Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Psalm 139 Sermon

This sermon was preached the weekend of January 14.  
Better posted late than never. ;)

January 14, 2018
Second Sunday after Epiphany
1 Samuel 3:1-10(11-20)
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
John 1:43-51

Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable and suitable in your sight, O God, our rock, our strength and our redeemer.  Amen. 

Listen to these words from Psalm 139, it is the assigned Psalm for today, and truth be told, it’s one of my favorites.  As you listen to these words, think about how the Psalmist is speaking to God about how God knows this person.  I invite you to close your eyes as you listen…and maybe even hear your own voice speaking to God as I read. 

Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.

Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.
For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
I try to count them—they are more than the sand; I come to the end—I am still with you.

In this Psalm, a Psalm of thanksgiving, you can hear how personal this interaction is with God.  The psalmist knows God and knows how well God knows him.  The psalmist addresses God directly. O Lord, you have searched me and known me…you know, you search, you hem me in.  This is deeply personal.  The depth of this, too, comes from the intimate relationship which God has with the psalmist. 

Seeing and knowing God, leads to relationship with God and the depth to which God knows us.  Seeing and knowing God invites us into a deep and intimate relationship with God. 
This is more than “he sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake.” 

This relationship, this knowing is being connected to us, knowing our innermost feelings, struggles and joys and remaining present with us through it all.  All because of God’s great and amazing love for each of us. 

And because of this amazing love, this intimate relationship, we are able to praise God. 

I praise you, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful; that I know that full well.

As we think about being fearfully and wonderfully made, it is important to know that fearfully in the Hebrew did not mean the idea of fear in a scary – run away, run away or let’s retaliate sort of meaning.  The word in Hebrew encompasses a larger meaning of awe, reverent respect and honor.   A better translation might be reverently. 

And wonderfully has the meaning of different, striking, remarkable – outside the power of human comprehension. 

So hear this, I praise you, because I am reverently and remarkably made. 

That is who each of you are.  That is who God created each of you to be. 
You are reverently and remarkably made…you are each beautiful and unique in your own way. 

This, my friends, my sisters and brothers, is how God knows us: intimately, deeply and compassionately as unique beings created in God’s image. 
And that impacts and shapes our relationship with God. 

When we are known intimately and deeply, we are invited into a relationship in an intimate way.  Because God fully knows us, we are free to be ourselves in the presence of God.  We are free to be our true selves in God’s presence.  We are free to shed the worries and concerns about what others may feel about us.  We are free to let go of others expectations and demands, and to embrace being who we have been created to be: fearfully and wonderfully created beings. 

God’s relationship with us began with our creation and continues through our relationship with Jesus.  God’s love for us is so great that God sent Jesus into our world in our own form to live, love, teach and serve, so that we may see God’s great love for us in the flesh.  And so we may see that God’s compassionate relationship does not end with death, but continues on in life everlasting. 

But there is something to be said about how God knows us in this psalm. 
The psalmist recognizes that when the knower is God, the vulnerability is worth it. 

Let me say that again, when the knower is God, the vulnerability is worth it. 
The psalmist resigns to God’s inescapable presence in his life and embraces it by conforming his own identity in light of how God sees him.  (Hannan)

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.

When we are aware of how God knows us and that God’s presence will never leave us, we have the opportunity to be our true selves and be open to entering a space of vulnerability. 

My friends, God is here with us and for us.  God desires our openness, our honesty and our vulnerability to truly be ourselves not only with God, but with ourselves and with others. 

When we are open and honest with ourselves, we live more fully into the beings God created us and calls us to be which makes an incredible impact in our community, our nation and our world. 

As we move into a week that celebrates the life, message and service of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. it is as important as ever for us to be open and honest with ourselves and others. 

In a nation of rich diversity, we are called to see and recognize our differences and how our uniqueness is a visible sign of God’s presence in others and ourselves. 

We are in a time in our country when it seems easier to act out of fear than out of love. 

When we act out of fear, we find ourselves living into the sin of prejudice, racism and hatred. 

When we act out of love, we live out of the relationship that God has with us and the relationship we are called to have with others.  We lives filled with compassion and action for our neighbors near and far. 

Living out of love may mean entering into a place or space of vulnerability, where we as individuals open ourselves up to others around us, where we share stories and experiences and listen to one another with open hearts. 

It may mean entering a space where we are truly able to see the presence of God in places or faces we least likely expect to see God. 

This relationship God has with us is a transformative one….and it will transform how we impact the world around us. 

May we have the eyes to see God’s presence in ourselves, in our unique beauty. 
May we have the eyes to those around us as fearfully and wonderfully made, just as we are. 
And may we live in this world relating to and with each other as God relates to us, in vulnerability, in compassion and in love. 

And may the peace, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen.  

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