Thursday's Thought for Sunday's Service 

March 1, 2018

Dear Friends,

This week’s Thursday’s Thought for Sunday’s Service is based upon Psalm 19:

“For the director of music. A psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth. The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”                                                                                        (Psalm 19, NIV)

 

“For the director of music.  A psalm of David.”

Psalms is usually categorized as one of five books of poetry, (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon) a grouping found in the physical middle of any Bible.  The Holy Scriptures are often clustered in this way, not only defining books of poetry but also other collections, such as Law, Old Testament Narrative or History, Major and Minor Prophets, New Testament Narrative or Ministry of Jesus, Pauline Epistles, General Epistles, Apocalyptic Epistle… God’s word to us comes through many distinct forms of writing.  Clearly, Psalms utilizes language differently than any of the other 18 books that come before or 47 books that come after.  With this awareness in mind, I read and perceive, even within the 19th Psalm itself, an image of God’s word portrayed in a variety of ways.  It leaves me uplifted, strengthened, encouraged.  It’s suggestive of a more comprehensive language, pointing toward God’s righteousness and power.  A second perception is more personal. It leads me to confess to failing, falling short, like the psalmist, and where I too, feel redeemed.

Beyond interacting with the text, I become more acutely aware of God’s all-encompassing use of language, not only from reading and perceiving scripture, through my intellect and emotion, but in other ways too…

For example, the physical expression of church architecture might be defined as language using a disparate vocabulary. Consider entering a sanctuary setting, which in our case, is a space with a long nave and a central aisle.  With me at least, I start to listen in another way.  I feel my attention naturally directed toward the area in front – the chancel and alter, where symbols of communion and baptism are prominently displayed.  There are also the stained-glass windows, musical instruments, and as a minister, how could I forget the pulpit, each symbolically expressing the word of God in a variety of ways.  Even before speaking a word to begin any sermon, I am reminded how God embraces, encourages, shapes, supports, fosters, and forgives – simply, differently, and additionally –  by the building we inhabit.

God speaks in ways more comprehensively,                  and with greater complexity,                                        than words can totally convey.

It is a language which lifts, loves, instructs,                    inspires, suggests, sanctifies,                                          in a diverse, deeper array.

O Lord, there are many ways to express your word...     so to start, where would you have sit or stand,            my instrument in hand, with your community orchestra, your multifarious, linguistic band?

Please help me to understand                                     what needs to get done, to follow your leading,               to do what is right.

Also, “May these words of my mouth                         and this meditation of my heart                                   be pleasing in your sight…”

 

Rev. Richard Wagner