A Message from Pastor Matt

October 9, 2018

Church News

Dear St. Paul’s Family,

I stumbled upon a Psalm recently as I was flipping through the Bible that caused me to pause and think.  The 82nd Psalm imagines God holding court among the divine council.  As the Heavenly Hosts are gathered, God wonders:

“How long will you judge unjustly 

and show partiality to the wicked?

Give justice to the weak and the orphan;

maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.

Rescue the weak and the poor;

deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

(Psalm 82:2-4)

The Psalmist’s vision is powerful as he is imagining God’s judgement upon not only humanity, but upon the “gods” who are charged with keeping balance between the human players in this creative drama.  All is not well.  The balance is tipped as the powerful abuse their power.  Wickedness prevails as the weak and poor need rescuing, and the orphan and destitute require justice as their rights are being stripped away. Not only do the wicked seem to be in charge in this vision, but those charged with representing God’s wishes seem to have abdicated their responsibility.

God makes it clear at the end of the Psalm that all will be judged, even the heavenly judges who are charged with being arbitrators of humanity.  They have failed to be impartial and have sided with the wicked and powerful in their victimization of the powerless.  Their punishment will be that of the mortals, they will be judged by God and die.  They will fall like any prince (vs. 7).   The Psalmist concludes his thoughts with the plea:  “Rise up, O God, judge the earth; for all the nations belong to you!” 

Things are bad.  We can’t exactly be sure just what exactly is going on in the Psalmist’s world, except to sense that the covenantal contract between God and the people is being strained.  The ancient covenant between God and Sarah and Abraham:  “I will be your God and you will be a great people.” threatens to be undone.  God’s chosen kings, priests, and civic leaders have failed to uphold the basic principals of God’s kingdom.  They’ve exchanged the divine principals of justice, care, and deliverance for the poor, widowed, orphaned, and powerless for political power and personal gain.

The Psalmist’s plea for justice and righteous judgement on behalf of the victimized is a typical response of Old Testament prophets and of Jesus himself when faced with the unprincipled and un-Godly actions of religious and political leaders.  Not only does the Psalmist, the prophets, and Christ make clear that God is on the side of the powerless, but that God will humble the powerful in all times and places, in heaven and on earth.  In the end, God is the righteous and just arbiter of creation, seeing into the heart and through the intentions of every mortal and Heavenly Host.  

Jesus Christ changes a bit of the ancient narrative of judgment and redemption.  Through God becoming powerless as a human being in Jesus Christ, we mortals have become powerful.  Each of us are given a piece of the divine in the presence of the Holy Spirit.  We become entrusted with power to become arbiters of our own lives.  Not only can we choose between the paths of righteousness and evil, but we are called by our Savior to join in his reconciling work.  We are co-menders with Jesus, repairing the breach between God’s will for the world and brokenness of humanity.  Such mending is a high calling in which we align ourselves with God’s values, and just like the Psalmist, plead the case of the victimized and powerless to God and to those mere mortals in positions of power and authority.

The saving and mending work of Christ in which we are engaged causes us to draw nearer to one another and to God.  Let us find strength in our unity.  Let us work to make our community and world a more loving, more just, and more sacred place.   Let us reject the world’s narrative of division and tribalism that causes too many of us to find a morbid and curious joy in the suffering of those who are labeled the “other” or our enemy, such is not the way of our Lord.  And finally, let us be reminded that Christ is always with us no matter what course our lives take.  We are not gods, but Jesus Christ’s representatives and nothing can harm us in heaven or on earth. 

May God Bless Your Journey!

Pastor Matt

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