In the words of Maya Angelou, “Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances.”
It seems to me, that in this moment the whole world has lost sense of any kind of shared beat. The pandemic changed our daily rhythms for living. Staying home, isolating from others has forced us to keep a safe distance. It’s changed how we work, how we learn, how we show up or not, and how we interact. A trip to the grocery store is calculated. A walk with a friend feels awkward as we try to keep six feet apart. “School’s out for the summer” — just doesn’t have the same freeing ring to it.
Add the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent social unrest, protests, destruction and violence, and we find we’re living in chaos at a level of intensity that few of us have ever experienced. It doesn’t feel like anyone’s dancing to me.
It feels more like frenetic scrambling — too much to get our arms around all at the same time right now — so much grief, fear, anxiety, uncertainty, stress. There’s dissonance too, between the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and what we’re uncovering about reality. There’s more listening and more learning we need to do — which leads to more discoveries, more questions and less answers. And everything we’re experiencing is different for each of us at any given moment.
The weight of all this is more than any one person can carry. So lean into the strength of being community as we pray, support, wrestle and discover together how God is at working in us and all around us to create something new.
I’m grateful that a couple of months ago the worship planning team landed on Psalm 8 for tonight’s reading. It’s part of the common lectionary for Holy Trinity Sunday, which was this past Sunday. Holy Trinity Sunday is the only Sunday in the church year that focuses on a particular doctrine, and as Ben pointed out in his sermon a couple days ago, it’s a doctrine the church likes to talk about but doesn’t really understand. Nor should we.
We attempt to describe God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier, three-in-one and one-in three. But there’s no way to adequately describe God. Our every attempt falls short. The moment we think we can or we think we have is the moment we create God in our image. This shouldn’t keep us from describing our experience of God. Jesus teaches how to do this.
When Jesus spoke about God and God’s kingdom, he told stories. Sometimes stories leave people with more questions than answers but stories also hold space for mystery, multiple meanings and divine connection. At the heart of God as Holy Trinity is the truth that God is most fully known in relationship. And that’s good news for us, good news for creation.
Psalm 8 is an ancient song. It’s poetry, not prose. It’s one of several creation accounts in the bible. The most well-known are in Genesis 1 and 2, but there’s also a creation account in Job 38, if you want to look it up after the service. There’s another creation account in John’s Gospel. It’s how the writer starts the story: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”
Every creation account reads poetically, rhythmically. We don’t get specific details about how things came into existence. Scripture gives us the who and the why and the beauty of interplay. The creation accounts provide a particular lens; they offer a certain rhythm for finding your way in and through the world and Psalm 8 does too.
salm 8 begins and ends with the refrain: “O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” All life begins and ends in God. God is Creator. God is the one who creates something from nothing, who brings order out of chaos. God is sovereign, Lord of all. The rhythm for living is born from God and established in God.
Look up at the moon and stars at night and we find ourselves standing alongside generations of saints who marvel at the wonder and mystery of creation and our place in it. It’s expansive. It’s impressive. It’s unimaginable. The awe and wonder begs the existential question that the Psalmist sings: “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? [and] yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.”
And yet… we are so small. And yet… not insignificant. You matter to God and God extends an invitation to all humankind to be partners in the holy work of caring for, tending to, and co-creating with God.
All life begins and ends in God.
We’re created in the image of God.
We are not God.
These truths are necessary for us to be in step with God. Every time we lose sight of them, we mess with the divine order of things.
We know, we’ve messed with God’s intended rhythm. We are learning in new ways how systems in our culture have kept our siblings of color from participating fully in the rhythm of holy living. We’re learning how our silence has been an act of violence; how our complicity has contributed to perpetuating systems of injustice. The current discord is another wake-up call for us to hear the cries for racial justice and to change. It’s not the first one. But I’m hopeful that this time we’re listening in new ways, that we’re showing up with an openness to name our sin, to repent and to pursue a new way of being that honors and gives space for all to dance and breathe.
I was listening to Richard Rohr the other day and heard him say that creation is the first incarnation of God and Jesus is the second. In Jesus, God established a certain beat that never stops, one that conquers death, fosters hope, and is the source and force for something new to be born. This is the story we return to again and again, the promise of new life that we receive in humility and boldly live out in faith.
This divine rhythm moves in and through you, even if in the chaos of these times it feels faint or far away. God is close. Jesus has promised: you are not alone; he is with you to the end of the age.
I want to invite you to find your pulse right now — fingers on your wrist or neck or hand over your heart. Be still. Listen. Breathe. Feel the beat of your heart. In these trying times, when chaos seems to rule the day and night and it’s hard to know a good next step — be still. Listen. Breathe. Feel your heartbeat. Return to the truth that God is the author and source of all life. Give honor and praise to God in whom life begins and ends. Your heartbeat is God’s rhythm for life moving through you.
Be still. Listen. Breathe. Feel the beat of your heart. Remember that this same beat echoes in the heart of every human being.
All humanity is created in the image of God, a little lower than God, invited to partner with God in the holy work of creating a universe that dances to the tune of healing and love.
The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.