A DIARY OF DAILY PRAYER
19 May 2020
Opening Sentences (responsive) (from Psalm 8 – Stephen Mitchell)
Unnamable God, how measureless is your power on all the earth and how radiant in the sky!
When I look up at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the multitude of stars,
What is man, that you love him…and woman, that you gladden her heart?
Yet you made us almost like the angels and crowned us with understanding.
How terrible is our power on all the earth!
Prayer for Illumination
Illuminating God, by the power of your Holy Spirit, reveal to us through these words the wonder of your grace…and the wonders that we are. Amen.
Scripture Reading Psalm 8
SOME THINGS TO PONDER AS YOU READ THE PASSAGE:
Why does the God of the universe…the God who created the heavens and the earth…the God who knows every swirling planet and star and asteroid intimately…the God who with a thought created life from no life…the God who holds all of life together – why does such a powerful God bother with the likes of us?
Psalm 8 has us ponder this remarkable aspect of God’s loving and preposterous providence.
This psalm is first and foremost a hymn of praise to God. It also provides a clue to who we are. We are the ones upon whom the larger-than-life sovereign God bestows glory, honor, and dominion.
What Psalm 8 does for us is to frame any statement we make about ourselves with strong statements about God. The psalm begins and ends by declaring – “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” God’s majesty, then, serves to bracket and qualify every statement we make about ourselves. Who and what we are must stand in the shadow of God’s sovereignty. Human glory, honor, and dominion are derivative.
With these thoughts as background, consider the text.
READ TEXT: Psalm 8
1 O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. 2 Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger. 3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; 4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? 5 Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. 6 You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, 7 all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. 9 O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
God, brilliant Lord, yours is a household name. Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you; toddlers shout the songs that drown out enemy talk, and silence atheist babble. I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous, your handmade sky-jewelry, moon and stars mounted in their settings. Then I look at my micro-self and wonder, why do you bother with us? Why take a second look our way? Yet we’ve so narrowly missed being gods, bright with Eden’s dawn light. You put us in charge of your handcrafted world, repeated to us your Genesis-charge, made us lords of sheep and cattle, even animals out in the wild, birds flying and fish swimming,
whales singing in the ocean deeps. God, brilliant Lord, your name echoes around the world.
According to Stephen Hawking we now think our galaxy is only one of some hundred thousand million that can be seen using modern telescopes, each galaxy itself containing some hundred thousand million stars. We live in a galaxy that is about one hundred thousand light-years across and is slowly rotating; the stars in its spiral arms orbit around its center about once every several hundred million years. Our sun is just an ordinary, average-sized, yellow star, near the inner edge of one of the spiral arms.[i]
Did you know Psalm 8 was the first biblical text to reach the moon. When the Apollo 11 crew fired their rockets and left the moon, they left behind a silicon disc containing messages from 73 nations. One of those messages was this psalm.[ii]
Who are we that the God of such a universe should be mindful of us? Who are we that this God should care that mortal creatures grieve and fear and hunger and regret and suffer? Who are we that the God who knows the number of hairs on every living creature should desire our conversation, our community, our fidelity, our adoration, and our service?
My friends, the answer to who we are has to do with God…the God whose nature is to give love and life. Through his Son and his Spirit, God gives to us faith which is about a state of being – a place into which we may step, a room we may enter, a power on which we may lean, a love to which we may commit. This gift of faith is an invitation to meet God, to belong to God, and to build our lives around God.[iii] This gift is a call for us to look upon all of life as an opportunity to praise and worship God.
Cause our breathing to cease, O Lord – if we do not acknowledge the gift of our every breath. Cause us to stop thinking, O Lord – if we suppose wicked thoughts are planted in us by an evil spirit…but good, kind, and pleasant thoughts are of our own making. Cause our ears to be shut, O Lord – if what we listen for is gossip instead of that which is good about others. Cause our mouths to become mute, O Lord – if the words that fall from our lips bestow anything less than life and light. Cause our hearts to stop beating, O Lord – if anything but goodwill flows through our veins and into our actions. Cause us to be turned to stone, O Lord – if awareness of your love does not cause us to gasp, to lift open hands, to blush and stumble, to laugh and dance. Amen.
Blessing (responsive) A Celtic Blessing
Deep peace of the running wave to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace of the shining stars to you,
Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you.
[i] Hawking, Stephen W. 1988. A Brief History of Time. Toronto: Bantam Books, 37.
[ii] McCann, J. Clinton. Jr. 1996. The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. IV. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 711.
[iii] Spoto, Donald. 1998. The Hidden Jesus. NY: St. Martin’s Press, 170.