God is our refuge and strength,Psalm 46:1-3, NRSV
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult. Selah
We were singing “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” by Martin Luther Sunday morning when I looked across the front of the sanctuary and saw the window pictured above. Too bad I hadn’t seen it earlier – I would have pointed it out while preaching! Did you know Luther based the hymn on Psalm 46?
I quoted Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen more than once in the sermon. Here’s my favorite quote:
“Taking refuge does not mean hiding from life. It means finding a place of strength, the capacity to live the life we have been given with greater courage and sometimes even with gratitude.”Rachel Naomi Remen, M D., My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging, p.165.
Four or five years ago I lead a series of one-day retreats centered on themes from the Psalms. The first focused on God as a refuge/fortress/dwelling place/shelter and used the last line of Psalm 2:13 as the starting point: “Happy are all who take refuge in the Lord.”
Before the end of the day, I invited participants to reflect on questions that moved from being sheltered by God to being agents who join in God’s effort to provide shelter for others. Here are the questions as preserved in my notes:
- Where have you found a refuge in the midst of life’s storms?
- Who has modeled God’s loving care in your life?
- How or when have you provided shelter for others?
- Who in your local community is in need of shelter today? How might you respond?
- What organizations or agencies provide refuge in places around the world? How might you join their efforts?
You who live in the shelter of the Most High,Psalm 91:1-2, NRSV
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
my God, in whom I trust.”