Underdog

Glass Overflowing

A sermon preached at Calvary Presbyterian Church in San Francisco, CA

June 13, 2021

1st Samuel 15:34 to 16:13

Who do you cheer for in sports? Other than one’s hometown teams, obviously. When you fill out your bracket for the NCAA basketball tournament, are you more likely to pick number one seeds, or the 16 seeds who barely qualified for the tournament? I might pick the higher seed when I’m filling out my bracket, but when I start watching the games, I find myself cheering for the teams that shouldn’t be there, from the schools without huge sports budgets.

I love a good underdog story.

Neeru Paharia of Harvard Business School and colleagues noticed “the underdog effect” in business too.  They found that companies gain goodwill from consumers when companies present themselves as a group that has overcame disadvantages through sheer determination.

This effect is even stronger in cultures…

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Survival of the sensible

I’ve read and reread Psalm 91 these last few weeks. My eyes linger over the promises of protection. The Psalmist tells me I won’t fear: 

the terror of the night,
the arrow that flies by day,
the plague that stalks in darkness,
or the pestilence that ravages at noon.

He continues, reassuring the reader of all the things that will not reach them because the Lord is their refuge. 

But I do fear. I fear the pandemic circling our globe. I have felt  anxious  walking into shops  going about my everyday life, then I seem to have a reluctance to go to the shops I feel this last year has been an education for us all

 it has been a survival of the sensible, keep you distances, wear a mask, and sanities your hands, maybe ever remembering as we are taught from 2 Corinthians,

Cleanliness is next to Godliness… ( that phrase is actually not in the Bible it was first said By John Wesley in 1791) but can be seen as a metaphor of what we have promised, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

This time last year I feared and wonder what our communities will look like in six months, or in a year. So were through 2 lock downs and there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Aileen has kept me occupied in what was the formerly the manse jungle and we have managed to plant many plants, we now have areas of wildflowers attracting honey bees and also butterflies, The raised beds are next, the seedlings in the manse kitchen are truly in abundance. We have found communication with our families has been paramount, My son works in electronics and worked right through the lookdowns are the company he works with manufacture the electronics used in medical equipment. SO I have been curious of his wellbeing also keeping it touch with my parents, strangely my mother texts me to ask why I have not phoned her, it seems a tad ironic, but hey were communicating and that in it’s self is always good. So folks do you have someone that you have not communicated with In a while? Is there someone you have taken for granted and always expect that person to be there for you when your need is great? or when you think your world has come to a standstill, maybe it is you that needs a kickstart. like that old motor bike on its last lap and your squeezing every last bit of life out of it, expecting it to last forever nothing in this material world last forever, BUT GODS loves for his people lasts forever, It sustains us and fulfils our every expectation, GOD gave us Jesus Christ , you know that guy that shouldered the pain of the world for us all… He asks nothing more than you allow Him into your heart and his love will endure forever, and folks it is that simple, maybe communicating is our weal point, but his can be done where you away from others maybe out for a walk, taking in the sea air or rambling over the hills and experiencing Gods creation, unspoiled and untainted.

But I wish life was that easy for all people, sadly it’s not but hey we can dream a little. Our world is ever changing we now are living in a technological age, but yet as advanced as we are, there are still stumbling blocks thrown in our paths, and we have to learn to overcome those, and when the proverbial hits the fan at 100 miles an hour and despair sets in who do we call (And it’s not ghost busters), we can reach out to each other within our family, indeed even within this church community that we all belong to. Communicating with immediate friends or family is the normal thing to do have you ever considered reaching out to someone you don’t see much?, a friend who maybe has been house bound, shielding or just staying home like most of us as we live through this pandemic!! pick up the phone and say ‘Hello’ it a good starter,,,

For me Social media has its uses good for keeping in touch with family & friends and also our many members of the church family of with is ever growing globally. I recently chatted with my friends in Northern India, and their country is gripped as many have been by this pandemic, listening to all that many friends and family scattered throughout this world has made me feel thankful for all I have and all we receive not only as a Christian, but very grateful for a stable economy and a much-praised NHS

That deals with everyday grief over lost loved ones their personal grief feels unanswered and they feel cast out

 Others face unemployment or are sick themselves. God does not always protect His people from the pestilence and plague as the Psalmist says. I can barely read these verses without thinking, “But what if? what then?”

The Psalmist telling me that I “won’t fear” feels a bit like telling someone in the middle of a panic attack to “just calm down.” (Have those words ever actually helped anyone calm down?) hey get a grip of yersell,,,,

But what we read in the Psalms is God’s Word written by David the messenger of Gods . I believe it is true. So I sit with it and wait. And He slowly helps me see more. I’ve found this is always true with Scripture. There’s more to understand when you let it steep in your heart and reflect on it.

Only then do deeper message comes out. You discover the inner message as we ponder over the words. 

In my case, I missed the keyword, right there in the first verse. I rushed past the familiar words and, in doing so, missed the lens (The narrative line ) through which the Psalmist wants the reader to understand the following verses. 

He writes,  from the narrative of Psalm 91,

“The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty.” There it is – Almighty. Some translations may say, “Sovereign One.” In Hebrew my Hebrew is a bit rusty but it, it’s the divine name, “Shaddai.” It’s the name that emphasizes God’s utter sovereignty and power. 

One of the places we see “Shaddai” used the most is in the book of Job. If any book of the Bible gets to the heart of suffering, it’s Job. We see Job lose everything – his wealth, his children, his physical health, his reputation. His former friends blame him for his suffering, claiming the Almighty would never let such tragedy befall Job unless he had done something to deserve it. But when God speaks from the whirlwind, he sets the record straight. The Lord rebukes all of them. Chapters 38 through 41 are a relentless reminder that He alone is sovereign. 

The Almighty allowed Job to suffer. He did not cause his suffering but he did allow it (and he doesn’t tell Job why). But the Lord is also good and kind. In chapter 42, we see Job restored and blessed with even more than before.

When I read Psalm 91, I have to remember the lens the Psalmist sets up at the beginning. This is the Lord Almighty. He is in complete control. No pandemic, political leader, or economy lies outside his hand. And when suffering comes our way, we know he has allowed it for a greater purpose.

The Almighty is also goodness itself. Anything and everything good we experience in this life is only a reflection of Him. Because of those two things – He is sovereign and He is good – I am not afraid. When suffering comes our way, as Jesus promised it would, we don’t have to fear. He has not left us to chance. He holds us securely in His good and sovereign hands.

But I suspect there is one other key ingredient to find comfort in these verses. But theological truths can feel abstract, even cold. Unless you know Him. The hidden key is our relationship with Him. My fears disappear when I remember our shared history, in light of His sovereignty and goodness.  When I reflect on how He has walked me through dark valleys in the past, I can trust He will do so again. When I think of stories of friends who have seen His faithfulness, I know He will do the same for those I love. As I flip through the pages of Scripture, I see example after example of God caring for His people. He has an impeccable track record.

He may allow COVID-19 to touch our families, our church, and our communities. But only because His good and sovereign hand has allowed it. Because of that, we can trust Him. At the end of Psalm 91, the speaker changes to the Lord: 

Because he has his heart set on me,
I will deliver him;
I will protect him because he knows my name.
When he calls out to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble.
I will rescue him and give him honour.
I will satisfy him with a long life
And show him my salvation.

If you’ve walked with the Lord for a long time, reflect on times in the past when you’ve seen Him fulfill these promises. When have you seen Him deliver, protect, answer, and rescue you? 

Maybe this all sounds strange. Maybe the idea of God’s sovereignty makes God seem cold and distant. If so, ask Him to use this time which we are living and from this ask GOD to draw you closer, Ask GOD to reach out to you for God does. Set your heart on Him and watch how He cares for you. Each and everyday Amen.

(Bible commentary from Bible sources and Peaks 1962)

Let us reflect & Pray.

We come to you in prayer almighty father for you are my light, my salvation, and my strength in this dark world. Guide us and show us that there is light for all. As many are now coming out of isolation keep these people within your grasp.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Guide us and direct us along this path on our journey through faith.

As we all come together as One, and become united in our thoughts and prayers for all people here at home and throughout our world, for we are your disciples in this a modern age.

Let us pray, Almighty Father, I want to reflect and be thankful for the life I have, and through this be thankful to others and I want to ask you to reach out to all people,

As we are living through days of uncertainty and confusion I ask that our days darkened by this virus and all that grips our world please give us hope that there is light waiting for us all., even though I see nothing but darkness. We are ever thankful for all people that care for us for a medical staff throughout this world who support all people that suffer and the  people of the emergency services who keep us safe.


We think of those who are affected with this virus every day that they will prevail, Our lives seem in turmoil, or is it the uncertainty that makes us think this? I feel as many do that we are surrounded by stormy waters, and yet all I can think is that Jesus is my hope in all situations and by this he instils Faith in me and helps me to preserve my faith in him.

And when we go about our everyday lives we will see Christ in each other, and learn to treat all people with humility and respect this day and every day,


Let us now join together in the pray our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ taught us to say

:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever.
Amen.

As we reflect, Let us Pray.

Let us now join together in the prayer our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ taught us to say:


Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
forever.
Amen.

Let us come together as One in prayer.

60169177_3308332785858817_2903065148094676992_oAlthough we are living in isolation, let us come together as one and reflect on all that is going on in our lives, throughout this world as we strive to exist as our wold is gripped by an unseen terror

We come before you in our confusion of all that is going on throughout your creation, our world for you are my light and my salvation, my strength in this dark world. Guide us and show us that you are a light for all people.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall, I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Guide us and direct us along this path on our journey by hope and by faith.
As we all come together as One and become united in our thoughts and prayers for all people here at home and throughout our world, for we are your disciples in this a modern age.
We pray and keep in our minds all people affected by COVID-19, for all medical staff who work and care for our wellbeing, All personnel of the emergency services, Service personnel and those People involved in Ministry as they care for all in their communities throughout the world and those who shelter and feed us, I pray, Let us find spiritual nourishment in knowing you, Lord.

Loving and caring father God, open to us today the sea of Your mercy and water us from the springs of kindness. May we see radiance within fragility, draw strength and inspiration from the inner beauty of others, hear the silent call of the Divine in our hearts, and may the wonder of the stars be light and the sun by day be an equal inspiration to all.
Let us now join together in the prayer our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ taught us to say:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
forever.
Amen.

Let us Pray for all people.

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Hear me when I call to you my Lord be gracious to me and hear our prayers.
We come before you in our confusion of all that is going on throughout your creation, our world for you are my light and my salvation, my strength in this dark world. Guide us and show us that you are a light for all people
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall, I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Guide us and direct us along this path on our journey by hope and by faith.
As we all come together as One and become united in our thoughts and prayers for all people here at home and throughout our world, for we are your disciples in this a modern age.
We pray and keep in our minds all people affected by COVID-19, for all medical staff who work and care for our wellbeing, All personnel of the emergency services, Service personnel and those People involved in Ministry as they care for all in their communities throughout the world and those who shelter and feed us, I pray,

Loving and caring father God, as we come before you humbled yet in faith, in hope, seeking peace within our lives during this time of uncertainty and isolation send out your love to those all who are divided that they may be brought together as one, in peace and love.

we bring to this day our heart and our minds our burdens and brokenness, our self-image bruised and hurting, our fears, shame, doubts and anxieties, the raw materials we ask You to bless and change, that in our dark tunnels we may begin to see light and in our desert experiences we may find You.

Loving and caring father God, open to us today the sea of Your mercy and water us from the springs of kindness. May we see radiance within fragility, draw strength and inspiration from the inner beauty of others, hear the silent call of the Divine in our hearts, and may the wonder of the stars be a light and the sun by day be an equal inspiration to all.
Let us now join together in the prayer our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ taught us to say:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever.
Amen.

Faith& Hope, Let us pray.

pexels-photo-208315.jpeg

Let us pray and Reflect,
For all people affected by COVID-19, for all medical staff who work and care for our wellbeing, All personnel of the emergency services, those People involved in Ministry as they care for all in their communities throughout the world and those who shelter and feed us, I pray,
Loving and caring father God, as we come before you humbled yet in faith, in hope, seeking peace within our this time of uncertainty and isolation send out your love to those all who are divided that they may be brought together as one, in peace and love.

God of hope, stretch out your caring hand to those who have fallen from your grace, that the prince of peace may bring an eternal message to this battered and bruised world,
We seek direction in all we do as we strive to exist help all people in their confusion and hold those close to you and shelter us all from the darkness that has covered our world
Help those who live in fear of those who darken your creation save those people who suffer from this virus that grips our world and remember all whose lives are affected by it.
when we go about our everyday lives, we will see Christ in each other, and learn to treat all people with humility and respect this day and every day,
Let us now join together in the savior Jesus Christ taught us to say:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever.
Amen.

As i Reflect.

Almighty God, whose glory touches and transfigures the mind and the material, whose intimate, gentle Spirit embraces our vulnerability and fills our empty spaces with hope, may we know a deep calm that only You can give.

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Let us hold in prayer all people affect by COVID-19, for all medical staff who work and care for our wellbeing, All personnel of the emergency services, those People involved in Ministry as they care for all in their communities throughout the world, I pray.

We seek direction in all we do
Help those who
Live in fear of those who
Darken your creation
save those people who suffer from
This virus that grips our world.
And remember all whose lives are affected by it.

when we go about our everyday lives we will see Christ in each other, and learn to treat all people with humility and respect this day and every day,
Let us now join together in the pray our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ taught us to say:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever.
Amen.

Let us Pray.

As we come together as One, with a thoughtful and resolute awareness of the one true love – that, being, the presence of their Lord, and Christ. No greater and faithful friend can a person have.

Let all people of the world unite as we all come together in prayer and reflect.
Almighty God, whose glory touches and transfigures the mind and the material, whose intimate, gentle Spirit embraces our vulnerability and fills our empty spaces with hope, may we know the deep calm that only You can give.

Through the mystery of absence and presence, come, fill us with Your emptiness, Your eternal silence.
Let us hold in prayer al people affect by Covid-19, for all medical staff who work and care for our wellbeing, All personnel of the emergency services, those People involved in Ministry as they care for all in their communities throughout the world, I pray.

Hidden God, we bring to this sanctuary and place on this table, our burdens and brokenness, our self-image bruised and hurting, our fears, shame, doubts and anxieties, the raw materials we ask You to bless and change, that in our dark tunnels we may begin to see light and in our desert experiences we may find You.
Loving and caring father God, open to us today the sea of Your mercy and water us from the springs of kindness. May we see radiance within fragility, draw strength and inspiration from the inner beauty of others, hear the silent call of the Divine in our hearts, and may the wonder of the stars be a light, a source of hope, on life’s’ journey. this day and every day.
Amen