The cover of the worship bulletin read, “We have our times for worship, for worship interprets all of our times.”
Isaiah, the prophet, must have felt overwhelmed after the last days and the death of King Uzziah. Isaiah’s faith was brought to its knees, as much as mine was upon learning of the death of President Roosevelt in 1945, who was at that time the only President of the United States that I had ever known.
To the prophet, Uzziah was a powerful symbol of God’s blessings to his people; under Uzziah’s inspiring leadership, the Southern Kingdom experienced peace, prosperity and expansion. When Uzziah’s change of character resulted in his acquiring leprosy, Isaiah’s hope for the future was left in grave doubt. During this time of crisis of faith, Isaiah went into the Temple to discover through worship a word from the Lord. He sought stability, comfort and direction at this time of traumatic upheaval in his personal life and the life of his nation.
There is a good chance that those of you reading this will attend a worship service this weekend and that you will be grieving some loss, such as the death of a loved one, termination of a job, some failure in school, being passed over for promotion, a medical problem or a game-winning chance you had for your team.
You will attend your faith’s service hoping to hear a word of hope such as “Someone greater than your ‘loss’ is present and this God of yours wants to say ‘Come unto me all you who feel burdened by life’s circumstances, and I will give you peace of mind concerning your loss.’ ”
In the midst of our trying to figure out why this loss happened, we need to be reminded and we need to hear during our worship time: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not upon your own understanding. In all your ways admit that God is still Lord, and that this God will provide a sure, strong way for you.”
There are those times when we come to worship and feel that our losses are the result of what we have done or neglected to do and that God has rejected us. We need to hear “Nothing we can do or neglect to do can separate us from God’s love.” Neither are we to allow our losses to separate us from God.
Therefore, during our times of worship may our faith be renewed and our hopes restored. May we find encouragement for the living of these days and the facing of this hour as we allow our worship time to so nourish us. Let us allow the fellowship of the congregation to “feather us” and thus ease whatever pain we are experiencing from loss.
The Rev. Gene Norris is a Presbyterian pastor in Augusta.