Sunday, June 23, 2019 - 9 AM
Majestic – Psalm 8 Bascomb UMC / June 26, 2019 / 9AM & 11AM Focus: The proper place to situate humans in the creation scheme of God is right behind our example: Jesus. Function: Being in our proper place with God avoids the extremes of arrogant idolatry or low self-worth so we function best as servants of God. 5 Purpose Outcomes of the Church: Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Evangelism, Service Psalm 8 (CEB) For the music leader. According to the Gittith. A psalm of David. 1 LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name throughout the earth! You made your glory higher than heaven! 2 From the mouths of nursing babies you have laid a strong foundation because of your foes, in order to stop vengeful enemies. 3 When I look up at your skies, at what your fingers made — the moon and the stars that you set firmly in place — 4 what are human beings that you think about them; what are human beings that you pay attention to them? 5 You’ve made them only slightly less than divine, crowning them with glory and grandeur. 6 You’ve let them rule over your handiwork, putting everything under their feet — 7 all sheep and all cattle, the wild animals too, 8 the birds in the sky, the fish of the ocean, everything that travels the pathways of the sea. 9 LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name throughout the earth! A Time for Children: Behind the Name – Sophia = Wisdom. I’ve got a website up on the screen that will tell you what your name means (maybe?) – for instance, put Walter in there and let’s see what it says…(then put in two other random names – not theirs – we are live streaming). Now, one more name I want you to know – Sophia – that’s a beautiful name. It means wisdom and there’s a scripture from Proverbs about Sophia Wisdom – every time you hear Wisdom – you say “Sophia!” Ready? Doesn’t Wisdom (Sophia) cry out and Understanding shout? Atop the heights along the path, at the crossroads she takes her stand. Wisdom (Sophia) was formed in ancient times, at the beginning, before the earth was. When there were no watery depths, Wisdom (Sophia) was brought forth, when there were no springs flowing with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, Wisdom (Sophia) was brought forth; before God made the earth and the fields or the first of the dry land. Wisdom (Sophia) was there when God established the heavens and marked out the horizon on the deep sea. Wisdom (Sophia) was having fun, smiling before God all the time, frolicking with the earth's inhabitants and delighting in the human race. Now children, listen to Wisdom (Sophia): Happy are those who keep to my ways! Listen to instruction and be wise....... Proverbs 8 (CEB-selected). It seems Sophia was part of God’s heavenly court. And even SHE delighted in the human race and all of earth’s creation just like our Psalm verses today. So, remember Sophia/Wisdom, be all God created you to be, have fun frolicking with the earth’s critters, and BE SAFE. Amen! Now folks, that relates to Psalm 8. I hope you realized all the praise we’ve been giving God’s name as Majestic today is reflected in God’s Majestic creation! Psalm 8 is considered the first hymn of praise in the Psalter. It interrupts a sequence of prayers for God’s providence, God’s protection, and God’s salvation to say something very important about this God to whom we pray: In Hebrew it says that Yahweh Adonai is a cosmic sovereign whose MAJESTY is visible in the whole of creation. Psalm 8 is a hymn of praise unlike any other Psalm in structure and style. It is the only hymn in the Old Testament composed completely as direct address to God. It begins and concludes with an exclamation of adoration. But notice that, in English, the first line says “Lord” twice: LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name” Psalm 8:1 (CEB). All Caps LORD and then capital “L” Lord. That’s the CEB – the NRSV uses two different words: O Lord, our Sovereign, ….the CEV says: Our Lord and Ruler, the Message translation says: God, brilliant Lord. Names were power in the ancient world. The Hebrew name was officially Yahweh Adonai in the text, but they would not speak the Holy Name of Yahweh, so they would just substitute Adonai – therefore we get it twice! Also, there’s another Hebrew name used - Elohim which is generic for God, not angels. Verses 5–8 are drawn from Genesis 1. Elohim is the word exclusively used for God in Genesis (read the front of the bulletin). Now the emphasis I’ve taken from the scriptures today is that WE are made in God’s image. David’s psalm is linking men and women to God, being slightly less than Elohim, in whose image we are made. Walter Brueggemann wrote “The Message of the Psalms,” where he points out that the beginning and ending of Psalm 8 is focused entirely on God, yes, but the center is focused on humanity. The Psalmist has scanned all creation, absorbed its beauty, and then is moved to wonder: …what are human beings that you think about them; what are human beings that you pay attention to them? You’ve made them only slightly less than divine, crowning them with glory and grandeur. You’ve let them rule over your handiwork, putting everything under their feet Psalm 8:4-6 (CEB). “You’ve let them rule” that’s where we land the hardest - the place where we most often fall. We see “rule” as an open-ended invitation to do as we please. But as our Proverbs scripture makes clear, creation is the realm of God's joyful delight. God places humanity into creation to be caretakers and stewards. We are called to take our place as responsible partners with God in creation. Alright! We are made in God’s image and ordained to become increasingly like God (after the example of Jesus). A mutation - an extreme of this attitude is to get so full of ourselves that we end up turning our backs on God. Making ourselves gods instead. When it comes to arrogance, I offer you the story of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. His story is told in Daniel where he turned his back on God, looked out over the great capital of his empire and said: “Isn’t this Babylon, the magnificent city that I built as the royal house by my own mighty strength and for my own majestic glory?” Daniel 4:30 (CEB). It was a classic statement of secular humanism, describing creation as of the person, by the person, and for the person. But look what happens next: “These words hadn’t even left the king’s mouth when a voice came from heaven: ‘You, King Nebuchadnezzar, are now informed: Kingship is taken away from you. You will be driven away from other humans and will live with the wild animals. You will eat grass like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you acknowledge that the Most High dominates human kingship, giving it to anyone he wants’ ” Daniel 4:31–32 (CEB). Nebuchadnezzar became insane. It is insanity to take the glory of God for oneself, putting yourself in the place of God. The great king was driven out to live with and behave like the wild animals. If we no longer see ourselves as creatures made in God’s image with chief responsibility “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” If we no longer look to God for our sense of identity and worth, what other direction can we look? Downward to the beasts. Are we just a higher form of the animal kingdom? Eliminate God and it’s the only choice left to us. We are only slightly advanced beasts who then behave like beasts. (or we behave worse than beasts, doing things even animals would not even dream of doing). So human arrogance might not be our biggest problem. Maybe it’s the opposite? I’m talking about low self-esteem. All the negative images we have of ourselves: ageism, body shaming, taking all the meaning of life from our jobs, our production as workers or artists. Our greatest ability is to denigrate ourselves. (Tell the marriage counselor story). And our track record as a species does leave a lot to be desired - our care (or rather, abuse) of the earth, land and sea and its creatures. Our reluctance to care for one another. And what puny things we are in relation to the rest of God's creation; we are infinitesimal by comparison. That’s why we dream of superheroes who can do everything we can’t do and look good while doing it! But the real superheroes are the teachers, mentors, and others who see the good in us when we can’t see anything but darkness. Ryan Speedo Green was a violent (and big for his age) 5th grader who was mistreated so badly that he ended up in a detention ward. But his teacher and his social worker would not give up on him! (play video clip: Ryan Speedo Green's trip from lockup to the opera stage) And God sees more in us. We can cast a larger, holy shadow. When parents look at their newborn child, do they just see a diaper change, or the totally self-absorbed creature that it is? No, parents see (through love) a creature of loveliness and potential. God must have even greater ability. To see the negative requires little talent, creativity or imagination. To trust God’s dreams and visions for what we can be does require talent, creativity and imagination. In God's high regard of us, God shows us once again how great, how majestic our God is. So, if King David is amazed at God, can we be as well? God sees us as the best of all creation. How can that be? Well, God has made us stewards of all creation, given responsibility for the land, sea, and air and its inhabitants. What incredible respect and honor God has shown us. God is the God who can make weak creatures strong! And there’s more! What does God do to help us see our great worth? God sends Jesus to fulfill Psalm 8 as we have not. Let’s take a cue from the life of Jesus Christ, who became a servant that all might find life. Affirmation from Philippians 2:5-11 ONE: Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus: Though he was in the form of God, he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit. ALL: But he emptied himself by taking the form of a slave and by becoming like human beings. ONE: When he found himself in the form of a human, ALL: he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. ONE: Therefore, God highly honored him and gave him a name above all names, ALL: so that at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Now we are looking up again—by the grace of God—and the grace of God, which has saved us and redirected our affections, now begins the work of once again conforming us to his likeness. We end Psalm 8 where David himself ended it, crying, “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Let us pray…………………. The storms surrounding us - Let it break at Your name Call the sea to still - the rage in me to still - Every wave at Your name Jesus Jesus - You make the darkness tremble Jesus Jesus - You silence fear Jesus Jesus - You make the darkness tremble Jesus Jesus Call these bones to live - Call these lungs to sing Once again I will praise Your name - a light that the shadows can't deny That cannot be overcome - Your name is alive forever lifted high Jesus Jesus how majestic is your name in all the earth!