Offered by Bill Albritton, teacher, singer, prayerful writer…
There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard.
When I was a young lad, sitting through a sermon on a hot Sunday morning in Tennessee wasn’t always a very pleasant experience. Yet I will never forget one such experience when the preacher started out his homily with something like: God’s voice is everywhere. He went on to say that God is talking to each of us all the time. He used the analogy of radio waves being all around us that morning but we don’t hear them because we don’t have radios turned on and tuned in. And then he said something like: We need to tune in to God’s station to receive God’s message to us.
As Johnna suggested in the first verse of this magnificent Psalm, it is good to get our heads up and look around in order to appreciate the Creator’s handiwork. Perhaps it is good to spend time tuning in as well.
I know I need to be doing more of it, and that means I can’t be doing all the talking. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young asked the musical question back in the early ’80’s: when everyone is talking and no one is listening, how can we decide?
[Quote from Crosby, Stills, and Nash; Daylight Again; Daylight Again, 1982; Rudy Records, Devonshire Sound and Sea West; recorded 1980-1981]
yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
Psalm 19: 3-4, NRSV
A blue jay landed on my back window ledge last night, clicking his feet against the screen and cocking his head. No words, but the request was clear: fill up the feeder, please. The jade plant out back started drooping a few days back – too much rainwater had gathered in the bottom of the pot and needed draining. A cacophony in the trees begins, then moves to the shrubs and trees in the neighboring yards: all kinds of birds raising the alarm because an owl or hawk is near by.
None of these instances involve words or discernible speech, but the message was as clear as if spoken in perfect English. If such as these are clear, how can the diversity of life on this planet be any less understood: None of this is self-made. All of this has a creator.
Lord, open my eyes, ears, hands, and mind to all that you have made, all that you are making, and all that is to come. Amen.
The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. [Ps. 19:1-4, NRSV]
[For the complete text, click Psalm 19 above.]
It isn’t like a train that only shows up for a few seconds a couple of times a day. Day to day, night to night, the heavens are telling us about God. The whole creation, in all times and places, bears witness to the God who created it all in the first place.
Whether it’s a snow squall, a cloudless sky, lightning and thunder raging, or just a sliver of moonlight filtering through the clouds, revelation is offered every hour of every day and every second of every night. What language could be grander than the heavens above our heads? What time better than all the time?
Lord, give me eyes to see and ears to hear what the heavens profess. Amen.
Walking down the street and looking at the other people walking by; waiting in line at airport security; pushing a cart down the grocery aisle: why is almost everybody looking down? At phones, their feet, the sidewalk, luggage – what is so fascinating that so few glance upward?
I am grateful for two feet planted firmly on the ground, but there’s so much more to see beyond my own toes. The glory of the constantly changing color of the sky in all kinds of weather; clouds that reveal and conceal, morphing into shapes familiar and unidentifiable; stars and planets emerging in deepening dark and fading in coming light.
God offers the beauty of the heavens, sometimes calm and other times fearsome. It sings in my heart and resonates deep in my bones. It can bring perspective, beckoning me to let go of my own pettiness and the meanness of others in favor of living in awe.
Proclamation at its best requires no words.
photo by Donna Eby
[Psalm 19 can be found in its entirety by clicking “psalm 19” above.]
It’s something my grandmother used to say, a truth that’s been handed down three generations and beyond. Life isn’t easy, but it isn’t meant to be awful. Difficulties are a given, and times of trouble and sadness are just part of life’s fabric; so is fun, joy, and satisfaction. Work finds its counterpart in play, tears in laughter, boredom in fascination.
This old world holds so much, as does the world within. You aren’t made for unending misery: you are made for joy. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
“I will put my laws in their minds, and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
And they shall not teach one another or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.
Hebrews 8:10b-11, NRSV
Are you enough? Are you loved, and lovable? Do you know, REALLY know, that God delights in you?
YES is the true answer: you are enough, you are loved and lovable, and you are a delight to God. Know this, accept this, inscribe this in your head and on your heart. This is the law of love that guides life and gives us all we need to embody love in our outer actions and inner thoughts. We won’t do it perfectly, and we might not always do it happily, but we can and will do it. And that, my friend, is reason enough to rejoice.
Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
May you be content with yourself just the way your are.
No one is perfect – it’s one of the larger truths of life. No one gets the right answer every single time, perfectly executes a new skill on the first try, or embodies physical perfection. Some sing off key, others can’t draw a recognizable figure. Some can’t cook, some can’t organize their schedules or living spaces. Some show up too early, some show up late for everything. Imperfection is everywhere – physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. No one is perfect.
But perfection isn’t the point, and seeking perfection is an exercise in frustration if not futility. None of us are expected to be perfect by God, and none of us should expect perfection from ourselves or others.
To remember that perfection isn’t the point, I ask myself a single question: Today, am I someone who tries to love God, myself, and my neighbor? If I my answer is yes, I am content.
There’s only one person in the whole world like you, and people can like you exactly as you are. Mr. Rogers
May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
Everyone is born with unique gifts and deserving of deep love. Everyone has something to offer their small part of the world that no one else can, bringing new realities into being. But it takes encouragement and courage to offer your gifts to the world. Often, they seem so small, so limited.
That’s where the second part of this benediction comes in…
Pass on the love that has been given to you. If you haven’t been loved as deeply and broadly as you deserve (and you do deserve such love!), let God’s infinite love fill your heart and pass that on. Gifts alone aren’t enough; gifts offered in love are.
It’s one of the great mysteries of life, and one of the most obvious. It’s amazing how easy it is to overlook.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others.
If I have faith in myself but not in others, I doubt I’ll see anything beyond what my own short-comings and capabilities can offer. If I have faith in others but not myself, I’ll refuse to use gifts I have, and the world will be the poorer for it. With a little faith in self and other, I trust that:
When two or more are gathered, the Spirit is present.
Where the Spirit is present, so is Love.
Where love is present, there are no limits to what might be born.
With an infinite, infinitely loving God, how could it be any different?
May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
Why am I here, at this particular place in this particular time? Why this family, these friends, this fragile and ephemeral life?
You and I are exactly where we are meant to be, not because these particular circumstances are just rewards or punishments. We are exactly where we are meant to be because we are always and eternally in the embrace of God.
Life could have been different, but it isn’t. We are exactly where we are supposed to be because it’s only from this exact spot that we take up our lives. It’s only in this exact here, this exact now, that you and I can love God, ourselves, and each other.