If you like to watch this week’s worship service, you can do so here, or you can read the sermon below. The scripture is from Psalm 147:1-11. The video is full of beautiful imagery, music and prayer. I hope you’ll give it a chance.
Find the credits below.
Awaking to Beauty
That scripture passage is full of wonderful words – praise, pleasure, beautiful, rebuilds, gathers, heals, binds, lifts up, delights, hope in divine love. These words speak of a beauty to which we all need to be open.
Our opening words this morning, spoke of an awaking to beauty. In the midst of tears, of anger, of grief, of all sorts of difficulties we need to let ourselves be awakened to the beauty that is present in spite of all of that.
Would you please pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts and minds be acceptable to you, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
Unprecedented times… we’ve been hearing that phrase a lot lately. Honestly, I’m kind of tired of it. We know we are living in strange to us times… I don’t want to be reminded anymore!
But we are living in trying times, hard times, as Susan says, “We are living history right now!” It can be easy to just dwell on that, to leave our focus there. If we do, we can become depressed, scared, angry and so on. I hear people say a lot right now, turn off the news! Get off social media! They only feed the frenzy! And there is a lot of truth in that, though we do need to stay informed, so maybe we need to just limit our time with them.
Anyway, in the midst of all of this there is still a lot of beauty to be found, a lot life and hope.
My neighbor passed away recently and I was talking with her husband over the fence the other day. He was telling me about how he has been hearing from people he hasn’t heard from in a long time. As he talked I couldn’t help but say, “I always find it so interesting how in the tragedy of death and the sadness that surrounds it, God always seems place a little bit of positivity right smack dab into center of it all.” Families come together, reconnecting and sometimes even reconciling after years. Friends come out of the wood work to offer their love and memories. Suddenly we find ourselves smiling and maybe even laughing a little or lot as we share this time together remembering and loving. We are reminded that even in death, there is new life.
During this pandemic, we’ve been able to see some signs of this. Families have reconnected as we were forced to stay home to stay well. The family dinner and game nights had a beautiful revival for many! During this time many of us found new ways to connect with family that live far away. We called more often, we video chatted, so we could see how everyone is doing.
We’ve found new ways to worship and new ways to be the church. People who didn’t worship with us before in person, are now worshiping with us regularly online! People who only came to Sunday morning worship are now attending regular Zoom meetings through out the week! Some who didn’t attend every week before are now attending 3 times a week!
During this time of unrest, as we seek our way to a more just world, we see good and beautiful things happening. Oh, there’s some ugliness out there but we can choose what we want to see in this. We see groups – multi denominational, ecumenical, multi-racial – all coming together to pray for a better world, for a more just world. We see police officers reaching out and working with the community to try to make our communities safer. We see them dancing in the streets with protesters, kneeling with them, praying with them. We see protesters protecting police officers who get separated from the group. We see protesters bring the police and guard water as they stand in the heat. We see the world coming together to stop something that should have been eradicated years ago.
Yes, in each of these instances, there have been awful things happening – illness, suffering, death, loss, riots, misinformation, selfishness and the list goes on – but if we look closely, there has been a lot of beauty out there too.
As things closed down for a while, we saw the sky in cities that were usually covered in smog. We saw rivers and canals clear as traffic ceased on them. The sky has seemed extra blue and the clouds extra puffy to me. Nature is beautiful! I’m not gonna lie, I really don’t like the spiders I keep finding crawling on me or the table outside but their webs can be so beautiful with sun shining through them. The sound of the bird song, or the wind in the trees, the beautiful flowers in bloom in so many colors! They can lift our spirits, and speak straight to our soul.
Opening our eyes to beauty around us – in nature, yes, but also in the world in general – reminds us that there is so much more out there than just us. Beauty is there for everyone – rich, poor, black, white, brown, yellow, red, man, woman and everyone in-between. Beauty is free, look around and see it in the face of your neighbor, in the wagging tail of your dog, in the petals of the flowers or the streams of light from the sun, in the helping hand of a stranger, or the smile of a child. Let God’s beautiful creation, the beauty God sneaks into our everyday life, reach the depths of your soul and fill you with new life, with hope, and with divine love. Amen.
Worship and Liturgy
Adapted from www.worshipdesignstudio.com/beguiledbybeauty by Dr. Marcia McFee
“Hymn of Promise” words and music by Natalie Sleeth
© 1986 Hope Publishing Company
Used by Permission. CCLI License #11614350