A Thriving Spiritual Community

Annisquam Village Church Logo

Village Church

820 Washington St.
Gloucester, MA

Annisquam Village Church Logo

Village Church

820 Washington St.
Gloucester, MA

A Thriving Spiritual Community

photo of AVC sanctuary
Sermon: Utter Confidence: A Reflection on Psalm 27

Utter Confidence: A Reflection on Psalm 27

January 22, 2023


“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

Whom shall I fear? Of whom shall I be afraid?

O God, have you read the news this morning? Do you have any idea what the world is like in 2023? What shouldn’t I be afraid of? 

I’ve got family and friends in California who could be washed away.  I’ve got a cousin in Florida whose roof was blown right off her house. There are guns in 46% of households in this country.  A few days ago, a four year old was found in a diaper with a loaded handgun in the hallway of his apartment building. Then, there was what just happened in California.

Of whom should I be afraid?

Seriously? I fear.  I fear for my children and my grandchildren.  I fear for myself. 

“The Lord is my light and my salvation. The Lord is the stronghold of my life.”

You say, You are my light.  My stronghold. Sometimes it’s hard to believe these words are true. 

I remember the first time I read this psalm.  I was in college.  It was my senior year.  And I felt like the ground underneath me was giving way. 

“If my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up.”

It was such a hard time. My father decided not to attend my college graduation.  My mother couldn’t come because she was so debilitated by Huntington’s Disease.  No one from my family was going to be present for this milestone in my life.

I felt bereft. Alone.

Hearing this, my friend, Mary Kay, said she would come.  She would be there with me and for me.

That was You, God, wasn’t it?

“One thing I asked of the Lord, that I will seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in God’s temple.’

That’s it.  That’s the key.  The one thing.  

I had felt so at home and increasingly confident as a college student.  But at graduation, it was all changing. I was venturing towards an unknown future across the country.I couldn’t see what was ahead for me. I felt terrified.

In that uncertain time, as I read and reread this psalm, you showed me what’s most important – to stay focused on dwelling with You. 

Now I understood: No matter where I am, I can make Your home my home; and my home, Your home. 

And if I do this, I can trust that the rest of my life will fall into place. 

I can make Your home my home; and my home, Your home. 

“For You will hide me in a shelter in the day of trouble; You will conceal me under the cover of your tent. You will set me high on a rock.”

Could it really be true? When I am in trouble, You will shelter me and keep me safe. Even bringing me into your presence?  Into your home, your tent.

When all else fails, You will lift me up.  

“Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in God’s tent sacrifices with shouts of joyI will sing and make melody to the Lord.”

I just can’t stand it when it seems like there are people against me, I get so upset.   I feel uncertain and insecure.  It’s almost impossible for me to understand why anyone would try to harm me.

I need to remember that people who attack are afraid, too. They seem to think that having power over others will satisfy them. But, not the way Your love can.  

I don’t need to fight back. You lift me up. I can find the blessings in the midst of the challenges. Now that is joy! That’s how good you are!

“Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me!”  

I haven’t always known that a relationship with You was possible.  I will probably never fully understand how You actually hear my pleas.  

But, I feel it. From the depths of my being, in my distress, you see me.  You know me.  You answer me.

“’Come,’ my heart says, ‘seek God’s face!’  Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

I do.  I seek your face.  I seek it when I look at my beloveds.  I seek it in the beauty of  creation.  I seek it in the distressing disguise of the poor and vulnerable. I seek it when I look at my own.  I seek you. 

“Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help. Do not cast me off, do not forsake me, O God of my salvation!”

As much as I trust you, sometimes I falter and forget.  And still, you are patient. You’ll listen to anything I say.  You’ll take my fear and my distress  and my anger and my disappointment  and my grief.  You’ll take all of it.  

I’m the one who can be impatient.  I don’t always understand why sometimes it takes so long for you to show me your grace – or for me to notice it.

“Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, and they are breathing out violence.”

My heart is set on you.  You keep showing me how to get through new challenges I could never have foreseen.

I could never have imagined that there would be people who say untrue things about me. Or  people who would organize against me.   

I struggle to understand that people who profess to love this country, violently betrayed it.  

I just don’t get it.   How can so many people believe lies?

‘I have utter confidence that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.’

Even with all that has happened in my life, even with all that is happening in our world,  I have utter confidence in You because I remember what You have done.  I see the extraordinary gift of life.  Of my life.  Of my loved ones’ lives.  Of life on this singular planet.  I see your hand and your heart in all of life.

When I look around… when I look into the eyes of those I love… when I take in the wonder of nature, I see you.  I see your goodness.  

No matter how difficult it can be, I am in awe of the miracle of life. 

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

You give us just enough light to see a few steps ahead… because you want us to trust in you.  You want us to develop a relationship with you.  

To love you. It’s all you’ve ever wanted.  

You are our light and salvation. You are the stronghold of all our lives.  

Thank you.  Thank you for this psalm reminding me.  I can wait for as long as it takes.  Because I can remember all that you have done, and I can see all that you are doing, and I know who You are – LOVE – I have utter confidence in your grace.  Amen.