In Psalm 27, we read, “The LORD is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident. One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.”
Each of us has known death; we have known risk of all sorts, and although we love God with all our hearts, we also know the limits of divine protection. We don’t expect divine guarantees, and we don’t expect divine insurance—God’s ways are not always our ways. So, I chose this psalm not to teach that God will protect us no matter what. No, the reason that I chose a portion of Psalm 27 is because I want us to know that the real thing to fear in this world is a world where righteousness is absent: a world where there is no justice, or freedom, or liberty or equality. What should I fear? A world where righteousness is in exile; a country where the symbols and systems of our country: the flag, the vote, our democracy and the police are no longer markers for justice, freedom, liberty and equality, but instead are inverted to protect the powerful, the rich one percent and the ruling class. It was Saint Basil who said, "A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love."
Near the end of his life, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, who was one of the heroes of the Battle of Gettysburg in the Civil War, in reflecting on what happened at Gettysburg and Little Round Top, said, "In great deeds something abides. On great fields something stays. Forms change and pass; bodies disappear; but spirits linger, to consecrate ground for the vision-place of souls. And reverent men and women from afar, and generations that know us not and that we know not of, heart-drawn to see where and by whom great things were suffered and done for them, shall come to this deathless field, to ponder and dream; and lo! the shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom, and the power of the vision pass into their souls."
However you identify with today's scripture, the truth of the presence of Jesus Christ in each of our lives goes far beyond and through the many levels of our secular and spiritual existence that we find in ourselves. God's love is all encompassing; God has big arms and Jesus Christ reaches out, through and into every level of our existence. God gives to us the personal, present-tense Savior that can handle every aspect of our lives, no matter how bad our lives may have become. All we need to do is acknowledge our failings to God, as a child would, and believe and follow His Son, Jesus. Of course, the question is: are you ready, willing and able to follow Jesus, now and forever? Are you ready?
Mercy & Vision