Sermon: Open Invitation

The other morning I was standing at the kitchen window over the sink, savoring my morning coffee, and I was looking out at the back yard as the snow was finally melting. Just the day before, the same view was a blanket of white that covered the entire yard and hid all of the fallen limbs, leaves left behind from the Fall clean up, and all the rest. But on this morning, all of that was in view again, that, and more.

The grass was a little greener than it had been and I noticed that some of our plants have started their springtime journey from the ground and it brought me some hope that warmer weather was coming and soon I would be able to get back out in that back yard and start working.

Later that same day, as I was preparing to leave, I was putting my bag on my car, and I happened to look alongside our driveway.  The sun does not always reach that part of our yard, so the snow tends to linger, like the family member that comes for a visit, and the visit never seems to come to an end. But as I gazed at the snow, I noticed that the crocus has started to make its appearance and push up through the snow. This tiny little plant that comes and goes in the blink of an eye has the strength to push through the snow cover to bring us its beauty and most of the time, we just pass by without even noticing it.

We live hectic lives. I am not sure if those of us living today are busier than those that came before us or if it just seems that way. People are always rushing from one thing to the next not really paying attention to where we are going. I am a slave to my calendar, it’s the first thing I check in the morning, in fact, I get an email at 5 am with my schedule attached, and it is, most of the time, the last thing I check before I lay my head down at night. I cannot make plans for anything until I have checked both the electronic version of my calendar and the paper version of my schedule.

But, we set priorities, and we seem to be able to make time for the things we value in our lives. We seem to have room for just about anything that might come along. I have shifted things around on numerous occasions to make room for a last minute call from a friend or family member to do something. But the question I have is, do we have room for God in our lives?

I switched up the readings today, and I add the selection from Psalm 63 because I felt it was a valuable addition. If you have not spent much time reading the Psalms, I would suggest you make them part of your Lenten devotions. Yes, some of them are long, and they do get a bit tiresome after a bit, but then you come across one, like the selection from Psalm 63, and things get a little brighter.

This Psalm is about longing and about desire. This is a Psalm about a relationship with God that is placed above everything else even life itself.

As you know, I often quote Jesus when he speaks about love of neighbor. But I do not usually talk about the first part of that verse, love God. Jesus tells us in the 22nd chapter of Matthew’s Gospel that we should, “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” He goes on to say, “this is the greatest and first commandment.” We are to love God with our entire being, and we are to love God first.

The Psalmist sets out his desire for God:

-God, you are my God. I seek you. My soul thirst for you. My flesh faints for you. As in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Is God your God? Is God the only god you have or are there other gods in your life? Are there other things in your life that you desire, that you long for and that you place above all other things? Do you seek after God daily in scripture, nature, in the faces of other people? Does your soul thirst for God like the parched dry land seeks for water?

-I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.

Do we look upon the sanctuary of God, the earth and all of its creation, and are we in awe of a sunrise or a sunset? Do we take time to notice the crocus fighting to get through the snow? Are we doing all we can to safeguard that sanctuary of God? Do we look upon another person, God’s creation and the sanctuary of God, and see the glory of God in them or are we blinded by their color, nationality, socioeconomic level, and all the rest? Do we thank God for giving us another day to behold the magnificence of creation?

-Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.

Do we praise God or is the only time we mention God when we exclaim, “O my God?” Do we give thanks to God for everything in life, the good, and the bad? Do we blame God when things go wrong? It’s okay if you do God can handle it but do we thank God when things go right? Do we seek the guidance of God before making a big decision in our lives? Do we offer our lives to God and recommit ourselves to the service of God and humanity each day? Do we seek the love of God, which is better than life itself and do we show that love of God toward others? When people look at us, do we radiate the love of God or is it hard to tell?

-So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name?

Do we pray each day? We do not have to have long, drawn-out prayers, saying “thank you God for giving me another day” is just as good a prayer as any. Recite the Lord’s prayer each morning as soon as you open your eyes, thank God for your family, and ask God to be with you throughout the day. At the end of the day, say that prayer again and thank God for being with you and for all that you were able to accomplish.

-My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips.

Is your soul satisfied or do you need to work on your relationship with God? Do you spend time alone, in silence, listening for that still small voice to direct your life? Do you see the beauty of creation and in others around you or is all you see hopelessness and despair? Relationships require work, human relations and our relationship with God and sometimes when the relationship is not going well, we need to seek help from a spiritual parent or a guide to get us back on track. Are we seeking?

-I meditate on you in the watches of the night

For a second time, the Psalmist mentions prayer and meditation. Are we doing this? Are we listening or is our prayer merely a list of things we wish for God to do and then, once we have said our bit, we end the conversation before God has a chance to speak? Do we spend time, even five minutes a day reading scripture or using the Our Daily Bread we provide for you?

-My soul clings to you

The Psalmist ends just as he began, with desire, with longing.  Our relationship should be such that we cannot go a day without being in the presence of God. We should desire to spend time, even five minutes a day, with God.

It is no mistake that this Psalm is appointed during the season of Lent as this is the season that calls us to a more significant relationship with God. Spend some time in the days ahead working on your relationship, and if you are having trouble, do not despair, keep on going, and things will get better.