July 12, 2015
A father once told of how he took his family to the Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado to do some camping. As he told of the experience, he said that the sky seemed more brilliant than they had ever seen it and the stars were so close, it seemed as if you could touch them.
The father mentioned that his three boys decided that they would rather sleep under the stars than in a tent. As the man and his wife settled down for the night, their youngest came into the tent and dragged his sleeping bag with him.
When asked what was the matter. The boy answered, “I just never knew I was so small.”
And with our scripture text which is Psalm 8, and when we look at creation, we can be filled with awe and worship.
Please follow the liturgist in Psalm 8 Responsive Reading #743-744.
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth. Your glory is chanted above the heavens by the mouth of babes and infants: you have set up a defense against your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, and mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them little less than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth. This is the Word of God. Thanks be to God.
By way of background, Psalm 8 was written by David the shepherd boy who killed Goliath and later became king. He also wrote many of the psalms that we have in the Bible. But in this instance, I can almost picture him as he gazed up at the moon and stars; he pulled out his harp and began to sing:
O Lord our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.
You set your glory above the heavens.
When I consider your heavens the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars which you have set in place.
What is man that you are mindful of him?
What David had done in this psalm was worship. You see all of us are wired or have this universal or innate capacity to worship. It allows us to focus our hearts and minds on the Lord and whets our appetite for more of the divine. It defines who we are and what our purpose in life should be.
When David looked up into the heavens, what he saw were the fingerprints of the Lord God Almighty. And hopefully when we look up into the sky and gaze at all creation, we will be able to do the same.
Think of it this way. Science will take us to the outmost edge of the universe, but theology or the study of God or worship will take us beyond the furthest reach of the heavens, but to the dwelling place of God.
I am reminded of Genesis 1:1 which says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” and it is clear from this one verse that creation did not happen by chance.
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the US once said, “Every time I look into the heavens, filled with the stars, I feel I am looking in the face of God. And I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he can look up into the heavens and say there is no God.”
Though the current scientific thought seems to focus on finding other forms of intelligent life somewhere in our vast universe. But the real question ought to be, “Why is the earth in our universe so hospitable to life in the first place?”
Right after the time I retired from the military and the five months before I began to pastor a church, I took a part time job as an English as a Second Language Teacher’s Aide in a Junior High School in Hawaii. There was one class that I will never forget and it was the Frog Anatomy and Dissection lab.
The last time I had been in a dissection lab was when I was a sophomore in high school, but I was immature back then and fooled around too much and didn’t get much out of the classroom experience. But this time it was different.
And as I helped the students identify the different parts of the frog, along with its intricate functions, I began to see that this little creature was not an accident of nature, nor was it a random act of creation.
For example, a frog, among many things has a gall bladder, a heart, small and large intestines, and an esophagus. The urogenital system is highly complex. That is just scratching the surface, because there is much, much more. The lab took over a week just to cover the many areas. And as I worked with the students, something began to happen to me. I began to become in awe of what God had created and I whispered praises to the Lord.
Genesis 1:25 says: God made the wild animals each according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
A number of years ago, I was invited into a home where I was able to see a new born litter of beagles. These six little pups were about 2-3 inches long; their eyes were closed as they jostled each other to get milk from the mother. And when I watched all of this, all I could think was “How could anyone not believe in God.”
The same thing happened when I went to see some baby lambs that were just born. These little creatures were about a foot and a half high, black in color and wet as the mother licked them clean. The afterbirth still hung under the uterus of the mother. Again, my reaction was, “How could anyone not believe in God?”
For those who have been a delivery room in a hospital, know what I mean. The miracle of birth points to the existence of God. How can anyone not hold a baby and not feel God’s mighty creation. When my grandson Anthony was born 5 months ago, it was a very clear reminder of this.
There is a scripture that points to this:
Psalm 139:14-I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
When we see the glory of God in his creation, we can worship just as David did in the great outdoors, but if we do not have a relationship with Him or if we are not living right, we miss the glory of God and all it becomes is Mother Nature. In New Age circles, earth has a name and she is Gaia.
For many, worship is the once a week Sunday morning church experience. There are others who include daily Bible reading and prayer as part of worship experience as well.
Now you may be surprised at this. For me, the most meaningful part of the Sunday morning worship service is the Doxology, even though I change it up every now and then. But listen to these words:
Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise him all creatures here below. Praise him above ye heavenly hosts; praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
To me, that is pure worship when we can stand and sing praise to our Heavenly Father. Sometimes I will go outside and sing the doxology, which takes on new meaning. The doxology can be sung anywhere and anytime.
Like I mentioned in my first service with you, I see our relationship to God in three parts. 1. A faith experience. 2. Acts of mercy or compassion. 3. Sharing the gospel. But to keep all of these components fresh, we need to have worship where we connect and sense the Lord.
I know there are some who will tell you they can worship God in their boat on the lake or on the golf course, where they can experience God’s creation up front and I don’t dispute that. But I find the best time is when I have personal devotions unto the Lord in the morning and when I am in a church with other like believers.
There are many ways to worship, but the important thing is to connect. It doesn’t matter if we are in a formal or informal worship setting, if our hearts are right, we can find the Lord and be blessed.
On Sunday May 3, I was able to take some time off and come down from NH and I was able to visit several churches in the area. One memorable church service was at the Manchester UMC South 11:45 Contemporary Service. And before the worship service had begun, the people got their coffee, grapes, cheese and crackers and croissants and before you know it, the 45 or so people who were there, had their hands arms uplifted to the music of guitars and drums.
This past week, I decided to attend the Wednesday evening service of the Apostolic Christian Church. I knew I needed to get dressed up, so I put on black pants, a white shirt and tie and went. I sat on the left side where most of the men who wore dark suits.
Some of them were dressed like I was. And the ladies on the right hand side wore a black type of kerchief over their head. Without musical instruments, their voices blended into a sweet sound of praise to God.
I have been in a Quaker service where people just sat quiet in reverence to the Almighty. That too is acceptable worship that is communing with God in your hearts.
When David wrote, O Lord our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth, he did that as an act of worship. As children of God, we worship individually in our homes as we read the WOG and pray and we worship collectively in this church. It is good for us to get outdoors and see God’s creation in the night sky, on the lake, in the beauty of the colors of the seasons, to marvel at the creatures that roam, fly or swim. When we see God’s fingerprints, we can worship.
O Lord our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.