Resources for the 4th Sunday of Lent
Prayer for Faithfulness Amid Hardship
by St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)
Give us, O Lord, a steadfast heart, which no unworthy affection may drag
downwards; give us an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out; give us an
upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Bestow upon us also, O Lord our
God, understanding to know you, diligence to seek you, wisdom to find you and a
faithfulness that may finally embrace you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Let the Redeemed of the Lord say so!
based on Psalm 107
grew up in small town, mid-western America at
a time when churches still held Sunday evening services. We would let our hair down a bit
on Sunday nights and be less rigid in our liturgy. In fact, the only liturgy we had was an
oral liturgy. Nothing was written down-we had an idea of the basic flow of the service,
but at times we had to just kind of wing it.
I can still recall what happened when we got to "testimony" time. The worship
leader would ask, "Does anyone have a testimony for the Lord?" You could hear
the crickets praising God. "Lets not all stand up at once, folks," he
would say to relieve some of the tension. "God done anything good in your life this
past week? Tell the rest of us." There would be an awkward silence for several more
moments before someone would finally bail God out. (We didnt want to entertain the
possibility that God had not been active in our lives during the past week and might have
instead been off for some R and R on St. Thomas instead of in Fairmont, Minnesota.)
"I want to thank God for providing for our unexpected bills," an older lady
would begin. The testimony might sound like this: "An extra bill came in the mail
this past week," shed say, "and I just didnt have the money to pay
for it. I didnt know what to do. So I just said, Lord, youre going to
have provide; thats all there is to it. But wouldnt you know, the very
next day a neighbor gave me money that I had lent her a year ago-the exact amount to pay
this unexpected bill. God is faithful."
The rest of us would affirm this womans testimony with loud
Amens and wed
launch right into an upbeat version of, Great is thy Faithfulness. With each verse
wed sing with more feeling, actually beginning to believe what we were singing. Such
testimonies and singing inspired us all and would invariably trigger someone elses
memory so that most of us would end up giving a "testimony for the Lord."
I know times have changed. Our services sometimes seem to me to be more scripted, more
controlled. Corporate testimonies have replaced "testimonies for the Lord" which
can be risky and spontaneous. So in most congregations testimonies have been cut from
worship or reserved for small group intimacy. Still I miss them among the community of
Psalm 107 reminds us of the importance of putting testimonies
back into the life of the church....Subscribers:
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