The heavens declare the glory of God,
And the firmament shows God’s handiwork.
One day tells its tale to another,
And one night imparts its knowledge to another…
Psalm 19, one of my favourites, anchors the Prayers at Mid-day liturgy in the BAS. I was reminded of this on Tuesday, when a clutch of staff from 135 Adelaide joined together, via Zoom, for a time of reflection and prayer.
In the deep has God set a pavilion for the sun;
It comes forth like a bridegroom out of his chamber,
It rejoices like a champion to run its course…
The poet reminds us that the rhythms of everyday tell a story of love, of beauty, of glory to God. Like a champion runner, the sun set in the heavens by God travels the distance across the sky, providing warmth, light and life. And the sun rejoices as it trots along. Imagine the sun rejoicing. The word “firmament” reminds us that our biblical ancestors believed that the earth was flat, covered with a dome, with water above and water beneath the earth. We might dismiss such a simplistic understanding of the universe. Yet the James Webb telescope, launched on Christmas Day, will remind us of how much more we have to learn. The telescope will enable us to see some of the oldest and most distant parts of space, to earliest stars and galaxies. In a new way, one star and one galaxy will tell its tale to another.
In verses 7 through 10, Psalm 19 shifts from focusing on the glory and mystery of God’s creation to embracing the word of God that revives the soul, gives wisdom to the innocent, rejoices the heart, gives light to the eyes, endures forever. It is a word that a telescope may not be able to perceive entirely, that tells the narrative of God’s presence with us, in us and through us. It is a presence more precious than gold, sweeter far than honey, than honey in the comb.
In the midst of this fifth wave of pandemic, it is tempting to lose the thread of God’s narrative in us. It is easier to fall short of who we are called to be. It is simpler to give more attention to whether Novak Djokovic should play in the Australian Open than it is to provide housing for the poor. It is effortless to argue about whether a curfew works than it is to find ways of providing a guaranteed basic income. It’s tempting just to be grumpy and ornery and let somebody else play the part for a while.
And yet, you are here and I am here to play our part in the narrative that gives life, the story of our redemption in Jesus Christ. This pandemic will come to an end. It will. Don’t be discouraged, we are getting there. On our way, let us not lose sight of doing what is good… every day, like the Son, with rejoicing.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation
of my heart be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto