Every time I read Psalm 68 I remember a Bible study group I led early in my career. Someone shared parts of this Psalm as the opening devotional, commenting particularly on the psalmist’s invitation to ascribe glory and power to God. Another person in attendance immediately asked, “Why? Why should we give God credit for our strength, our success, our own achievements?” As a new and young pastor, I was rather taken aback by the question. I don’t remember where the conversation took us that night, but it’s likely that my answer is very different now.
It is like answering a question in German when the one who asked only speaks English. It’s not as simple as saying that God created all that is and so we must respond with gratitude and glory.
The need to worship God, the ability to ascribe to God glory and power, is born out of experience rather than intellectual decision. I think of that parishioner who asked the question in Bible Study. Clearly, there was something missing from the church experience if, after many years of membership, he was asking why we ascribe to God anything.
It’s easy for me to say that I can’t imagine my life without God. The times I have felt hopeless would have gone very differently if I did not believe in a loving God. The times when I have experienced joy would have just been happy little momentswithout God. I would not be who I am if I did not believe that Jesus died on my behalf, that God loves the particularity of me.
I also know that anyone listening to me can point to any place of war, tragedy, violence, poverty, hunger, homelessness, etc. and say that God is absent from the world. The language of faith is particular, as “ingroup” speak. We ought to be living an embodiment of the words we speak. We should, in this way, become the word incarnate. Talk less.
RCL – Year A – Seventh Sunday of Easter – June 1, 2014
Ps 68:1-10, 32-35
1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11