God of Zion, to you even silence is praise.
Promises made to you are kept—
you listen to prayer—
and all living things come to you.
When wrongdoings become too much for me,
you forgive our sins.
How happy is the one you choose to bring close,
the one who lives in your courtyards!
We are filled full by the goodness of your house,
by the holiness of your temple.
In righteousness you answer us,
by your awesome deeds,
God of our salvation—
you, who are the security
of all the far edges of the earth,
even the distant seas.
You establish the mountains by your strength;
you are dressed in raw power.
You calm the roaring seas;
calm the roaring waves,
calm the noise of the nations.
Those who dwell on the far edges
stand in awe of your acts.
You make the gateways
of morning and evening sing for joy.
You visit the earth and make it abundant,
enriching it greatly
by God’s stream, full of water.
You provide people with grain
because that is what you’ve decided.
Drenching the earth’s furrows,
leveling its ridges,
you soften it with rain showers;
you bless its growth.
You crown the year with your goodness;
your paths overflow with rich food.
Even the desert pastures drip with it,
and the hills are dressed in pure joy.
The meadowlands are covered with flocks,
the valleys decked out in grain—
they shout for joy;
they break out in song! (Common English Bible)
The biblical psalms present God as sovereign over all creation. Today’s psalm extols the Lord of the universe as God of both temple and terra, of people and the earth.
God of the temple
Praise is the appropriate offering to God – because it is the Lord who listens, forgives, and chooses to fill persons with the holiness and goodness of God’s presence, exemplified in the temple.
Infinite righteousness cannot be fulfilled by finite beings. In other words, we need God.
The nineteenth century philosopher and theologian, Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) insisted that the humans did not established themselves; therefore, no one can simply exercise their will toward better and brighter circumstances.
Kierkegaard argued that humanity, at its core, is a synthesis of the infinite and the finite, the temporal and the eternal. A finite human is not a self; only when connected and aware of the infinite is someone a self. (The Sickness Unto Death)
Creatures can never lift themselves above anxiety, worry, distress, or hardship with only finite resources; we need infinite supplies and divine capital, to tap into the image of God within us, to realize that our true identity is inextricably dependent upon our Creator.
We are more than bodies and brain synapses; we are also souls. And as souls, we shall never realize our true selves through the temporary means of possessions, prestige, and power. A person cannot construct a self, by themselves, to bear the weight of who we really are. That’s because our real identity is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)
Just as the temple in Jerusalem was much more than a physical structure, so we, as the people of God, are so much more than tangible beings.
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16, NRSV)
Praise, prayer, and worship are practices designed to connect with the infinite God. Indeed, the kingdom of God is much nearer than we know.
Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.” (Luke 17:20-21, NRSV)
God of terra
We walk upon and inhabit this present terra firma, this earth. The earth, and all that is in it, belongs to the Lord. God is something of a cosmic farmer, taking care of the earth, watching over it, tending to its needs.
All that takes place on this celestial ball we live upon is under the gracious and loving eye of God. It is the Lord who brings the seasons and the rains, calming the storms of the seas, as well as the storms of our lives.
One of the reasons we find ourselves in such an impending climate debacle on this earth, is that we continue to utilize all the finite resources we can muster and fail to acknowledge and become aware of the grand infinite wherewithal we have with our Creator and Sustainer.
The earth is beautiful. Yet, in our insistence upon merely using the temporal and physical, ugliness has come upon the earth, obscuring the true nature of God’s good creation. Distancing ourselves from the Creator only builds bigger obstacles to solving the earth’s most significant issues.
Self-imposed and ensconced impediments need to be cleared away. The weeds have overtaken the garden; we can no longer see the good plants that are supposed to grow and produce a harvest. And yet, as any farmer or gardener knows, you cannot simply yank such weeds from the ground without also pulling up what you are trying to preserve.
The Lord will provide – but if we keep to our stubborn independence from God, the process of weeding the garden will take much longer to accomplish. Yet, God is patient, not wanting any to perish but all to come around to the infinite. (2 Peter 3:9)
Let us come to God in our neediness and failure. We must see ourselves as infinite souls with finite solutions who can cry out to the God who hears and forgives. We need to connect with the Lord who hears our prayers. It is imperative that we rely upon the infinite Creator who is concerned to cultivate justice and righteousness upon an earth which is full of plenty for everyone.
Praise, pray, give thanks, and be connected to the infinite One whom we need for life and godliness in this present, evil, and finite age.
Stay joined to me and I will stay joined to you. No branch can produce fruit alone. It must stay connected to the vine. It is the same with you. You cannot produce fruit alone. You must stay joined to me. (John 15:4, ERV)
Blessed God and Father of all, yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. To you belongs the heavens and the earth. It is you who made all that is – sun, moon, stars, rivers, forests, minerals, birds, animals, fish, and us – and pronounced it all “good.” We seek your divine mercy and help so that our work and our worship may curb the sin that so easily entangles and bring your intended shalom to the earth. Amen.