Archive for March 2017
Bethlehem Midweek Lenten Service Psalm 8 on March 8th 2017
by Pastor Peter Krey
The Son of God
“When we consider the heavens made by your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have made, what are we human beings that you are mindful of us?” (Verse 4)
When we look up at the night sky, it is with awe, because they become for us a window, as it were, through which we see the overwhelming infinities of the universe bringing the Psalmist to proclaim: “Oh, sovereign Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” By the eyes of our God-given minds, we can perceive and be overcome by the awe of taking in this universe of swirling galaxies, supernovae, black holes, and solar systems with exoplanets orbiting around them. Imagine the gift of being able to comprehend just a little of God’s creation! Imagine how in a newer conception of the music of the spheres, the heavenly galaxies like angels sing to each other in antiphonal anthems of praise to the Creator!
The second verse of Psalm 8 has always been puzzling: “Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark to defy your adversities, to still the enemy and the avenger.” Through the faith of little children God is keeping faith alive, so that their faith always remains as a defense against those who have lost their faith: agnostics and atheists, who do not discern the Creator with awe up in heaven through faith’s transparent physical sky. But this verse also refers to the violent and those who bring about the destruction of God’s creation with vengeance, hatred, and wars. Even in Syria, with all the buildings lying in rubble, with bombs falling, the children still play and have hope and the faith in God for a tomorrow when adults have lost it.
Think about the sun. It is 92 million miles away and our precious planet orbits around it. God placed us at just the right orbital distance, our Goldilocks zone, because if we were too close we would burn up and if we were too far away, we would all freeze. Astronomers are looking for other stars with other planets, which are also circulating around their stars with just the right warmth to welcome life and have it flourish.
But our physical sun burning up in the sky is not enough. We need to see through it to another “sun” that is the source of faith, hope, righteousness, love, forgiveness, reconciliation, and peace. Look at the wars raging in the world. Look at racism, hate speech, people being abused and destroyed; walls built to divide people. Has the sun that creates God’s imagination of paradise and brings about that creation gone out? Or have we strayed from its Goldilocks zone, from the sun shining with the light in which we see light (Psalm 36:9).
We need to orient ourselves toward the Son of God and that Sun is that source of life, faith, love, forgiveness, reconciliation, and peace. In that orbit our planet spins in the Goldilocks zone of the peace that passes understanding. That Son is the Face of God. In our lives before the Face of God, we flourish. When God’s face turns away from us we perish. That is the basis for my song, “I am Calling, Jesus Savior.”
I am calling, Jesus Savior/ won’t you hear me, O, o Savior / and send your favor/ today.
We languish without you/ and flourish about you/ please be gracious O, o Savior/ we pray.
What you’ve done amazes / your love just dazes / O my soul sings praises / all day.
This song tries to echo the Aronitic Blessing:
The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace. Amen.
In this blessing, it is quite easy to compare the Face of God shining on us with the physical sun. All our material and physical life here on earth flourishes because of the sun, which is shining in the sky; while God’s creation continues to flourish and the evil of its destruction is overcome in what the scripture calls the shining Sun of Righteousness.
When we are mindful of the God revealed in Jesus Christ and live before the Face of God in Christ, we remain in the “Goldilocks zone.” But if we try to approach the hidden God, the source of all – creation – of the physical and material world as well as life, thought, and love – approach the hidden God – apart from Christ, we would not only become overwhelmed, but we would die, because no one can see the Face of God and live. Approaching God outside of Jesus Christ would reduce us to ashes.
But thank God, we worship a God who became a human being, a God who “survived” being a human being and now remains our loving and forgiving God. because God came to be with us in Jesus Christ, God knows what we go through and is filled with love and forgiveness for us.
So Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Face of God, is the one we orient our lives around, our created planet orbits around. But for the most part, humanity has strayed from the orbit of God’s Goldilocks zone. Far away from God our angry hearts grow cold and become filled with hate, revenge, violence, and war. When we remain in the true orbit, in the right relationship with God, loving God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind and our neighbor as ourselves – then we remain in the Goldilocks zone of God’s good Creation here on earth, which Jesus called the Kingdom of Heaven and Martin Luther King, Jr. called the beloved community.
The way God became a human being in Jesus Christ, we grow and mature as human beings in Christ. The more richly Christ lives in us, the more we know ourselves, receive an existentially enriched sentience, receive the capacity to multiply our relationships and increase their quality, receive the mind of Christ and receive Christ’s heart throbbing with love and compassion in our breast.
In our orbit around the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the human Face of God, we flourish like plants, flowers, and trees blossoming in the sun. Thus, we have to repent, become heliotropic and turn our faces toward the Son of God. Why should we go astray and swerve out of orbit into empty space? Let us repent and become created by the light of God, who became a human being, creating our feet to walk in God’s ways; our hands, to do God’s will; our mouths, to speak God’s words, our ears to hear God’s voice, our hearts beating like his for the sake of forgiveness, love, and compassion.
After members of the congregation shared stories and comments, the homily concluded in the description and explanation of Luther’s four forums of our relationships: before God, before others, before ourselves, and the image we project into the world: coram Deo, coram hominibus, coram meipso, and coram mundo in Latin. When we live our lives before God, God defines us and creates us. We see God’s eyes and bask in God’s approval or see God’s eyes turn down in disapproval. Then we have to deal with our conscience. Those who do not believe in God shut out this whole transcendent existence, live only in the eyes of their neighbors, (coram hominibus) and from a theological point of view, have short-changed themselves. They may have to keep up with the Jones. The eyes of others can define their existence and lock them into a completely secular existence.
Living our life in our own eyes, (coram meipso) we might think that we know ourselves better than anyone. But that is not true. God sees our naked self and knows us and we only get to know ourselves through God’s knowledge of us. “For now we see through a mirror darkly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know even as also I am known.” The image many project into the world (coram mundo) can be very different from who they really are. But people can be on several of these forums at the same time. Sometimes we have to turn our back on others (coram hominibus) to turn to God (coram Deo). We need not fear, before the Face of God, we do not lose face. And I always pray: “Dear God, give me grace, so I do not fall on my face.”
“Return to Lord your God, for he is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love!” Amen.
 Check out Walter Murch on Michael Krasny’s NPR’s Forum speaking about the “music of the spheres” in terms of taking frequencies from vibrations of heavenly bodies in the universe and sonifying them into our auditory range so they produce musical notes. The cosmic sound of a Bb supposedly comes from the universe and the four planets around Jupiter make a combination of notes (Ab, E, C, and Bb) that sound pleasant to the ear. Thus, I stretch Walter Murch’s insights to say that the galaxies sing to each other.
 I took the wording of this verse from the translation of Artur Weiser, The Psalms, (Philadelphia: the Westminster Press, 1962), page 139. I changed the “thee” and “thou’s” to “you” and “your’s.”
 Plato contemplated an invisible, intellectual “Sun,” as the form of forms of beauty, goodness, and truth. He would call it the “Good,” and it could be considered a philosophical conception of God. Here I am interpreting it to be the Son of God, the Face of God, that source of light in which we see light.
In the service Mary spoke about entering Light in the story of her dying mother. Often people who have died and return speak of ascending toward and up into “Light.”While Mary’s mother was dying, she always kept coming back from the light she was approaching, because she told her Mary that she forgot one of her shoes. Mary explained to her that she did not need shoes in Heaven. Together they sang the children’s song, “I’m a little light-beam” which her mother always sang to her as a child and her mother died peacefully. After the funeral, Mary took picture of the Gazebo in which her mother’s urn was interred to remember the beautiful flowers. She did not see it when she took the picture, but when she saw the picture, there was a light beam entering right into the Gazebo. Mary states that it touches her heart and deepens her faith every time she looks at the picture:
 1 Corinthians 13:12.