(thinking about Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18)
Since we canceled church due to the weather last week, and I really wanted to include the liturgy of remembering our baptisms, we'll be baptizing Jesus tomorrow. I did a little re-write on the sermon I posted here last week, but I'll preach it mostly as you saw it.
But I want to get back into a discipline of writing about all the lectionary texts each week, and I didn't want a snow day to become a snow week. I guess this was good thinking, except that this week's texts smacked me down repeatedly, full of things I need to consider or reconsider, right now.
Psalm 139 brings God almost uncomfortably close, which sounds like an odd thing to say, but perhaps I feel that way because my nightclub act, as my old friend K used to say about whatever a person couldn't stop presenting to the world, consists largely of stories about feeling disconnected, abandoned or unknown as I really am.
Psalm 139 laughs in the face of that attitude.
139:1 O LORD, you have searched me and known me.
139:2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far
139:3 You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.
139:4 Even before a word is on my tongue, O LORD, you know it completely.
139:5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
139:6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.
Such knowledge is too awe-ful for me! It is so overwhelming I cannot process it. Do I really want to be known that well?
Last night Pure Luck and I watched the newest episode of Battlestar Galactica, and I hope I'm not giving too much away by saying it was incredibly sad, so sad that when it ended I could not adjust my mood away from it, and everything else that crossed my mind for the next hour wore the shadow of that sadness.
(Let me say that Pure Luck rocks at dealing with a sad wife.)
At such times, I feel that longing to be known and appreciated as I am, that sense of being an alien in this world, that worry that nothing will ever come quite right again, that existential angst that asks whether my flawed life can possibly matter much at all.
I think this Psalm says "yes." It doesn't say:
God, you know me for I am wonderful!
The person in question is assigned no value beyond that of being alive. I find this challenging, because I am so accustomed to insisting on justifying myself by merit, a standard I would not apply to others but happily, ridiculously hold against myself, far too often.
I guess people have felt this way always, or no one would have thougth of writing such a psalm, a song sung to God to say "Thanks for knowing me!"
Thanks for knowing me, even when I feel low or even blue. Thanks for knowing me even when I was a secret.
139:13 For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's
139:14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
139:15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately
woven in the depths of the earth.
139:16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days
that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.
139:17 How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
Isn't it strange how even with our advanced knowledge of science we still love the idea of God knitting us together? And not just because of the knitting. I love the idea of being known even in that state, when my birth mother, frightened and hiding her pregnancy, pretended for a time that she was not pregnant. I love the idea of God having a hand in me then, and a hand on me now.
This is a new appreciation. I usually push away from this text. The notion that anyone knew or wanted me before my birth feels too raw and unsafe. But this week all these texts want to take me by the shoulders and say, "You are included in this! Even you!"
Even me. Thanks be to God, who knows me now and knew me then.