Additives

HCC thanks Rev. Katherine Alexander for leading worship and bringing the morning message these past two Sundays!

Greg returns this coming Sunday. The posting of our recorded Sunday morning worship will also begin a week from today (July 20th).

Psalm 92

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
How great are your works, O Lord!
Your thoughts are very deep!
The dullard cannot know,
the stupid cannot understand this:
though the wicked sprout like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they are doomed to destruction forever,
but you, O Lord, are on high forever.
For your enemies, O Lord,
for your enemies shall perish;
all evildoers shall be scattered.
But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox;
you have poured over me fresh oil.
My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants.
The righteous flourish like the palm tree,
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
They are planted in the house of the Lord;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
In old age they still produce fruit;
they are always green and full of sap,
showing that the Lord is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.”   NRSV

An unintended common theme keeps surfacing in the scripture readings for the Thoughts for the Day. That theme concerns the sources from which we draw our insights and inspiration as followers of Jesus Christ. The language the Psalmist uses here is a bit pointed to draw these contrasts, deep thinkers and dullards.

Personally, I don’t believe I fall in either category. I would say the same for all the people who are part of the HCC extended family. Categorically stated, we are not “dullards.” We are persons who prize the pursuit of a deeper understanding of God, a deeper knowledge of who we are in our relationship with God, and, a deeper assessment of how God is calling us to live in the world. We have our moments of deep thought.

Today, our exposure to deep thinkers, dullards, and every kind of “thinker” in-between is like walking down the cereal aisle of a supermarket. The variety, the degrees of healthiness, the flavors, the contents, and the brands are endless. I mean, good lord, how many kinds of Cheerios does the world really need? But, look at the ingredients and you discover that just about every one adds sugar or a sugar substitute to make it more appealing. Even the whole-grain cereal producers know that without an appealing flavor, their oats or flaxseed or corn or wheat-based products won’t fly off the shelves.

The proclaimers of God’s Word know this, too. The flavorings these “experts” use come in many varieties: sin-soaked judgmentalism; justified racial prejudice; white male privilege; prosperity as the one true sign of God’s favor; patriotism (the kind dishonestly and dishearteningly equated with all the other aforementioned flavors); and, you can believe anything and be a Christian as long as you are nice about it (the watered-down, all-inclusive flavors of the more progressive varieties).

Without all the additives, that second and succeeding taste of true Christianity can be very unappealing because of what it truly requires. For many proclaimers, the kinds of sacrifices God requires is assumed to be too big a leap for those they are preaching to. So, they take the things God requires them to let go of, but can’t, and turn them into the additives they find appealing and convince themselves they are “of God.” Then, they try to convince the rest of us, too.

Everyone one of these varieties appeals to the self-interest of the one making the proclamation, myself included. To go deep in our thoughts of God, which is what God requires, is hard work. It requires sacrifice. It requires barbequing the “cows” we once held sacred. It is a journey that takes us from a focus on me, to a focus on Thee, to citizenship in the kingdom of the all-inclusive we-in-Thee. And, God invites everyone, everyone, on the journey. There is no first or second or tenth or boxcar class on this train bound for deeper thought in God. Everyone is equal and welcome in God’s eyes.

Those making the journey God requires will know they have arrived at the threshold of deeper thought and understanding of God when they know, in the very core of their being, the unifying power of God’s love and rejoice in the full and certain knowledge that we are all one in God. Then, when we can raise our voices with the Psalmist and sing,

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.”

Be a blessing to someone today!

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