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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 19

The heavens are telling the glory of God;
   and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
   and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
   their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
   and their words to the end of the world.

In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
   and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
   and its circuit to the end of them;
   and nothing is hid from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
   reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure,
   making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
   rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear,
   enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is pure,
   enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true
   and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
   even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
   and drippings of the honeycomb.

Moreover by them is your servant warned;
   in keeping them there is great reward.
But who can detect their errors?
   Clear me from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from the insolent;
   do not let them have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
   and innocent of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
   be acceptable to you,
   O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (NRSV)

I read Psalm 19 to a congregation gathered outside during a sticky July twilight in Parkville Missouri. It was 2002, and, as part of my first seminary internship I was given the church’s annual outdoor worship service to plan and lead.

I chose this as my text because of the obvious naturalistic elements: the heavens, the firmament, day and night, the sun. I decided to try my hand at extemporizing a sermon on the theme of nature as a locus of God’s glory and our response of wonder.

Seminary student + extemporizing = disaster.

It wasn’t the drone of “Um. . .” or the staccato “Like . . . like” that made it so unbearable. It was the train. Parkville rests on a slope above the bank of a pronounced northward jut of the Missouri River, where there is a lovely riverside park perfect for an outdoor worship service. But a freight train line sits adjacent to that same park, and just as I was drawing my deepest breath to pronounce the heavenly pronouncement of God’s glory, a BNSF freighter full of coal drowned me out. The sad irony of CO2-producing coal silencing such a pronouncement was lost on me until just now.

How good it is that earth and sky, sun and moon, proclaim God’s glory. Some of my experiences trying to make that proclamation have been less-than-glorious.

God of wonders, we praise you that we have the heavens for a companion in telling your glory and that your glory does not depend upon our skill in naming it. Nevertheless, may all we do be a proclamation of your goodness and glory, no less bright than the sun and no less broad than the sky. Amen.

Written by Rocky Supinger, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

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