Reflections of the Spirit

Reflections from Spring Fast, 2007 (Part I)

Psalm 117 “ Praise the Lord, All Nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us; and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord! “ (RSV)

The Psalmist uttered words of praise and delight in the love of God. Jesus also must have repeated these words many times, and we can only wonder how great an impact they had on his understanding of who his Father was, and what messages of the Kingdom / Reign of God he was called to proclaim.

In Psalm 19 we pray; “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 throughout all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”

And in Psalm 148 we hear the Psalmist declare that all that God has made praises God , from the angels, the Sun and Moon to the people of Israel.

Everywhere in the books of the bible all that God has made is called to acknowledge and praise God’s love and goodness. And throughout all time, all beings have known the delight of God’s love.

The Sun and Moon praise God by being what the Word / Breath of God has made them to be. The mountains and valleys, the rivers and the skies, have echoed the songs put into their being by the Creative Word of God.

Yes, even humans, the two-legged nations have known the love of God and give thanks and praise. This has been so since the beginning of all things because all things were made by a loving WORD / BREATH of God which comes onto the earth from the Four Directions, and continues to blow and continues to give life and goodness throughout all times.

All creatures and all peoples in every part of the earth have delighted in the experience of God’s love and have raised their voices (Psalm 19) “with no speech and no words” reflecting back the goodness of God in prayers.

Most of Creation has no problem with prayers and worship of God – and does so by being what the Word of God made them to be. But now consider the two-legged nations; when it comes to us, we also are called to proclaim the goodness and love of God by being who we are. As peoples of diverse languages, of diverse geographies, of diverse economics, of diverse cultures we are called to be who we are. As a result, as the Psalmist of Psalm 117 expressed; all nations and peoples express their praise of God. There is not ONE holy language which speaks to God, but many. There is not ONE culture which shapes proper worship, but many. There is not ONE ritual, or ONE ceremony which expresses the outpouring of the human heart connecting to and pulsing with the heart of God, but many.

There is not ONE holy musical instrument to accompany the human voice raised in prayer, but many. There is not ONE gesture or dance which expresses the joy our bodies know in God’s love, but many. All expressions of God’s creatures give delight to God if they are true worship, if they are powered by the pulse of a pure heart.

We know that the most wonderful prayers spoken or sung are not heard by God unless spoken from the heart. Our cultures have evolved different ways to express what our hearts seek to say. All delight our God if they come from a loving heart which connects to our God, if they come from a heart which understands our true relationship with our God.

Today we live side by side with peoples of many languages and cultures, many ways of religious expression. No one can say that ONE language and ONE culture alone is acceptable to God. It is good and pleasing to our Creator for all of us to accept this diversity and respect the different paths to Creator.

Our Creator does not want all nations to conform to one language and one culture, to force one ritual and one prayer book on all.

Christians can do what they are called to be as followers of Jesus only of they understand that all nations already praise and exult the Lord. The Good News they bring to all nations is from the same Word of God who has been acting and loving and creating long before the two-legged nations ever came to be.

No one culture, no one nation, no one person is great enough to fully comprehend our God. No one religion fully expresses the truths of God. No one religion has found the one single way to worship.

It is the collective evil / sin of humanity that believes the Good News can only be proclaimed and expressed in the culture of the messenger. This has been especially so when the “messenger” has had economic, military or technological advantage over the other culture.

When there was this imbalance the “Good News” message became a hammer determined to reshape a people who already were “in the image of God” and who already worshipped God in truth and from hearts that already pulsed in harmony with the heart of God.

We need to see with new eyes and respond with new hearts – with eyes and hearts our Creator gave us and calls us to be.


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