless ruin. Much can be done by man; he can both labor and watch; but without the Lord he has accomplished nothing ...'"
For those who have ears ...