Saturday, 25 August 2012

Notes on Psalm 19 - sermon 12th August

Paddy started by reminding us of the words of the collect for today:
Collect for Trinity 10: “make us to ask for such things as will please you”
and introduced the confession prayers as follows:

“solemn” means “joyfully serious” – confession is a solemn moment, because confessing our sins is a serious business, but we will know the joy of being forgiven.

(I’ve not managed to find this definition of solemn anywhere – all the on-line dictionaries major on the serious side and don’t reference the joyful side of the word - but I do agree that solemn and joyful is a good mindset for approaching confession)

Onto the Psalm: started by a reference to the Perseid meteor showers last night and tonight between midnight and 2 am which no one in church really knew much about. The the link is how looking at the night sky can reveal God's nature to us.

The clue to the meaning of the psalm, as is so often, is at the end; having thought about all these facets of our God, how will we respond?

Psalm 19

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice[b] goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.  In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,    making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from wilful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless,    innocent of great transgression.
14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Verses 1-6   God speaks to us through the skies
Verses 7-10 God speaks to us through the scriptures
Hebrew poetry is constructed in linked pairs of phrases, the second of which interprets the first.
Verses 11-13 God's purpose in giving us the law
Verses 14 The psalmist's response.
In the first part, the psalmist is experiencing God talking to him without words. It is hard to explain what this feels like or how it works – like looking at a painting (or listening to music)

File:Von Zinzendorf.jpgThe picture, left, is "Ecce Homo", by Domenico Feti, is in the art gallery of Dusseldorf. A visiting nobleman, Nicolaus Zinzendorf, is said to have stood and stared at it for a long while. The words in Latin at the bottom of the picture can be translated as  “This I have done for you: what have you done for me?”. It led to Zinzendorf starting a religious community on part of his estates  (Picture from wikipedia

(Picture of Ecce Homo copied and pasted this picture from this blog post:
We had been staying in Hay-on-Wye where there is significantly less light pollution than at home. We were just about able to make out the Milky Way. I remember camping out in the garden as a child, and seeing the Milky Way as a great pathway of stars reaching across the sky. One day we will have to go somewhere where I can see this again...
File:Milkyway pan1.jpg
360-degree panorama view of the Milky Way Galaxy (an assembled mosaic of photographs). wikipedia
The skies speak of the glory of God which cannot be communicated by words (Ezekiel had the same problem trying to describe his experience)

(I remember a preacher at our church, years ago, saying how she had had a rotten birthday – alone, no-one at work knew it was her birthday, and she hated her work anyway, and no birthday cards from anyone, and feeling utterly miserable. On the way home, she saw the most beautiful, spectacular sunset, and it came to her that this was a special birthday “card” from God tor her”)

George Matheson is the name of the hymn writer who wrote the words of "O love that will not let me go" full of phrases about light and rainbows to describe the nature of God; phenomena which he could no longer see as he became virtually blind while still young. (short biography here
O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flick’ring torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.
The glory of the Lord is about Joy.
The second half of the psalm is all about The Lord: the covenant name for God: and different words for The Law

Did you know that the Bible – that is to say, the word of God, and his Laws – has always been top of the bestselling list of books apart from one year (1962, Lady Chatterley’s Lover!)
wikipedia again!
Honey is associated with learning in the Scriptures. An ancient tradition in Judaism is for the father, when the children are 4, to write the scriptures on a slate, and then cover them with honey, and the child licks the honey off, so that scripture is associated with the sweet taste of honey (I have read somewhere that an Islamic tradition is that the father of a baby writes the name of God in honey on the baby’s tongue, so that an early taste is the sweet name of God. This reminds me of a Sunday School lesson years ago on Psalm 34, where we wrote “The Lord” in writing icing on a biscuit and ate it, “ taste and see that the name of the Lord is Good Psalm 38 v 4. that was a popular lesson.

The final verse is the famous prayer which preachers often use at the beginning of their sermon. Our response to experiencing the hugeness of God.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Morning Prayer via Twitter

This appeared in my twitter feed or stream or pond or whaterever it is called this morning:

I'm not great at morning prayers and daily devotions, but I think I could manage this one.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Sunday 5th August 2012 - Psalm 8

Notes made on Sermon given by Paddy Beresford

Psalm 8

For the director of music. According to gittith. A psalm of David.

1 Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
in the heavens.
2 Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them? 

5 You have made them a little lower than the angels  
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
7 all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
8 the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

The Sinai Peninsula at center and the Dead Sea and Jordan Valley above.
9 Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth! 

Psalm 8

King James Version (KJV)

O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:
7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;
8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.
9 O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth

This is a good psalm for if one is feeling insignificant. Maybe that is your usual state of being; you feel small, and insignificant, and unimportant, and weak, and  - but it is not a godly state of being!  
Or maybe you are someone who IS significant in one area of your life, and take pleasure, comfort, pride in your status, but then, in another sphere you find this status is not transferable, and you feel cast down. Or maybe you become insignificant, or sidelined, or overlooked, simply by growing older, for instance.

We all need to feel needed. Psalm 8 is good for when we feel insignificant.

Gitteth is another name for Gath, the city that Goliath came from. Feeling insignificant is a personal giant we all need to be able to slay.

The hebrew word "oz" means "strength, but also sometimes "praise" - the usual hebrewq word for "praise" is "navah". The Praise (navahpriasing God that we are being threatened, but praising God as a weapon in the battle)

In Romans 1:20, Paul says that God's power is to be seen in creation.

God used his fingers to create the world - that was the easy stuff. When he gets to work in our lives, he "bares his arms", ie "rolls up his sleeves". Being involved in the affairs of man is "hard work"

"ish" is the usual word for "man" in hebrew, and "adam" is the word used for "mankind". In this psalm, the word "inosh" is used, with the sense of puny, weakling.

There are two Special Acts of God;
He thinks about you,
He cares about you.

the writer of the letter to the Hebrews states Jesus intercedes for you - he is there, praying for you. Even if no-one else is praying for you, you know that Jesus is. Peter's letter states that God cares for you.

God doesn't get your name muddled up with other people's names,, he doesn't get irritated with out constant iterruptions.

Homonymns - words with the same sounds, but different meanings, like bowl (cricket) and bowl (cereal). In hebrew, the word they use for "cares" also has the meaning of "visits" - hence verse 4 in the AV. God comes to us, to pay us a visit. He makes the effort.

Psalm ends with a commission: Man has been made a little lower than God, to rule over everything He made.

Remember, Cast your burdens upon the Lord, for he cares for you.