Sunday, October 7, 2012
Under Their Feet
Psalm 8, OT page 492 O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! Sermon When reading this passage it’s easy to imagine the psalmist in an empty field looking up into the night sky. “You have set your glory above the heavens” the psalmist declares, but looking up into the heavens always has a way of putting us, as well as our problems, in bold perspective. When our problems seem big we only need to consider that there are planets in our solar system whose moons are bigger than the planet earth. How big could any of our problems really be when you compare the speak any of us would be on the face of Jupiter? Distance is relative as well. Last week Sara and I drove to Charleston, SC which seemed like a long way away, but is really nothing when you consider that it would take nearly a year to reach the sun, even constantly moving in a space shuttle. In the same way, we amaze ourselves by the work of human hands – the pyramids seem huge, the empire state building seems gigantic, and then there are houses too big to live in and certainly too big to clean – but what is the work of human hands compared to the work of God’s fingers? “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established,” it’s only too natural to ask, “what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” The universe is so big. God has done so much more than we will ever do, and because of that, laying on your back looking up into the night sky can be the most humbling of positions. A position in which everything in life, ourselves included, changes dramatically. In the daily course of things our problems can seem tremendous. So big in fact that we feel obligated to carry them around on our shoulders, let them keep us up at night, and allow them to take up too much space in our minds, but what are our problems in the grand scheme of things? The same is true for distance, which we take seriously, and it can seem as though some distances are too far to bridge. There are the schisms between families, hurts that burned the ties that bind, memories that pull us apart and make being in the same room all but impossible. These distances can seem insurmountable, but what is the scale of such distances in an ever expanding universe? Still we take such things seriously, especially the work of our hands, and so we build. All nations want to have the tallest building, most people would like to live in the biggest house in the neighborhood, and too many decorate as though all it took to make people beautiful were association with a beautiful home. We build and are amazed by the work of our hands, but what is the work of human hands compared to the work of divine fingers? It’s not much to brag about, so many throughout history have been guilty of taking those things that make us feel small down to size. There were authorities in the time of Galileo who fought to keep the earth at the center of the solar system regardless of what could be proven with telescopes; there are those today who subscribe to a young earth theory in order to make our lifespan seem more than the blink of an eye in the history of time and space; and the first time my grandfather went to see the Atlantic Ocean he expected to see Europe there on the other side, never having considered that anything could be so massive as the ocean. It’s so easy to stand there on the beach and to wonder, “Who am I that you could be mindful of me?” In comparison to such things we seem so small, and, “Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet.” While your eyes can trick you into believing that you are nothing in comparison to something as great as the ocean, it’s the things that wash up on your feet that really show you your place. God gave us dominion over the works of God’s hands, and while the work of God’s hands amaze us we should all be equally shocked by the marks left on creation by human hands. The tragic signs that we are in fact much more than nothing washes up on the shore of every ocean on the globe. There are tar balls on the Gulf Coast, dead fish in Greece, and seasick trash everywhere else proving once and for all that humanity has indeed left her mark on God’s creation. Like Pharaohs before us, ensuring that time will not forget that we were here, we have left our mark. Such leftovers depict us as a plague on this earth, a disease that creation would be better off without, but scripture tells us there is more to us than that. “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” we ask. “Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.” Such a statement is hard for us to believe when staring at the night sky or standing on the beach as cigarette butts crash onto your feet, but truly I tell you that while Christ was with us here on earth, before he offered his very body and blood that you might know your true worth in his sight, he knelt at the feet of his disciples and washed their feet with his own hands. Considering the moon, the sun, and the stars – the millennia of history of which your lifespan is barely a blip – the ocean with her unimaginable depths – Christ, the incarnate God who created it all entered time and space to wash your feet. It is in light of this truth that we know that regardless of what Galileo proved, in the mind of God you are at the center of the universe. And it is in light of this truth that we know that regardless of how small one act may seem in the great course of time and space, this one act of divine kindness resounds as profoundly as sound and light. Rather than look up into the night sky aware of your minutia, consider instead the God who entered time and space to ensure you know your significance. And rather than look out on the ocean aware of its magnitude and the mark human hands have left upon it, consider instead that your legacy could be different – for great acts of love are never forgotten. Despite our importance relative to the far reaches of outer space, God who created those far reaches entrusted them to your care, for as the psalmist said, “You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.” But will the mark of your time of dominion be the trash that washes up on the beach and along the paths of the seas? Or will you instead take the time and the opportunity that God has given you to make something great? On this World Communion Sunday, a day in which we join with Christians from all over the globe to remember who Christ is to us and what the creator of the universe did with his time on this earth, be aware of the legacy that humanity is leaving, but be more aware of the legacy that humanity might leave should you adopt the lifestyle of Christ. Be reminded of what he did for you. Do not doubt your worth in the eyes of God. But neither should you doubt the impact you could have on this earth. You have been crowned with glory and honor. Now live in such a way as to deserve it. Amen.