Each Fall I feel as if I should preach about the amazing beauty of the season. This Sunday, with Psalm 8 and the reading from Hebrews, it seemed to “fall” into place.
Psalm 8 is a beautiful Psalm of praise to God for the world God has created. Whenever I read it, I can’t help but remember how this Psalm became seared into my memory.
Back in the days when I was a Senior at Luther Seminary, we had to write a Senior paper about our theology. We then had to defend it to our advisor and one other faculty member. My advisor knew me quite well, but the other faculty member didn’t know me. He was in the pastoral care field, but I hadn’t had any classes from him. So, I was quite nervous about the big interview. These two people had the authority to approve or not to approve me for graduation and ordination. I didn’t want to mess up with them.
In the course of the interview, the pastoral care professor got started asking me what Bible verses I would use in various pastoral care visits. You know, ‘if you were visiting someone who was sick in the hospital, what Bible verse would you use? If you were visiting someone who had just lost a loved one (in various circumstances) what would you use? I did just fine for a while, but he kept on, and on. Finally, he asked “What would you use visiting a young couple who just had a baby?” My nerves and fear got the best of me! I was plumb-out of ideas! I just went blank. After some very awkward moments, he said, “Psalm 8 is what you should use.” I readily agreed, and breathed a sigh of relief, hoping they didn’t think my Bible knowledge was suspect.
When you have something like this burned into your mind, you naturally ‘pull it up’ out of your memory banks. But Psalm 8 is so beautiful in itself that it overshadows some of those memories. Looking at the colors of the trees, the bright blue fall sky, and now the green that is reappearing, we can easily give thanks to God.
Psalm 8 finds us on the heels of a difficult week. With Covid numbers on the rise, with uncertainty about the future, with huge national issues facing us, with losses personally and corporately that keep coming, we have a lot to deal with. Our MJ team made the difficult decision to wait until next year for our mission trip because of safety issues and Covid numbers rising in Jamaica. Worker shortages have caused delays in shipping, filling orders, and empty shelves; restaurants that can’t find workers are doing drive-through only. The country seems to be in a state of confusion and uncertainty. We need a diversion and a reminder that God is still with us and is our mighty Creator. God is our Lord and King who is still intimately involved in creation. God has given humans dominion over the things on the earth.
This is one of those psalms that brightens our outlook on life when we slow down and think about what it says. God has given us an amazing world, a beautiful world, to tend, nurture, enjoy, and work. God has blessed us with amazing scenery, with fertile ground on which to grow food to feed the world, and all sorts of living things to enjoy and to sustain us.
Our 2nd lesson from Hebrews builds on this by connecting Psalm 8 with the ways God continues to work in the world He has created. In the days of old, God spoke to people through the prophets who brought God’s word to the people. Now, God has sent His only Son who has powerfully broken the grip of sin and death for us and has given us forgiveness of our sins and New Life in the resurrection on Easter.
God, Hebrews states, has crowned humans with glory and honor, subjecting things on earth to us. God has blessed us and made us His own, as He also put humans in charge of caring for the earth.
God gave us a Savior in Jesus who came to live among us and know life as we know it. He suffered and died for us so that we might know the power and joy of the New Life with Him in heaven.
All these blessings God has given humans. The writer of Hebrews goes back to Psalm 8 to remind us of the blessing of God. With all the power, glory, and majesty of God, these two passages ask the question: “what are human beings, that you even take notice of them; what are humans that you even care about them?
Looking at the sky at night out here in the country away from the bright lights, we get a glimpse of how small and seemingly insignificant we could be. The universe is so vast and unchartered. We know only a small portion of it, and yet this God created us and has given us so much to know, enjoy, and use. In spite of all this, God, Jesus has said, knows every hair on our heads. He knows when every sparrow falls to the earth. He loves us and has blessed us with all that we have.
We may have have some huge problems in the world around us; we may be filled with uncertainty and even confusion. But one thing is for certain: we have a God who loves us and has given us blessings beyond what we could ever imagine. This God knows us; this God died for us. This God has redeemed us and made us His own beloved children.
Let us praise this God, our God, for all that He has done for us!