At St. Paul's we use the 3 year lectionary. It is a great tool of the church to assist congregations in their times of worship. As I listened to the Introit Sunday (our field worker, Glen Emery served as liturgist for that part of the service) and then read the Introit at the Fountains in Troy on Sunday afternoon, I found myself reflecting on it's words.
"Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen upon me. But I call to God, and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan; and he hears my voice. He redeems my soul in safety from the battle I wage, for many are arrayed against me." (Lutheran Service Book)
Several thoughts, and I am sure that I will forget some of them that ran through my mind and some new ones will pop up! "Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you." How many times does Scripture tell us to do this very thing? To not only take our burdens to the Lord but to cast them upon Him. Don't try to hold onto your burdens by yourself. They are too great for you. They will weigh you down. They will cause your back to bend and will cause your spirits to sag. Cast them from you to the Lord. He will be the One to sustain you. "Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," our Lord says to us. Cast them upon Him.
"He will never permit the righteous to be moved." My first thought when I heard this, and the one that runs through my mind even as I read it now, is for those who are struggling in their lives. As I read it at the Fountains, I looked at the residents and thought, "How about them? Do He permit them to be moved?" I looked at their frailties and wondered. Then the Spirit reminded me of something important. This is not saying that they won't be frail. It isn't saying that we won't be ill. This isn't saying that we won't be frustrated by the weakness, sickness and even death of the body. It is saying, "He will never permit the righteous to be moved." This is the spiritual life of the person. Casting all your burdens on the Lord, including the physical, emotional and mental issues that you might have, you are acting in faith, trusting not in yourself or your ways, but trusting fully and completely in the Lord. In Him you are righteous and that is shown, not in how healthy you are or how emotionally sound you are. It is shown in the condition of your soul. Trusting in Him, relying on Him, casting all your burdens on Him, you know one important thing - He will sustain you, guide you and help you in your life. His righteousness is given to you (not because you have cast your burdens on Him but because He has already given you His righteousness in the waters of Baptism, in the power of the Word and in the elements of the Sacrament.
"My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fall upon me." How often have you been overwhelmed by the events of your life? How often has the reality and terror of death touched your life? What do you do at that moment? Where can you turn? Who is able to help you? "But I call to God, and the Lord will save me." Amen! What else can be said? The Lord will save me. The Lord will sustain me. The Lord will guide me through the valley of the shadow. He has already been there. He has walked where I am at this moment. He is my Good Shepherd, leading me through each day. I call to Him and He saves me. Oh the comfort and strength this gives in the face of the terrors of death! Oh the wonder that fills my heart as I think about what the Lord has done in His sinless life, righteous death and powerful resurrection. All too often we focus upon ourselves and our desires. This is taking us from ourselves back to the only place of refuge - the Lord.
I could say more but I feel I have written enough for the day. Go back and reread the Introit. Those are some powerful words. I am blown away by them. They seem to come from the depth of the soul. And they show where we receive strength and comfort from in our lives. Jesus, Jesus, only Jesus, can my heartfelt longings still." (TLH) How true! How wonderful! How comforting.