ALL THE WORKS OF GOD

All the Works of God
Psalm 145:10-18
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

All the Works of God

All the Works of God

Psalm 145:10-18 — The Message

Creation and creatures applaud you, God;
your holy people bless you.
They talk about the glories of your rule,
they exclaim over your splendor,
Letting the world know of your power for good,
the lavish splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is a kingdom eternal;
you never get voted out of office.
God always does what he says,
and is gracious in everything he does.
God gives a hand to those down on their luck,
gives a fresh start to those ready to quit.
All eyes are on you, expectant;
you give them their meals on time.
Generous to a fault,
you lavish your favor on all creatures.
Everything God does is right—
the trademark on all his works is love.
God’s there, listening for all who pray,
for all who pray and mean it.

This Psalmist/King David/Head Temple Poet
certainly did some reflection
on nature and the surrounding world.
In my time,
at my desk,
and for my congregation,
I am led to ask the questions,
what/who are these creatures
the writer hears praising the works of God,
and how does this writer understand what they are saying?
Some of course are humans,
but some are not.
Some speak languages he understands,
some do not.
But I do not think this
is just a matter of simple observation.
I think that there is a kind of resonance
going on here.
It takes a sorrowful and wounded heart
that has been
moved by wonder and love
to recognize wonder and love.
It takes a person
who has learned and knows well
the language of praise
to have ears that can
hear it, comprehend it and reflect on it.
It takes a person
whose emptiness
has been filled by love
and who engages in
an exultant glorification about life
to recognize exultant glorification when it’s going on.
I wrote a Honky-Tonk song years ago
that has a line that goes,
“My heart’s on empty,
and it’s runnin’ on the fumes of memory,
of those better times we had so long ago…”
A heart that’s runnin’ on the fumes of memory
is going to find it difficult
to recognize the jubilant adoration
going on around it
as anything other
than salt to their own wounds.
The Psalmist writes that
“…the trademark on all God’s works
is love…”
and for the many who
day in and day out
only experience love’s opposite,
it is going to be hard
to recognize love when it is presented.
I have actually been told,
and you have heard things like this as well,
that I should not express my joy
at being married for as long as I have
because it makes those who haven’t been
or are divorced
feel bad.
Some suggest
I not celebrate Mother’s Day or Father’s Day,
and maybe cut back on my exuberance
about
Thanksgiving and Christmas
because of those who have had losses
that become more poignant at those times.
Hearts on empty
do not understand hearts overflowing with joy,
and many times resent the joy of others.
Yet, while we should try and be empathic
to the suffering of the wounded,
we should in no way curb
our own enthusiasm and joy
for the lives we have
because we are worried
that our joy will rub pain into someone else.
Recognizing that we all have suffered,
the question for us is,
how much does
our pain inhibit
the possibility of our experiencing joy?
The time has come
for God’s trademark of love
to overwhelm us,
fill the emptiness of our hearts,
and teach us the
lavish and extravagant and expectant language
of praise.
The time has come for love.

FROM WHENCE YOU CAME

From Whence You Came

From Whence You Came

Ephesians 2:11-22
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

So let’s start here:
Our lives are special,
and yes,
we are blest.
We live in a place that is an end
destination for vacations,
We live in a nation
where our entitlement is so great
that, for the most part,
we do not even recognize it as such.
We have cars,
many of which are more than simple transportation.
We live in homes and properties
many who are not
living in this super-saturated community of wealth
would consider estates,
mansions or castles—some are.
We shop for groceries and clothing and sports products
in stores giving us more
than one choice of product.
AND yet
not one of us thinks of ourselves
as wealthy beyond all imagination
and haven’t in the past week
at least considered the notion
that we were a little short of cash,
or that we might even be just a little broke.
For the most part
there is a slow fog rising in our memories
between our immigrant-heritages
and our present
that enables us
to only see what we are now
and to judge our own circumstances
by our
current life-style
or the life-styles of those around us.
We consider our inconvenience
and think of it as poverty.
We look in the mirror
of what we don’t have
and see destitution.
Yet, in the eyes of our poorer,
less blest neighbors,
we are rich.
Our homes are not made of cardboard.
Our children have shoes.
They do not go to bed hungry.
We do not go to bed hungry.
We can play
and take vacations
and relax and
not feel as if we are cheating our families
of their necessities when we do so.
And yet many in our great nation
forget all this,
and suffer from a delusion,
an illusion that
greed equals need,
and act as if
they are too poor
to share their wealth.
Many of the most wealthy
want more
at the cost of the poor.
But Paul tells us to remember who,
what,
how we are,
and where we came from.
Do not forget that we did not give
any of this to ourselves.
Do not forget that what we have
is a combination of
luck, grace, place and gift,
and as such, is not really ours
to have and stockpile,
but ours with which to
build the kingdom.
And,
building the kingdom is a time for love,
and bringing in not keeping out,
sharing, not hoarding,
inviting outsiders to become insiders
as we once were.
Tear down the walls of fear,
the time has come for love.

SHARING THE JOY OF JOY

Sharing the Joy

Sharing the Joy

2 Samuel 6:1-19
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

I have a friend
who subscribes to an inspirational page
that offers really good insights
into the living of our lives.
The author posts pairings of
photographs and short affirmations
that are motivational and very good.
One posted recently writes of
pursuing our passion and purpose
and how our purpose is to bring more
love and hope and compassion and light
into ourselves
and the world.
I believe this.
I know this to be true.
I count on this.
But the question
generally posed to me
by those suffering
from various stages of depression
always seems to be,
how do we find
love, hope, compassion, and light?
How can we possibly
dance like David when our leaden feet
are so burdened all we can do
is drag them, and
when our lives are permeated
by such a heavy darkness that
love, hope, compassion, and light
seem fictions,
past memories —
dirty tricks played on us
by purveyors of false hopes and cheap tricks?
It is not easy,
convenient,
simple.
The first question I ask one who is depressed
is whether or not
they have a dependency on alcohol or drugs.
The next question I ask
is whether or not they have seen
their physician to find out
if this is a physical issue
or a mental condition such as bipolar I or II.
Those are two places to begin,
and they are about self-care,
and hope begins
— always —
with self-care.
But for the person
who is not dealing with medical or mental issues,
the place to begin is with a choice.
Choose to believe,
in spite of what you think,
in the absolute value of your life and your choices.
Choose to not believe the disbelievers,
the nay sayers,
the buzz killers
who may be stalking
the beauty of your life
with vicious intent
under the guise of
“well intentioned helpfulness”
— those who themselves
are frozen in place
by their own set of buzz killers
and need the comfort of your misery.
Most importantly is to choose to believe
in
and acknowledge
what I term,
your “heart’s desire.”
This is not simply a want.
Nor is it simply a need
It most certainly
is not someone else’s idea.
But it is that
holy,
sacred,
wonderful,
beautiful,
breath-catchingly fragile
thing
hidden deep in your heart of hearts.
And you do know of it,
and that it secretly
prays to be born
and nurtured
into the light.
Its acknowledgment and release
bloom joy and light!
It explodes into hope!
It arrives in glory!
But it begins
with our choice
to allow its existence.
David
was a powerfully rich priest/king
with armies
and entitlement
the like of which we will never experience,
yet his joy is nothing
compared
to our own joy
when our own heart’s desire is birthed.
Choose joy,
then share!

AND WHAT WILL THEY SAY ABOUT YOU?

Looking Back with a Nod to Church

Looking Back with a Nod to Church

Ezekiel 2-2-5
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

My job/role/mandate/commission
as an ordained minister
is to first, be prophetic;
second, be pastoral;
third, be human and try and have a life.
Sometimes they seem to be in conflict,
but they aren’t, really.
Sometimes I have to say, “No,”
and speak out of a prophetic voice
and proclaim how what God expects
does not fit with our actions.
Sometimes I need to be present
in a way that models
the comfort of a loving, caring,
God in the midst of loss, grief, suffering and pain.
So when I read this scripture I start to understand,
sort of,
how so many ministers can get stuck off track,
becoming hard-nosed prophets
and lose touch
with what I believe is God’s
message to us through Jesus.
This text was written by an old-testament,
old-school,
hard-line,
fundamentalistic prophet
who cut no slack
for the perceived wrongs
of a group
he has made into a dire enemy of God.
What do we know about this prophet?
We know that no matter that
these were his own people,
no matter that
they were as broken and as scared and as crushed
as was he,
they were not fulfilling
his
notion of the nature
of a godly nation and so
he hears
his God
bring down the hammer on them
in a diatribe of poisonous vitriol.
I do not see being this kind of prophet
as useful to mine,
or anyone’s
pastoral role.
I understand my role
as one that offers possibilities
for openings to God’s love.
Let me turn around this scripture:

We are not a defiant bunch. We want to know that a prophet’s been here, but we don’t want to be afraid of either our God or God’s prophet. We don’t want living with God or this prophet to be like stepping on thorns or finding scorpions in our beds. AND, I do not want to be afraid of their mean words or their hard looks. We are not a bunch of rebels, or hardened rebels, we are a broken people who need to be spoken to with kindness and love and shown how to heal.

And how do we want to be remembered as a people of God?
What will they say of us in later years?
I should say that
I am not only referring to
the conservative bigots and mean-speakers,
but also to the liberal bigots and mean-speakers.
Understand that
both sides will see themselves as so
self-righteously right
that they each will understand
this writing as irrelevant to themselves
and their own hyperbole.
We are all broken and in need of healing.
Our spite,
our vicious words,
our mean-spirited bitterness
toward the other side of our various arguments,
is our fear which
EMANATES FROM OUR BROKENNESS
AND ARE OUR OWN CRIES FOR HEALING.
So for both the proclaimers of
Right-wing and Left-wing hate,
the time has come for love.
I am trying to find ways
to point out the wrongness of
bigotry and hate,
cruelty and injustice,
greed and arrogance,
entitlement and bad theology
while opening doors to
healing and grace and liberation.
AND, if I am to be remembered,
I want it to be for being one who
built bridges,
tore down walls,
enabled love,
facilitated hope and
negotiated freedom
for the prisoners of despair.
In truth isn’t what we all
really
want to be known for?