The Rev Josephine Robertson
All Saints, Bellevue
September 8 2019, Proper 18C
Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17
It has been a long, hot summer. Not just because it has been humid, and sticky. The news has been hot as wildfire, intense and dangerous. To be informed is perhaps to feel helpless, powerless to change the suffering and destruction that seems to rage all around us.
Our lectionary has been an unending reminder that the world is not how God intended it to be. That the things we take for granted: poverty, suffering, division, aren’t inevitable but human created and sustained. The weight might seem too much, pile on all the ills of our human society on top of personal suffering, sickness, sorrow and we might just feel like brittle kindling about to light.
Lord, you have searched me out and known me; *
you know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
Like a cool breeze on a breathless summer day the psalm reminds us whose we are, all of us human beings.
You trace my journeys and my resting-places *
and are acquainted with all my ways.
God knows, God stands in that forest fire with us, feels the heat and the stinging soot, tastes the despair. Wherever we go, God was there before us. Wherever we stop, exhausted, God is already there arms spread wide to welcome us. Our opening collect reminds us weekly that from God, no secrets are hid.
Indeed, there is not a word on my lips, *
but you, O Lord, know it altogether.
The psalmist reminds us that God knows us, not our Facebook profiles, or our scrubbed up Christmas letters but the way we are, every day. God knows us, down to the unkind things we say about other drivers in the privacy of our cars and yet, the moments inside our own heads when we despair, or rage. There God is, still waiting like a parent who cannot wait for their preschooler to come running up the driveway.
You press upon me behind and before *
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; *
it is so high that I cannot attain to it.
When I think about the damage we humans have done, to one another, to the world that was entrusted to us I think it would be easier to believe that God was furious, angry, vengeful. It would make more sense that we needed to be saved from a God who was ready to grind us into dust. But instead we have this Divine one, Ancient of Days, close as our own skin.
This God, like my Grandmother rocking quietly, crochet hook flashing as she made hats for cold heads, mittens for frosty fingers, scarves that dewed with my breath when the cold was dangerous. God who made me, you, all of us bit by bit. Knitting cell to cell, and bits of soul to it all until there was this human being who is you, who is utterly unique, and needed and loved.
For you yourself created my inmost parts; *
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I will thank you because I am marvelously made; *
your works are wonderful, and I know it well.
Marvelous, wonderful. Perhaps you need the reminder today that your body is wonderous, marvelous. Not because it is perfect or has never failed you, but because you and it are loved, made to reflect this God who sits down and dreams up creatures capable of love and hate, creation and destruction, beauty and horror all in fragile flesh.
My body was not hidden from you, *
while I was being made in secret
and woven in the depths of the earth.
And none of it, none of it escapes the vision of our God. None of it drives God from us. Just as we are. Fallible, fleshy, passionate, broken, beautiful, and beloved.
Your eyes beheld my limbs, yet unfinished in the womb;
all of them were written in your book; *
Our names, our parts, all of us written down in heaven’s book. There is our hope that cannot be shaken. Flood waters, raging wind, human violence, none of those things can remove our name from the book of life. It was inscribed there before we were a dream it remains there long after our bodies have finished their service.
And this is the wonder of the human/Divine story. That through it all, through war and famine and genocide, God does not give up. Everything weathers away to nothing except for the faithfulness of God. You and I might never, really, understand. Our lives our too short to even make a start at understanding Divine logic, at even taking a shot at understanding God.
But here we are.
Still, after all is said and done, we are not abandoned.
We are not alone.
When I taught Godly Play we would share a story about God with the children, and then instead of telling them what it meant we would ask “wondering” questions.
I wonder what it would be like for each of us, and all of us, to live like we knew we were beloved, pursued, wanted, loved?
I wonder, what would you do if you knew God was waiting for you with eager open arms?
If you knew in your bones God had been chasing you your whole life?
That God knew everything and still, still wants you?