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  • Writer's pictureRobert John Andrews

Reflection: Socks




June 4, 2023

10:30 AM

Sunbury

“Socks”



How are you with scary movies? Zombies, giant ants and killer shrews, aliens, and vampires. Can’t say for sure about aliens or beasties or zombies, but there are vampires out there, pointy teeth and thirsty for the blood of precious humanity and transform us into their servants. “I vant your blood!”


It’s a scary world of too many Count Draculas: pressures, commercials, social media, trying to tell us what to think about ourselves. Let us tell you who, what you are, how you should believe – wanting us to become the living dead, isolated, lonely, miserable, defeated, forlorn.


Nope!


File down their fangs.


Psalm 8 here sends us a very clear warning between verses of praise. God help us when we determine our self-worth – or even and more important, the worth of others – on the basis of things less than ultimate: material possessions, power, employment, skin, party affiliation, beliefs, bank account.


File down their fangs.


From the divisive and humorless, the pretentious and hostile, the judgmental and disrespectful.


File down their fangs.


The Bible has something better to offer you these Dracula days. Let’s savor this Psalm of Joy and Praise, full of holy emotion. Boy, can we use what it sings.


O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens. 2 Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.


God bless the wisdom of babes and infants. All the words of all the clever people pale before the unassuming, unpretentious joy of children at play. All the smarmy, smug commentary of the clever bounce off their laughter and delight, their innocence and trust, the way waves crash heedlessly off the rocky shoreline.


If you have ever traveled you may have noticed how the laughter of children is always the same wherever you go. God bless them.

3When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; 4what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals* that you care for them?


What is up there in the night sky tonight? June brings the summer solstice: June 21, 10:58 AM..

Ursa Major (the Great Bear) completes her circuit, for we find her due west of Polaris, the last star in the handle of the Little Dipper. All the constellations pivot around Polaris through the year, it’s the axle of the sky.


What’s also pretty cool about all these constellations is how they appear to us as two-dimensional, as if painted on one flat surface. In reality, they are three-dimensional. Kochab, the brightest star in Little Dipper’s bowl, is 131 light years away. Polaris is farther away at 323 light years away.


The treat of the summer sky (actually the treat within a treat within a treat) now sparkles and twinkles bright to the east: Cygnus the swan flying straight toward the east and parallel to the horizon, the swan’s long neck outstretched and its wings bent in corsair flight. The stellar star Deneb marks the end of its tail. Deneb also marks the top of the Northern Cross you can trace within the swan. Cygnus neck now becomes the stake of the cross and its wings form the crossbar. The cross overlooking the earth. And what scares off vampires? The cross of Jesus.


Psalm 8 shows the Hebrews poking fun. These celestial sights are not deities themselves, as most other religions believed, but part of the grandeur and glory of God’s creation. An awesomeness and wonder that humbles us. Nature doesn’t so much reveal God as reminds us of our place, nudges us that we might search out for the revelation in the Word.


The first tendency is to feel insignificant. But that is not where the Psalm takes us. On the contrary:


5Yet you have made them a little lower than God,* and crowned them with glory and honour.

We are precious. This is how precious you are to God. Let no vampire bite you otherwise. Jesus kissing our wounds. We affirm how our knowledge of God sheds light on the nature of humankind. Not the other way around. We are part of God’s creation; God is not part of ours.


And therefore. belonging, we have responsibilities, duties:


6You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, 7all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, 8the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.


We could leave off here, boasting how wonderful we are, But we can only end as we begin, acknowledging that that which we call God alone is worthy of praise.


For God wants life to make sense. Even when it seems chaotic, threatening, or disorderly, something new emerges. Nature seeks balance, equilibrium, in the midst of dynamic change, even amidst catastrophe. Humans disrupt. We foster imbalance. But God can even bring forth good from the imbalance.


Our granddaughter loves watching the Disney movie, Moana, which came out years ago. Our little Eve finds the heroine of the story inspiring. Although she get afraid at the ending with the fight with Te Ka, Te Ka throwing lava stones and angry. What Moana figures out is Te Ka is angry because her heart was stolen. When Moana returns her heart, Te Ka becomes Te Fiti, the goddess of life and fertility. Fire becomes vegetation and life is restored.


Fantasia 2000 does something similar to the music of the Firebird Suite. There is a violent volcano that erupts in the northwest wilderness. Devastation. But wait. The Sprite, nudge awake by an Elk, emerges and the flowers and green grasses return.


Fact and hope, hope and fact. The extinction event of the dinosaurs gave us the surprise of birds. No more T-Rex’s stomping around but lots of fluttering finches.[1]


One of my dear friends died of liver cancer. He beat it for ten years. His best ten years: mission trips to Honduras, teaching the High School Sunday School, umpiring the ball teams. He didn’t like his cancer, oh no. But he said to me that this cancer got him sober. He joined AA. He became a better husband, a better father, a better friend.

9O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!


Only our Lord is sovereign. Nothing else. No one else. All creation circles around our Lord.


Listen please to Paul’s words to the Corinthians: II Corinthians 13:11-13


11Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell (or rejoice). Put things in order (katartizo – to set right, mend, strive for perfection), listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.


13The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.


These are Paul’s final words to a congregation struggling – they were a mess. Most of his letter which we call II Corinthians is a collection of several letters stitched together, Paul’s answers to their questions and confusion, their conflicts and arguments. Him trying to help them find balance. Tough to walk forward when out of balance.


Paul and Psalm 8 -- we worship a God not of chaos but order. Not a God of confusion as Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians (I Corinthians 14:33).


Put things in order, as God intends.


And God, by the Word of God, tells us how, shows us how.


Maybe that’s why silly us are back fussing over the Ten Commandments and classrooms. A two-dimensional reaction to life feeling out of control, disappointing, vampire scary.


Well, we Presbyterians historically object to any door being opened to religionists to impose their particular version of faith. There are versions of Christianity I’d never want delivered in any classroom as an authoritative prayer, just as some Christians might find blasphemous (so I’ve been told) what I’d pray.


You want the Ten Commandments? Come to church. Open your Bible. Better than posting them is showing them by living them. Hey, I want what she has, he has…


Now, being mischievous, it might be frolicking fun for us to campaign that the Sermon on the Mount be posted in classrooms, since the Sermon on the Mount brings into full spiritual flower the incomplete law of the Ten Commandments.


The Sermon on the Mount really is God’s way at its most practical and sensible in a world that is neither.

~~~


Precious and beloved. Sense and sensibility. Ardor and order. That’s the Presbyterian catch-phrase. We’re quite fond of passion. Scottish, after all. But passion let loose can cause big problems. We like water, but floods can be a problem. We like fire, but house fires can be a problem. Where’s the balance?


Passions are wonderful, transporting, but when reckless, unchecked, passions act like an untrained Pit Bull. The age old tension in the church between ardor and order.


John Calvin spoke about humanity as a wild stallion that needs a bridle.


~~~

Once again many of us are failing to find balance between the pulls of ardor and order, feelings and intellect, emotions and reason. Ours seems a culture rampantly feasting on feelings, sensibility, disparaging sense. We wallow in rank emotionalism. Watch out for what you want.


Hunter said to bear: “I want a fur coat.” Bear said to hunter: “I want a full belly.” Bear ate hunter and both got what they desired.


~~~


So we worship a sock drawer God.


What?


Come on now, how do you sort your laundry?


Dump it on the bed. You take your time separating the towels from the underwear and T-shirts. Pile up the socks then sort them by color, hers, his.


Creation can be appreciated as organizing that which is in chaos.


God, shown in Jesus, alone offers the way to bring order to a world of chaos.


~~~


11Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.


It makes everything so much easier if you first take time to do things right. Literally:


Be set right

Be exhorted

Be of same mind

Be at peace


Then the God love and peace will be with you. You? All second person plural. All of us are commanded. By God, all of us can be set right, exhorted, of the same mind, at peace. Not that we can achieve that ourselves. It is the result, a gift. Like when you look up into the night sky, the stars and the moon and say wow.


Who are we? Who am I?


Precious and beloved, come from God, meant for God.


Amen and Amen

[1] McLaren



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