A Song of Joy to the Living God

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 The Sunday Sermon – August 2, 2015

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rencontre femme tahiti A Song of Joy to the Living God / Psalm 84

It is August! The month named for the first Emperor of the Roman Empire, Augustus, whose reign initiated the Pax Romana, or “Roman Peace,” a peace maintained through the violent suppression of any who opposed him, other Empires or any individuals. His full title Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus gave rise to Roman Imperial Theology that henceforth understood all Emperors to be “Divine, Son of God, God from God, Liberators, and Saviors.” The Roman Empire was this “earthly god’s” kingdom. It was this “Imperial theology” and these claims for earthly kingdoms that a first century Jew from Nazareth would engage and whose followers would confront, as they claimed Jesus to be their Lord and Savior and the Kingdom of God to be their home, on earth as it will be in heaven. It is … August! And that’s what all of us are thinking about as this month begins, is it not?! (Uh huh … no …it’s not.)

I know that. Just making sure you’re awake and paying attention for the first part of our annual summer celebration – this worship hour. I know what your, what our, minds are on as this month begins. August means: Summertime, even in its last weeks. Hot weather, swimming, last minute vacations, back-to-school shopping and haircuts and class registrations, Fall sport practices, all-day Marching Band drills, final family reunions, and … picnics, of course. Notably this morning, the annual Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church picnic. (If you listen closely you can hear the sounds of the volunteers preparing everything outside, feeling justified in missing the worship service happening in this room because of all they have to do in not much time!).

So, of course, we’re thinking of the fun, fellowship, and family that our picnic brings every year. Augustus and first century history can wait for Rally Day next month and a new year of Christian Education, I suppose. Still … wherever our minds may roam this morning, we are centered on the same reality we all share in our lives: The education, the formation, the fellowship we share because of our experience of a living, loving God in our lives together.

Let us “Sing a Song of Joy to the Living God,” with the words of the 84th Psalm. Listen for the Word of God … Read Psalm 84 …

We are a God-intoxicated group of people. That’s not an unfamiliar term to any of you, whether you remember it or not, we’ve discussed this fact. There is no part of our lives that our God is not a part of, in spite all the questions and even doubts we may have about how the “Holy” is present in our world and in our lives. We cannot dismiss or escape our experience of something other, something transcendent, living and at work in our lives. It’s August and we have much on our minds, as usual. But always there is our “God” at work in our lives and in the world. We are “God”-intoxicated

Into this reality we hear Psalm 84 this morning … one of the most expressive and beautiful of all the songs of Zion. Of all the psalms that celebrate Zion and its Temple as God’s dwelling place, the eighty-fourth has been the favorite. Its joy in the place where God dwells and the comparisons and experiences used to illustrate that joy make it one of the most highly expressive poems of all times, biblical and beyond.

From the opening exclamation (How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!) to its closing beatitude (Happy is everyone who trusts in you, O God.) the psalm celebrates the joys afforded creation by the dwelling of God among and within us. God’s dwelling is not found in distant, external height images that locate God far apart from us, but in immediate, internal depths that find God right here among us, even deep within us.

Psalm 84 was originally sung by pilgrims as they made their way toward, arrived at, or walked about Jerusalem. As they arrived they sang out: “God is here, in the Temple court!” As we arrive on Sunday morning, we sing out, too: “God is here!” In the gathering and in this place! That’s why we’ve come again. To touch holiness in some small way, if only by begin together to share the mystery. “Our hearts and our flesh,” our bodies and our souls, our minds and our Spirits join to “sing for joy to the living God!”

That’s why we’re here! Oh, I know you think you’re here this morning because you mom or dad made you come. You think you came because you know I’d call you later this week if you hadn’t. You think you’re here because you have some sort of obligation to fill, or because there’s barbeque after. But you’re wrong. You’re wrong!

I know these and other explanations may be the reason you got dressed to come, but you are here https://www.moon-garden.com/36800-dtf83765-rencontre-libertine-cannes-wannonce.html now because you are God-intoxicated and your soul longs, “indeed it, too, faints,” for the presence of God. How lovely, indeed. And how happy we are … So …

Look around you, now, in your happiness (go on, don’t be shy) … take in the faces of others here. So many of them you know well. Some you don’t know as well and some, perhaps, not at all. But each one here has God in their lives and Love in their heart. That’s why they are here, too. The joy you are feeling inside is felt by everyone you see here. And there is more …

Look around again and notice … Who is not here?  Who is not here, who should be here?

Not so much those who are on vacation or out of town this weekend, or even those who are just taking one Sunday morning to connect to life and to God in a different way. No, but who is not with you, with us, this morning, and why not? Are they in another sanctuary somewhere now, or later on this day? Are they not apt to find God in a place such as this? Where do they, then? How can you help with that “touch?” Picture them in your mind’s eye …

Maybe some members of this community you haven’t seen in a while. Maybe someone who isn’t a member here or in any other church community – some friend in your life who you know is God-intoxicated but who keeps coming up with reasons for not coming, let alone joining, a church fellowship. Maybe it’s someone you don’t know too well at all, but whose face and family just come to mind when I ask you: Who is not here this morning? Members, non-members, family, friend, acquaintance, relative stranger? How can you get them here? Not just to this place, but to this experience of Love? How can you share your song of joy with them and others? These are the questions for this week.

As we worship our living God in this room and in just a few moments in the larger “room” outside, let our Communion table and our Picnic table help us to remember, not only the life of Christ, but the life of Christ’s body: you and me and everyone who sings a song of joy to the Living God. Everyone here, everyone not here who should be here, and all who sing:

 How lovely is this dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!  / Our hearts and our flesh sing for joy, / To you, the living God.

For summertime, hot weather, swimming, last minute vacations, back-to-school shopping and haircuts, class registrations, Fall sport practices, all-day Marching Band drills, final family reunions, and … picnics. Let us sing a song of joy to the living God this morning and always.

Amen.

Reverend Joel Weible, Pastor / Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church / August 2, 2015