Yesterday's Psalm, whose opening lines form a familiar chorus in Josef Haydn's oratorio "The Creation," has long been a favorite. "The heavens are telling the glory of God" writes the poet, "the skies proclaim the work of his hands." As Celtic Christians have long affirmed, God's character is powerfully revealed through the "big book" of creation. Indeed, Paul will tell the Romans, that "everything that is to be known about God is seen in His creation," therefore people are without excuse for seeking ways of meaning, truth, beauty, interconnectedness and love.

But creation isn't the only reveleation of God. The psalmist continues by speaking of the revelation that comes from the law of God. The Old Testament reading from Exodus 20 spoke of the giving of the Ten Commandments, whose words Moses inscribed upon tablets of stone. These words were meant to take a people formed by slavery and transform them into a nation whose purpose was to join the heavens in showing forth the glory, love and kindness of Yahweh. Far from being burdensome, God's laws were to be a delight: "The law of the Lord is perfect, and revives the soul...the statutes of the Lord are just and rejoice the heart."

The task of living out holy lives, however, is not easy. There are times when our hearts need to be cleansed. In John's Gospel (chapter 20), we are reminded that even those who claim to be the keepers of God's revelation may lose sight of truth. When Jesus goes into Jerusalem to offer sacrifices in accordance with Jewish law, what he sees is deeply disturbing. Instead of this sacred place being a "house of prayer for all nations", it had been turned into a marketplace, the stalls of racketeers infringing on the area set aside for Gentiles to worship. Jesus strides purposefully into the courts with a handmade whip, overturning tables and moving out those obstructionists, making room for hearts intent on seeking God.

The purpose of God's revelation - creation, law, and ultimately the God-man Jesus - was not only to show us the character of the Holy, but to invite us to participate in the fellowship of the Divine.  We are meant to see and then long for what is good, to take it into us like sweet honey. Blessed are the pure in heart, Jesus will say, for they shall see God. And those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, will be filled with the very same glory that the heavens declare.

Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God,
  and the firmament shows his handiwork. 
One day tells its tale to another,
  and one night imparts knowledge to another. 
Although they have no words or language,
  and their voices are not heard, 
Their sound has gone out into all lands, 
  and their message to the ends of the world. 
In the deep has he set a pavilion for the sun;
  it comes forth like a bridegroom out of his chamber;
  it rejoices like a champion to run its course.
It goes forth from the uttermost edge of the heavens
  and runs about to the end of it again;
nothing is hidden from its burning heat. 

The law of the LORD is perfect
  and revives the soul; 
the testimony of the LORD is sure
  and gives wisdom to the innocent. 
The statutes of the LORD are just
  and rejoice the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is clear
  and gives light to the eyes. 
The fear of the LORD is clean
  and endures for ever;
the judgments of the LORD are true
  and righteous altogether. 
 
More to be desired are they than gold,
  more than much fine gold, 
  sweeter far than honey, than honey in the comb
By them also is your servant enlightened,
  and in keeping them there is great reward. 
 
Who can tell how often he offends?
  cleanse me from my secret faults. 
Above all, keep your servant from presumptuous sins;
  let them not get dominion over me;
then shall I be whole and sound,
  and innocent of a great offense. 
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my
  heart be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my strength and my redeemer.

Note: The following rendition of The Heavens are Telling is performed by the Kings College Choir, Cambridge.
 
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Yesterday Dan and I were talking about the dangers of putting weight on things that aren't robust enough to hold it. Metaphorically, that is. The idea of looking to your job to give you 90% of life fulfillment, for instance, rather than 40%, and then counting on relationships, hobbies, spiritual experiences, etc to make up the rest of the 60%. If you approach life this way, it means that life is more of a treasure hunt than a board game, and your desires are clues to where the treasures can be found.

It makes sense that since we're wired differently we will find what brings us joy in different places. The trouble, as mentioned above, is that we may be looking in the wrong direction, or expecting that God will meet us always at the same place. Take church, for instance. As I headed into this morning's service, I was expecting to connect to God through the worship. But although it was well done, for some reason the songs seemed dry. My singing (not those around me) became half-hearted and my mind started to wander. When that happens, it's easy for me to get discouraged, and then to tune out. But for some reason, I didn't. Instead I started to hunt. What is there in this place and time that will bring me joy? I stopped singing, and started really listening to the brass players-three trumpets and a trombone, who were having themselves a fine time.

From mariachi punch to ascending chords, this group of men and women were doing it all and doing it with a lot of panache. I couldn't help but smile. Ah ha!! and then I knew I'd hit pay dirt. As my soul drank in the splendor of the harmonies, and the brilliance of the tone, I felt refreshed. God had shown up, just not where I expected Him to be. 

The earth is filled with the glory of God, the energy of God, the love and power of God. And God desires to pour that love, that energy, that power and glory into each of us. The ways He has of filling us are as endless as our needs to refuel. As a book by Eugene Peterson is entitled, "Christ Plays in 1,000 Places." God is rarely silent. It's my challenge to discover what gig He has today, then pull up a seat and lean into the music.