Sunday, January 27, 2013

Thought, Word and Deed
Sermon given at 1st Congregational Church of Emerald Grove WI (UCC)

Click here to read the two Bible passages for this morning

Psalm 19 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

Children's Letters to God
Dear God,
Thank you for the baby brother but what I asked for was a puppy. Joyce

Dear God,
my Grandpa says you were around when he was a little boy. How far back do you go? Love, Dennis

Dear God,
is it true my father won't get in Heaven if he uses his golf words in the house?

Dear God,
maybe Cain and Abel would not kill each other so much if they each had their own rooms. It works out OK with me and my brother. Larry

Dear God,
I didn't think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset you made on Tuesday night. That was really cool. Thomas

Psalm 19 is just beautiful isn't it., I wish we could take the time to spend to really study it. Both of these passages for that matter!

author C. S. Lewis said of Psalm 19: "I take this to be the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world."

the Psalms have been called the Hebrew Hymn book and the Christian prayer book. The Psalms were songs, sung in worship :) This is a Psalm of David, the great king of Israel. David lived about 1000 years before the time of Jesus and of course Jesus is a direct descendant of King David.

the child who said “that sunset was really cool” is saying the same thing as the Psalmist...but David was a bit more eloquent. :) Psalm 19 is a more formal version of's a song telling of God being revealed through all of creation, but especially in the skies above us. Just picture in your mind for a moment some of the views you have seen....A brilliant sun shining in the vivid blue sky, Or the power of an oncoming thunderstorm, the colors of a sunset, gazing at the moon and stars on a clear night...

We get a glimpse of the beauty and majesty and even mystery of God in the heavens. And elsewhere in creation too....mountains, the ocean, the forests, and even the rolling hills of Wisconsin...there is such a variety of creation. God created all of this for us! And then created humans, us, to be in relationship with God and with each other.
Of course we keep messing up those relationships. And we have to come back to God don't we. That is why God keeps giving us lovely sunrises and sunsets, or angry looking clouds, and starry help us notice.

When we recognize the power and beauty of God in creation, what is our reaction? We may stop and say WOW. We may express gratitude. We may just want to soak in the view in wonder. All of these are appropriate and honor God,. They help us reach out to God, just as God is reaching out to us.

The psalmist goes from worshiping God in creation to celebrating the Law...God's word. The “law of the Lord, the precepts, the commands” it says, all refer to Scripture! This is another way God is revealed to us, through Scriptures! And when we recognize God in our lives, we often also then recognize our failings. Because God is perfect, and we are so NOT! David says that keeping The word of God close is how we can keep pure...keep from sin-which is ANYTHING that separates us from God. We do know that David didn't always stay so pure...during his mid-life crisis with Bathsheba-he did indeed break a few commandments! But he repented, and confessed, pouring out his grief over that sin in another Psalm, 51, (create in me a clean heart..) David is a great example of the forgiveness of God and foreshadowing of Jesus, through whom we can obtain divine forgiveness.

Our Psalm concludes with a lovely prayer....May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, oh Lord my rock and my redeemer! In ancient times, the heart is the core of who you were, they did not know that the brain is where we think and process emotions and all that.
We are to honor God in thought and word! The Hebrew word here translated “acceptable” means something much deeper than our English word. It is a word that refers to worship...actually to sacrificial worship, bringing the best gift you can to the Lord. So this prayer means may my words and even my thoughts be more than OK, but honorable and reverent of God, something that can help bring the knowledge of God to others.

Keeping to the Word of God helps us to know God and to better be in relationship with God and with each other. Spending time with the Bible -prayerfully reading, is one of the most powerful things we can do. The Bible reminds us that no matter what, God is with us-always!

Author Richard Foster in Life With God...
{This} divine assurance .... is also a divine invitation: “I am with you—will you be with Me?” This dynamic is the absolute unifying center of the Bible. Every story in the Bible, no matter its twists and turns, whether the human characters are trustworthy or untrustworthy, whether the story is sad or happy, is built on this clarion call to relationship. “I am with you—will you be with Me?”

When we recognize this call to relationship, it is not a solitary thing. It is for us as individuals, but also for families, churches, communities. But of course it begins with each of us one to one. But our new Testament lesson reminds us that we are not in this alone. We humans are part of the Body...the Body of Christ.
We are all a part of the body and we all have different gifts and talents. It would be boring if we were all the same! And we wouldn;t get as much done! It takes a variety of gifts to make things work well!

Foster Human beings are so important to God that the divine purposes are worked out through the messiness and sprawl of human history. Apparently, it is more important to God that human beings learn his ways in freedom than it is to get things done efficiently.

Our gifts and talents are tools to be used in relationship! To help the rest of the Body of humanity find and worship and celebrate the Love of Christ.

No matter your denomination, your upbringing in or out of church, no matter gender, race or idealism, we are connected, we belong to each other!

My husband Martin and I are blessed to be able to travel as our church's delegates to National meetings in different cities each summer. And as we meet folks from all over the country, it's amazing how connected we are! Folks know of Wisconsin and even of Beloit and Janesville. In Massachusetts a traffic cop grinned at our Wisconsin plates, waved and hollered Green Bay Packers! A random conversation in New Mexico with a couple from California, whose son graduated from Beloit College! (What ARE the odds!) I got to meet the author who was the Bible lecturer at our national meeting. Her name is Marva Dawn. She is from Ohio and lives in Washington State. I actually encountered her in the hallway after breakfast one day. Introduced myself and said where I am from, she said, “Oh, Beloit!” in her sweet voice...I said, astonished, “you know us!?” and she said, “My grandfather, my mother's father, who lived to be 100 years old, was from Janesville!”

we are all connected...and being connected we share in each other lives.

If one member of the Body of Christ hurts, the whole body hurts. When one member of a church is grieving, we grieve with them. When there is suffering in our town, we all suffer, maybe not directly, but trouble in any community will affect all the other members.

But when things go well, we all get to rejoice! That's why we pray for each other! We pray in community, praying, sharing our pain and our reasons for joy! And these prayers bring us ever closer together and closer to the heart of our Creator God.

Henri Nouwen In the heart of God we find the true joy of being part of the human race. There we are truly connected, not only with God, but with ourselves and with one another.

As we discover the heart of God for ourselves, that incomparable love and joy
and find our connections, we become more and more like our Loving Lord, and our families, churches and communities will become the places of love and compassion and wholeness that they are meant to be.

Marva Dawn “God's revelation... unmasks our illusions about ourselves. It exposes our pride, our individualism, our self-centeredness - in short, our sin. But worship also offers forgiveness, healing, transformation, motivation, and courage to work in the world for God's justice and peace - in short, salvation in its largest sense.”

this is what real community offers and what I pray our churches, Here in Emerald Grove, in Beloit, all through Wisconsin, and all churches, everywhere!! can be. We find these things, this “forgiveness, healing, transformation, motivation, and courage to work in the world for God's justice and peace” ONLY in our Lord Jesus, the embodiment of God who came to earth to live as a human, born a tiny infant! Jesus lived his life to show us how to live and he chose to go to the Cross, the cruelest death that humankind could devise, out of that incomparable love for us. Through His life, death, and resurrection, we have the greatest gift.

We live and worship truly when we honor God in thought, word and in out the love of Christ, reaching out to the rest of the Body to help us all find that love, joy, healing and transformation. This is my prayer for each of us and for the world. 

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