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"Psalm 8's Invitation"

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

But we also witness to the fact that waiting is part of faithfulness. We worship a God who acts in God’s own time. Not on our timetable. So sometimes that means waiting. It means trusting.

Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI -- the Carina Nebula. Captured in infrared light by NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope, this image reveals for the first time previously invisible areas of star birth.
Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI -- the Carina Nebula. Captured in infrared light by NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope, this image reveals for the first time previously invisible areas of star birth.

Psalm 8

June 4, 2023

Dr. Todd R. Wright Worship in the Park is a great idea! For a worshipping community that gathers in a beautiful space, with bricks, and Blenko glass, and soaring wooden beams … its delightful to enjoy God’s cathedral! For a congregation that that enjoys the creative, whether that be in the form of art, or music, or drama … it is a chance to be creative with the Creator! For a church that was planted on a specific corner in a particular neighborhood, so we could worship, and study, and serve, side by side with our neighbors … it is good to be reminded of our place in the wider world! And what better scripture to accompany us on this day than Psalm 8!

 

You will have a chance to reflect further on this wonderful psalm at your tables in just a few minutes, but before you do, let me share three thoughts: First, at the heart of this psalm is a question: “What are human beings that you are mindful of them?” the psalmist asks YHWH. Maybe you have asked that same question on a dark night when the skies glittered with stars. Or when you we looking out at row on row of mountains marching toward the horizon. Or when you stood with your toes in the sand as the waves of a vast ocean crashed in. A strikingly similar question is asked in psalm 144 but there the answer is … “Humans are like a breath; as for their days, each one passes away like a shadow.” OT professor William Brown writes, “Psalm 144 stresses humanity’s vulnerability and transience, in contrast to Psalm 8 , which highlights humanity’s glory and power. In fact, the answer in Psalm 144 … would have been expected in Psalm 8: human insignificance before the vastness of the cosmos.”[2] But our psalm takes a radically different turn. It talks about God making us only a little lower than God! So not a puff of breath and then gone, but the ones who have been given dominion over all creation! That’s the second thing I want to react to – dominion! That’s not a word we use much, but it has shaped humanity’s relationship to creation! Dominion is a royal word. It’s the power that kings and queens are given over all they survey! Some royals have gotten puffed up and abused that power, but Brown points us to another psalm as a corrective. “Psalm 72 states that a king’s primary responsibility is to take care of the impoverished, defend the cause of the needy, and crush the oppressor.”[3] Thus our role should be to take care of creation’s most vulnerable, to defend what has been placed in our care, to oppose those who exploit and destroy and waste. Finally, I want to draw your attention to how Psalm 8 begins and ends. The psalmist uses the same phrase: “O Lord, our sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” You can see the truth of that statement all around you. But it is not enough to see. We are also called to join in speaking that truth; to praise God; and to cause others to join us! I love that in this psalm even babes and infants have a role to play. That tells me that you do not have to be poetic or even particularly articulate to proclaim God’s praise – a sense of wonder at God’s creation and an appropriate humbleness are enough to give us voice! So we are blessed to have Kaia and Crosley (and others) in our midst today! Not just because they are cute. (They are.) But according to the psalmist they also serve to remind us of God’s saving presence in our midst! We need that reminder, lest we think we survive on our on strength!

 

So today we step away from a place that we built with our own hands, and maintain with our giving, and fill with life though our work and enter into the world of the psalmist – a place where we feel small among the sun and stars, a place where we are not the rulers but do have responsibilities, a place where God is just as easily praised by church folk like us as by non-religious folks, the old and the young! What do you see here? What do you feel here? What to you experience in common with others here? What could you share about your experience here?

 

I hope it begins and ends with “O Lord, our sovereign, how majestic is your name!” Amen

[1] Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI -- the Carina Nebula. Captured in infrared light by NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope, this image reveals for the first time previously invisible areas of star birth. [2] From “Psalm 8 The Ecology of ‘Dominion’ in the Context of God’s Majesty” by William P Brown [3] Ibid
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