Third Sunday after Pentecost – June 09, 2024

Posted on June 10, 2024, Pastor: Pastor Lara Forbes

Sermons are preached within the context of a particular worship service, and are most meaningful when experienced in that way. We encourage you to view or listen to the entire worship service. 

June 9, 2024

Third Sunday after Pentecost

Psalm 65

Worship Service Video Sermon Video Sermon  Audio

Sermon Text:

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable to you, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer. Amen.

Show of hands – for how many of you is your “happy place” a body of water? Which one? Shout it out. Online, put it in the chat. For me, it’s an ocean. Pick one. As long as I can walk the beach and listen to the waves, I’m in my happy place.

When you’re there, and this is true even if your happy place is in the mountains or the desert, but the theme for today is water so we’ll stick with that. When you’re near that body of water the chances are you feel connected to it somehow. It touches your soul. It reminds you that you’re part of something bigger. It reminds you that you’re connected to God.

And in that connection to God, we’re reminded that we’re not only connected to that body of water, we’re also connected to all of creation because it’s all woven together. In a very real sense, it’s a sacred relationship, a holy one.

That relationship is present in all of the scripture texts about creation, including our reading for today. This psalm is often read at Thanksgiving services. In the Jewish faith, it’s read during the fall festival of Sukkot. It’s a psalm of thanksgiving and praise for the abundance of God’s creation.

And it starts by locating God in the temple – the place where people believed they could encounter God directly. God was still big and everywhere, but the temple – the worship space – was the place where God was accessible.

So, this psalm gives a more personal connection, and the feeling that God leans in and pays attention to what people say. It orients the people toward God and invites them to be satisfied with the things God has given them.

And then it shifts, and the focus of praise moves to the role of God in creation. Water images are prominent because God’s salvation and deliverance include divine control of chaos – which is how water was thought of in ancient Israel.

And water can still be chaotic today. Think of any plumbing problem you’ve ever had to deal with. Right? When the water doesn’t cooperate, especially when it’s someplace that it shouldn’t be, it’s chaotic, isn’t it?

The first creation story in Genesis tells us that the first thing God did was control the waters. God separated the waters above from the waters below. God separated the water from the land. And in doing that, God created order out of chaos.

When all of this was first written, it was believed that the sky was a solid, translucent dome that God put up to hold back the waters above. The dome was propped up by mountains at the extreme ends of the earth, which was otherwise believed to be flat because the known world that that time was a small place.

And it was also believed that dome had windows or floodgates that God opened in order to make it rain or snow. So, when the psalmist speaks of God as “the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas,” that authority describes God’s control of chaotic waters.

And more than that, God uses water for God’s own good intentions. God converts the waters of chaos to an instrument of shalom – an instrument of peace and wellbeing – by producing grain to feed God’s people.

This is a beautiful and peaceful psalm. It paints a picture of an ideal world where God has provided everyone with what they need and they are satisfied with that.

And it’s tempting to rest in that image. But the world we live in today isn’t this way. Food and resources aren’t distributed equally. Water, especially, isn’t equal in all places on the planet, and we’re learning what that means for economies and food production and the places people live.

And as we think about all of that, in this psalm there’s a call for us to think about who we listen to. If we go back to the beginning of it, the image of going to God’s house and remembering who we are and the invitation to be satisfied with what God has given to us, we are shown humanity’s place in the world. We are reminded of the relationship between God and us and creation, and the dynamic and sacred nature of it.

And when we talk about caring for creation, that’s what we come back to. That relationship ought to be what anchors us and guides the way we live in and interact with our world. Because it reminds us that in creation, because of creation, we are always in God’s presence. We are always in a sacred place – a holy place.

And water is the foundation of this holy place.

We’ve all seen pictures and videos of the state of our planet’s waterways. We know that it’s affecting some places and people more severely than others. There are accounts of coastal peoples who have had to relocate after centuries of living in the same place because of rising sea levels.

The poorer nations in our world are the unwilling recipients of the garbage that circulates in our oceans and lands on their shores. Corporations have bought bodies of water for the purpose of bottling it and selling it – and, in the process, limiting who has access to it.

Knowing all of this, and knowing all of the work that needs to be done to turn things around, is overwhelming. And it can leave us feeling hopeless and wondering if it’s even possible. Especially living in the US with our economic system pushing us to never be satisfied, and to buy and consume more than we need, overtaking our relationship with creation and creating more pollution and waste.

But as Christians, in those moments of overwhelm and hopelessness, we remind each other that we come to new life in God through the waters of baptism. And through the promises made in our baptism, and that we affirm throughout our lives, we encourage one another in our call to work to make sure all of our siblings on this planet have access to clean and safe water for daily living.

Water has power, both in terms of its physical strength and in the strength of its necessity because it is necessary for life on so many levels. It has been here from the beginning. And through it, God nourishes the earth so that it produces food and gives creation all that it needs.

When we remind each other of that, as many times as is needed, our relationship with creation becomes a tangible part of who we are. And we live understanding that the planet on which we live is a holy place, worthy of care, simply because God created it.

And that in creation, God has given us what we need, and it is enough. Thanks be to God! Amen.