Monday Matters (February 12, 2024)


Psalm 50:1-6

The Lord, the God of gods, has spoken;
he has called the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, perfect in its beauty,
God reveals himself in glory.
Our God will come and will not keep silence;
before him there is a consuming flame,
and round about him a raging storm.
He calls the heavens and the earth
from above to witness the judgment of his people.
“Gather before me my loyal followers,
those who have made a covenant with me
and sealed it with sacrifice.”
Let the heavens declare the rightness of his cause;
for God himself is judge.

This is God speaking

The psalm assigned for worship yesterday (see above) begins with the rather amazing claim that the Lord, the God of gods, has spoken. What does that voice sound like? How does God speak to us? Have you had an experience where you heard the voice of God? If you admit that you have, might that make some folks consider you in need of psychiatric care?

A central tenet of our faith is that God reaches out to us way before we reach out to God. That kind of gracious revelatory action may well be our great hope. The mystery of the Holy One, the mystery of God’s transcendence only underscores the limits of our imagination. Said another way, the only way we’ll come to get inklings of God’s reality is if God makes that possible.

It can be risky business, claiming to hear God speaking to us. People often make that kind of claim to further their own agenda, to own God’s voice. Anne Lamott says that you can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do. People have justified all kinds of messy behavior by claiming God spoke to them.

So think this morning about the ways God speaks, maybe more specifically about the ways God has spoken to you.

Yesterday’s psalm tells us that the heavens declare the rightness of God’s cause. We read in Psalm 19 (vv.1-4): The heavens are telling the glory of God and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world. All of which is to say that God speaks to us through the marvel of creation.

Yesterday’s psalm also says that God reveals himself out of Zion, which I take to mean that God is revealed through the faith community. It’s been my experience that folks of faith have at times revealed to me something of God’s presence, sometimes through a word spoken, sometimes through an act of compassion.

In church, we hear a reading from scripture punctuated by the phrase: The word of the Lord. That suggests that our engagement with scripture is a way God speaks to us. I confess that I sometimes hear a rough passage and am not sure how that is the word of God. That taps into our need to be discerning, perhaps using the criterion of our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry: If it’s not about love it’s not about God. We see that love in Jesus, the word made flesh, who according to the gospel of John, chose to dwell among us, full of grace and truth.

Along those lines, Psalm 50 may well have been chosen for yesterday’s worship because of the gospel story always read on that Sunday before we begin the season of Lent. In yesterday’s story, Jesus on the mountaintop hears the voice of God speaking to him, declaring belovedness. As we enter the season of Lent, a season dedicated to spiritual growth, may we hear that voice speaking to us.

Here’s the challenge, maybe a good challenge to take on in the season of Lent: Are we listening for God’s voice? Or are we doing all the talking? Are we making up what we think God should be saying? This Lent, how might we carve out time for holy and faithful listening? How might we expect God to speak? To us?

-Jay Sidebotham

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