A woman was driving through a school zone when a policeman pulled her over for speeding. As he was giving her the ticket, she said, “How come I always get a ticket, and everyone else gets a warning? Is it my face?” “No, ma’am,” said the officer. “It’s your foot.” Ah, we’ve always got something special about us.
Including the boy whose mom said, “Stop asking so many questions! Don’t you know that curiosity killed the cat?” “Really?” he quickly responded. “What did the cat want to know?” That’s curious.
It’s amazing how much we need to feel we have something special in us, that we’re valuable.
The greatest difference between people is not how much someone has or what they own or how smart he or she is. The biggest difference arises out of whether or not one really knows he or she is good, special, loved, lovable, or whether one is trying to get through life without this knowledge deep down.
If you’ve got it, then you’ve got everything. If you don’t, it really doesn’t matter what you have because it won’t be enough, you can’t enjoy it, or you’ll destroy what you have. If you’ve got it, you need nothing else. If you don’t, then you can have everything but it still means almost nothing.
Believe deep down you’re special. Hold on to God’s love for you, no matter what else you’ve experienced.
I don’t know if you noticed it but the great question, the big question this psalm asks was never answered. “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established—What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?”
This question isn’t answered. Is it because this is just a rhetorical question, a question that was never supposed to be answered? Or is it a question the psalmist would love to have an answer to but simply has never found it? Closer to the first—it’s purposefully left unanswered.
We hear the obvious amazement at the stars and the moon. The heavens, the physical sky that is, we know is astonishingly beautiful, if you ever get to see it on a clear night; it’s amazing immensity—and of course they had little idea just how immense it was as we do now but what this person saw was enough to feel overwhelmed; and the almost magical ability in would have seemed to them for these objects to stay in the sky. In other
words, how it could all be ordered and stay in order was a source of wonder for the psalmist.
The truth is we don’t look like much compared to those miracles of creation. We don’t last very long. We aren’t very strong. We aren’t impressive when compared to everything else. And yet, how does this psalm say it? What are human beings that you are mindful of them? Why?
But the answer never comes.
We don’t get the answer here because this is poetry. This is music—religious music. It’s not theology. It’s not a dissertation on the differences between the inanimate objects of God’s creation and humans or the spiritual creation we call angels and humans.
Why doesn’t Psalm 8 answer the question? Because to stand in amazement, to take some time to wonder, to let go of all the answers you have about life, to let go of being the one in control or trying to be in control of what goes on in your life and the world, to let go and be washed and rinsed and overcome with a religious feeling of how amazing creation and the creator is, well that’s just simply better for you many times than getting the answer!
Do you hear that? Be careful about thinking you’re only what your mind can understand? Be cautious about believing that all you can grasp as true is all that’s true. Practice wonder. Go into amazement mode. Let the splendor of God’s creation overwhelm you. Open up to greatness and glories of God, and see what that does for you.
For some reason Ariel the mermaid, King Triton’s youngest daughter, in enamored with humans. This isn’t explained in The Little Mermaid. Sometimes things just are. It is what it is sometimes in our lives.
For Ariel this is how it is. She wants to be human. She is amazed by us. She loves that we have legs and get to dance and can walk. But then she sees Prince Eric on a ship and that’s it. She’s done for. Now she’s in love with a particular human. She just has to become one of us.
A storm comes up and Prince Eric’s boat is struck by lightning, swamped by waves and he’s knocked overboard. He falls down through the water until Ariel catches him, rescues the prince in distress, and brings him to shore, where she sings him a song out of love for him and trying to communicate to him as he lies on the beach unconscious but coming back to life. When he wakes up, he flees back to the sea.
And now she will do anything to get to Eric, even a deal with an eight-legged sorceress who lives to makes bargains with unfortunate souls, and win of course, entrapping them forever in their shriveled shape inside her prison. Ariel accepts an almost impossible deal.
Now of course I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie, if there is anyone here who fits that category, but since it’s a Disney movie you can probably pretty much guess that somehow things work out. But for a while it looks pretty bleak.
There’s one line Ariel sings that sticks out for me: “Bet they understand, bet ya they don’t reprimand their daughters.”
Ariel is a bit of a Pollyanna when it comes to the human world. She suffers from a slight delusion we landlubbers express as the grass is always greener on the other side. Her dad probably wasn’t so terribly wrong to be angry at her at some point in her life. Real dads, good fathers, more than likely at some point will have to reprimand their daughters whether they live on land or swim underwater.
But more than that, Ariel believes our world is perfect and we’re perfect. It makes you wonder how well she really did.
The thing is, God is under absolutely no delusion about us—and still loves us. God has true love for humans in spite of the fact that every one of us, each of us, is broken. We are all equal in God’s sight not just because we are a little lower than angels but because the Lord knows we aren’t angels at all some times.
You see, God knows our brokenness, what ails us, our transgressions. He knows we need to be healed, not just from what we’ve done but what we have lived, and tried to live through. God knows even better than we do that there isn’t one of us who isn’t bearing a cross that’s too heavy for us, who doesn’t have a weight inside that’s more than can be carried successfully on our own. God knows we’ve each been crucified by life in some fashion.
If you want to have some idea of how God sees you, sees us, wherever you go and whoever you see, look at them again and picture them with a cross, picture them as broken, picture them needing healing.
I know we look like we’ve got it all together but it’s not true, is it? We can fool ourselves, fool those in our lives, but God knows the truth. And the truth is each one carries a cross right through the center of her or his life.
Here at this church we try to love everyone, and communicate that each of us and all of us are loved by God. We say, “Each Different, All Beautiful.” We are a one of a kind church for all kinds of people. We welcome everyone, no matter who they are or where they are on life’s journey.
We do this because we believe each of us is no better than any one of us. We believe we cannot judge others as less than ourselves, for it is only God who can judge between us. We believe in including all because we believe in a God who includes all, and because it is not our ministry to exclude any.
We offer the spiritual life of this church, our worship, fellowship, and service to all because it’s clear Jesus Christ lived this, taught this, died because of this, and was resurrected by this same power of all-encompassing love we believe is the God above all gods and Lord of all lords.
While we are not better than other churches, we live this truth, call it good news, and express it to as many people as we can. That this message is as vital, life-giving and life-saving today as any day cannot be overstated and mustn’t be forgotten. Our church, our good news, our message must be supported by us, believed in by us, and grown by us.
I have to tell you a story about what someone experienced, something perhaps you have also. He said, “Sometimes I go to monasteries for spiritual retreats and when I do I always go to some of the prayer services with the monks to pray the Psalms with them. Occasionally, I’ve also gone to the Mass.
One time I was at a Mass and when it came time for communion I went up to the front with everyone else and when I stood before the priest I knew from his disapproving expression (and a sign I read before the service) that it was not okay for me as a Protestant Christian to receive the body and blood of Christ so I passed through the line. The priest gave me a blessing, but I didn’t feel blessed.
I felt rejected at the communion table. The man representing God didn’t accept me. I wasn’t chosen. Of course, in my mind I understood the theology and I knew that I wasn’t actually being rejected, at least not by God. But I felt left out of the highlight of the service. That was the last time I went to a Catholic Mass. Over the years I’ve observed similar theological restrictions from a few different Evangelical Christian pastors.
This always feels wrong to me. Jesus died for anyone who comes to him for mercy. Anyone. It doesn’t matter your religion, denomination, church membership, or the sins you’ve committed. What matters is that you come to his communion table of grace in community with other Christ-followers and with a sincere heart that’s trusting in Christ alone to be saved from your sins.
This is a truth, the truth, that must not die out from among churches. There are so few churches left that truly live the good news that God’s grace in the church and at the communion table, which is the same thing, is open to all, and doesn’t exclude some.
I pray that you know deep inside your heart that Jesus wants you on his “A” team! There isn’t a single one of us who doesn’t belong with the Lord, who doesn’t have what it takes, who isn’t loved from above and accepted even though broken. Whether you know it or not, God knows you’re special. Always has and always will.
Can anybody say Amen?