May 15, 2022 ~ Fifth Sunday of Easter ~ Rev. Beckie Sweet
Dr. Grace Terrell’s patient called with an unusual problem: her EKG that day had ruined her vision. But wait . . . heart exams don’t hurt eyesight.
Suppressing her amusement, Dr. Terrell realized her patient’s problem must be caused by anxiety. She prepared to thoroughly investigate any potential connection between anxiety and a sudden change in eyesight. She reviewed the patient’s records and was about to telephone her—when the nurse walked into her office, laughing.
The patient had called back to sheepishly confess that when she left the exam room, she had grabbed the wrong eyeglasses from the counter!
Faced with an anxious patient, Dr. Terrell showed compassion and wisdom. She didn’t ridicule. She listened, took the complaint seriously, and gave it some time. We too can practice compassion and wisdom every day. It’s the high calling of our daily activities and interactions with others.
The psalmist sings, Our God, “The Beloved is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. Gratitude and quiet joy overflow as I recall the abundant blessings of your grace!” This is one of my favorite psalms because it stirs up the kind of thoughts and feelings about God that I want to have every day. Imagine starting each day with the reading of this psalm, or even just the first couple of verses.
My soul yearns for You, Eternal Flame of Love,
Longing to reconnect to the Great Mystery,
Every day I will bless You as I follow the Voice of Truth.
Great are You who call us to childlike wonder,
To the healing balm of forgiveness.
We might think that people living 3000 years ago, without indoor plumbing, or media, or cars, or the conveniences to which we are accustomed, would live a pretty drab existence, without much happiness. But David and those who sang these psalms, experienced a level of happiness in God that many today do not have, but desperately need.
Nothing lifts my spirit and brings joy to my heart like blessing, extoling, praising, and worshiping God together. It has not been that long since we were unable to come together for worship due to the pandemic. Do you remember how your soul yearned to join others in worship in this sacred space? Worshiping and praising the God who created us to be a family of faith feels like God is breathing joy into our hearts with divine presence. Because, when we praise God, something mysterious happens ~ often in our circumstances and ALWAYS in our hearts. Walls come down, problems are put in proper perspective, darkness turns to light, hatred is vanquished by love, and healing takes place. Depression, fear, and anxiety are covered and our souls are revived as we magnify and glorify God.
Now that does not mean that we won’t have low and challenging seasons in our lives. We all experience that. And we all need inward revival daily. There is nothing like praising God, especially out loud in the company of the faithful, to restore our spiritual joy.
We’ve all been around fanatics. Maybe you are one! My grandfather was a fan of the Atlanta Braves. My son, Daniel is a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles. I am a fan of Syracuse University basketball. And then there’s the Bill’s Mafia!! Engage with fanatics in conversation and you will hear descriptions of game-winning plays. You may hear about questionable officiating or suspect decision-making on the part of a coach or manager. You may even get a healthy dose of team and individual statistics. Most fanatics are consumed with their favorite sport, at least during the season and pre-season.
Others may be fanatics about antique cars, or music, or art, pets, politics, astronomy, health, nature, and the list goes on. Whatever their passion, they talk about it quickly, enthusiastically, and repeatedly to anyone who will listen. For some, any conversation can be turned to focus on their favorite subject.
There is nothing wrong with being passionate about any of those subjects within proper limits. And as those who have experienced the grace and love of our Savior, I wonder what a difference it would make if we spoke of our faith as enthusiastically as we speak of our favorite sports team. GOD FANATICS! That’s what they may call us! JESUS FREAKS! Remember that title? Oh that we would be always ready to talk about God’s greatness, grace and goodness. Everywhere we look, we should see and hear, smell and taste, feel and experience evidence of God’s creative glory. And experiencing that should spill over into endless praise. If that were the case, just think of the strides we would make toward wholeness in our lives ~ toward that abundant living that Christ promised his followers.
The faith responses suggested by this psalm of praise have the capacity to work within us both personal and social transformation. By helping us to remember what it means to be human, by giving us the courage to walk a path of life with a heart of faith, and by inspiring us to take collective action toward bettering the world in which God has placed us, all add to the blessings that God has designed for us to experience.
Commentator Paul Myhre states, “Psalm 145 unleashes in a flourish of winged words, theological reflections about the activity of God in the world, dimensions of the scope of God’s powers, and bird’s eye views of relational contours between the people of God and God.”
So, what does it mean to contemporary people of faith to go about daily activity mindful of the abiding presence of God? How might we be more intentional about observing God’s presence and activity in every minute way? Our language often fails us as we endeavor to describe the fragrance of the lilacs as they open, the taste of Linda’s pistachio pudding, the beauty of the trillium on the forest floor, the feeling of sinking one’s fingers into Jacques’ angora rabbit hair, the iridescence of sunlight on the starling’s feathers, the sound and culmination of worship in Caleb’s postludes.
So try this exercise. Describe the visual beauty of God’s creation, such as the beckoning blue water of Cayuga Lake, to someone who is blind. Create a metaphor for the flavor of a warm apple pie for someone whose sense of taste has been compromised. Make the vibrations of music come alive for those who cannot hear. Hold the hand of someone who so desperately needs to be reminded of the healing power of human connection. And use every means possible to convey praise for the God in whose creation and glory we reside.
Praise, blessing, and exaltation comingle in Psalm 145. Expressing that with exuberance brings joy even on a difficult day. Thanks be to God! Amen.