Sunday, May 26, 2013

C, Holy Trinity - Psalm 8:1-2 "From the Mouths of Babies"

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Recently on television, Ruby Wax, an American comedian, known for her obnoxious portrayal of an American in Great Britain, speaking about the mental state of people said, “We’ve evolved technically, but emotionally we’re all idiots, we’re still in the slime!”  She was saying “all of us struggle”; and it’s true we all do!  We think the next person has it more together than we do, while we grovel around for meaning and purpose in our own lives.
Wisdom seems to be fleeting, yet we all like to give the impression we’ve got it together.  But really we go from one dilemma to another.  We struggle with our sexuality in our teens and twenties, then somewhere in our thirties and into our forties we become fixated on amassing wealth and possessions.  And when, and if, that temptation dies down honour and glory become more important to us in our fifties and sixties. 
And you’d think in old age wisdom might begin to rear its head but even here it’s hard to find.  As the memory starts to fade, it seems the older one gets the better I was!  There’s the temptation to piously point the finger at others projecting my forgotten failures onto someone younger; apparently not as mature and wise as me!  Hmmm!
So for all the advancements humanity makes in this world, it seems we make next to no improvements in understanding who we are, how our hearts and heads are connected, or should be connected, and what our purpose is in this technically berserk environment we’ve created for ourselves.
There are two little words we humans get hopelessly mixed up.  If we could only sort them out or have them sorted out, perhaps humanity would be lifted out of the hopelessness and depression that our busyness and technical advancement only seems to exacerbate!
The first of these little words is, DO — to do, doing, what we can do, what one has done!  It seems these days it’s more about doing the opposite sex, doing what’s required to outdo the rest, appearing to do what’s right, doing the job so we might do more stuff in our free time.  Ironically we then wonder why all our free time disappears, but we’re only busy because we have so much to do!  And in the end we find we no longer enjoy doing anything because we no longer do what we want to do out of love or joy but rather we do it because we have to do it. 
Have you ever seriously sat in the quiet and wondered why you “do” anything?
But the word on which every person needs to focus is, BE — to be, who I am, what we are!  To be with people!  How to be with others; socially, sexually, and in community; the common unity of humans being, human beings!  After all this is what we are, primarily “human beings” who do things to serve the being rather than “human doings” doing stuff to gain an identity.
Also it makes no difference inside and outside the church.  Christians and non Christians alike make the same mistake, seeking to be something or someone by what we do, or what we pretend to do, rather than be who I honestly am… who you honestly are!  It’s because of this mistake; Christianity fails to be Christian and returns to the practices of every other ideology and religion doing itself undone today!
 This is why, we can learn from the youngest and weakest amongst us.  They are what the rest of us seek to hide with our sexuality, with our wealth and property, and with our vain glory.  Their being is one of weakness and helplessness.  Paradoxically, these who are least have the most, because they cannot do anything but be who they were created to be.  They are what we are too… and that is blessedly helpless!
And now the text from Psalm 8 starts to make sense in our confusion between “Doing and Being”.
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.  Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. (Psalm 8:1–2 ESV)
How contrary to our thinking is this text?  The one who is least has the strength. They haven’t earned it, they’ve done nothing to possess it, yet the mouth of a suckling has the strength to still the enemy and the avenger who might literally (in the Hebrew) cramp one’s existence.
How true it is having evolved in technical knowhow we’ve done it to the detriment of ever really knowing ourselves.  Or as Ruby Wax points out, “We’re all idiots; we’re still in the emotional Neanderthal slime!”  Whereas the writer of Proverbs 8 says more subtly…
Does not wisdom call? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud: “To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man. O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense.”
“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion.”
 “And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favour from the Lord, but he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death.” (Proverbs 8:1-5, 12, 32-36 ESV)
Here wisdom is personified.  “Who is this wisdom?  Or, what must I do to get this wisdom?” we might ask!  And in doing so we once again return to the fault of doing rather than the maturity of being!  But rather we need to return and receive wisdom in what’s like a marriage to wisdom which leads one to true eternal maturity.
In Baptism this “marriage” occurs!  The full being of God the Father, Jesus Christ, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit meets us in a matrimony made in heaven, and hung of the hellish hill, on the cross.
You see Jesus Christ is true wisdom, personified, in flesh, on the cross, in the resurrection, and now present for all who call on him!  In baptism God does the work of making you, one with him; forgiving sin, helping the blessedly helpless, hanging your true nature on the cross, so that you “the weak one” can confess who you really are, killing the avenger, the enemy, the old foe of our sinful being within. 
No longer do you have to keep the secret and pretend to be what you’re not!  How much of a relief is that?  Humanity can now take a break!  We can all take a collective sigh!   Ahhhhhh!   I can be who I am.  One who struggles, one who is weak, I confess that I am not right, that I really have no clue, that I am far from even coming near to being perfect in any way! 
But not only can I confess that I am a helpless sinner, but I am a forgive sinner, free to be blessedly helpless, but blessedly helped and given wisdom, and faith, and hope in he who knows just who I am.
So we find the most mature Christians amongst us are those who can’t hide their sin but are just happy to be both sinners and saints.  And from the mouth of these babies and infants the Lord, our Lord, establishes and continues to establish his strength.
Jesus was that little baby, innocent and blessedly helpless, yet unlike us he did not unlearn this maturity of trust in God the Father, and remained innocent and blessedly helpless right to the cross and resurrection.  He was the only one who remained what he was created to be.  He was born helpless and innocent and was purposely baptised into our humanity and hung on the cross for it.  Now you who are born helpless in your human nature are encouraged to hang onto the humility of Christ and receiving his new humanity which can and does make you fit for heaven.
As this world is technologically evolving from the sublime to the ridiculous, be recreated each day in the promise that God works in baptism, in his word, when we stop and rest in the forgiveness of sin which Jesus Christ has won for you at the cross. 
Your purpose, the only place where you get hope and true meaning in your life, is when you lay your life in the life of Christ. Place your being in the doing of Jesus; what he has done and continues to do for you. Amen.