This morning’s sermon … enjoy!
Psalm 42 & 43
We Are The Living God
Out of the mouths of babes …
A friend of mine from my church in Georgia has a three-and-a-half-year-old son named Max. One Wednesday night, she posted the following Facebook status update:
Max asked me to sing him Jesus Loves The Little Children tonight and I couldn’t remember the 2nd verse so I made one up…. Buddhist, Muslim, Catholic, Jew and the little Baptist too… It worked. Then Max wanted to sing it himself… It went something like this. Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Buddhist, Muslim, Captain Jew, Jesus loves his breakfast too. Jesus loves the little children of the world.
The beauty of Protestantism is that the Gospel is open to many interpretations.
This morning’s reading from the Book of Galatians reminds us that because of Jesus, we are able to freely interpret the Gospel and to discern God’s call for us in our lives. “Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed,” Paul wrote. “But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.”
That is – indeed – the Good News that brings us new life.
Because we are no longer guarded under the law, we are free to live out our own faith.
Because we are no longer guarded under the law, we are free to be individual and tangible expressions of Christ’s ministry in our communities and in the world.
Because we are no longer guarded under the law, we are free to – regardless of the system or family we are born into – be acknowledged and loved as a child of God.
Because we are no longer guarded under the law, we are free to be active participants in our faith and in our faith communities.
Because we are no longer guarded under the law, our lives and our religious experiences no longer exist in black in white; they are lived out in vibrant colors.
Because we are no longer guarded under the law, we are called to be the hands, the feet and the face of Christ to the people that we meet along our journeys through life.
In the two psalms that we read this morning, the psalmist cries out to God and for God. “As a deer longs for flowing streams,” the psalmist analogizes, “so my soul longs for you, O God.”
“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God,” the psalmist cries out.
Boy, wouldn’t it be nice if we could all witness the living God here on earth, even just for one moment? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could finally get some answers to questions that have been asked and argued over for thousands of years? Wouldn’t it be nice to see palpable and immediate evidence of healing and answered prayers? Wouldn’t it be nice to know – once and for all – the difference between right and wrong and God’s true vision for creation?
The mystery of the divine is often quite frustrating. I think many of us – throughout our own lives – have shared a similar sentiment to the psalmist as he cried out to God and thirsted for a living God to come into his presence. We, too, thirst for God to come into our midst. We thirst for God to give us hope in our times of need; to give us wisdom in our times of uncertainty; to give us plenty in our times of want. We thirst for God to guide us when we are unsure of where the journey ahead will take us.
Is this thirst ever quenched?
The end of Psalm 43 reads:
O send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling.
The Psalmist ends his cry by asking God to send him God’s light and truth.
As a Christian, as someone living in a post-resurrection world, I think that it is hard not to read the ending of this psalm and think about Christ’s words in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” It appears – through the life and ministry of Jesus Christ – that God answered this cry, that humanity’s thirst had been quenched.
But what about now? Yes, Jesus experienced a resurrection following his death on the cross, but he himself, the tangible expression of God’s light and God’s truth, is no longer here with us on earth. How are we – day in and day out, year after year, within our own lives – supposed to quench this thirst for God’s presence?
Paul wrote to the Galatian people:
But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian,
for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.
As many of you as were baptized into Christ
have clothed yourselves with Christ.
Jesus called disciples to live out his work here on earth. Those disciples healed and taught, preached and witnessed. They quenched a thirst for a living God after Jesus’ death because they embodied who Jesus was and they became the living God.
And those disciples inspired the people that they met along their own journeys. They encouraged them – as well – to be disciples, to expand the Body of Christ and to bring the Gospel into a new generation. This new generation of disciples, too, became the living God.
Two thousand years later, we are still being called; called to be disciples, called to expand the Body of Christ and called to bring the Gospel to our generation. We are called to grow our nurture our churches, to reach out to the community and to – as Paul points out in this letter to the Galatians – to let go of the guards of the law and embrace the individual freedoms of our faith.
We are still being called to quench the thirst of those who long for God’s presence in their lives. We are still being called to become the living God.
We are the living God.
The true beauty of who we are called to be as faithful children of God lies in the multifaceted nature of who we are, both as the one who cries out for the living God and AS the living God.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus called upon men and women to join him in a radical ministry of hospitality, healing, unity and grace.
And two thousand years later, we are still being called. We are being called to be faithful and active members of this church. We are being called to give back, both of our time and our resources. We are being called to minister to our church, to our community, to our nation and to our world. We are being called to offer healing, hope and reassurance to those in need. We are being called to love one another and to pray for and with one another. We are being called to be humble and full of grace. We are called to be the living God in this generation.
Friends, because we are no longer guarded under the law, we are the living God.
And may our lives reflect our interpretations and our living out of the Gospel, of the Good News, throughout the world.
Thanks be to God!