We pause over the deep implication of this psalm: God is present all the time and everywhere. The psalmist expresses that implication in personal terms: God knows everything about us. On the larger scale of the whole universe, there isn’t any place where God is not present. To the psalmist that means especially that God is deeply, personally present to each of us. That isn’t so easy for us to understand, much less to accept. Can the God of this vast universe know each of us and care for each of us?
The psalmist writes a long time before modern cosmology began to discover the incredible immensity of the universe. Reputable scientists agree that there are at least a trillion galaxies in the universe, each (like our own Milky Way) holding millions of stars and who-knows-how-many planets. The psalmist couldn’t know these numbers, but even in the ancient world, the immensity of creation is wonderfully evident. The psalmist’s faith in God’s intimate presence to each and every human being is deeply rooted in the psalmist’s wonder at the vastness of creation.
When we affirm our faith in God’s presence with each of us, we are all the more aware of the sheer grandeur of God. How can the God of all that is be so present to each of us? Theologian Paul Tillich reminds us that God is not just one “thing” among others. God, he writes, is the “ground of all being.” God is involved in everything. The intimate presence of God means all the more in light of the grandeur of God. We are invited to see the loving presence of God and to respond to God’s ubiquitous and intimate presence.
Thank you, God, for the incredible gift of this universe in which we have our home, and for your intimate loving presence with each of us. Amen.
Jeremiah brings another warning of impending judgment. If the people will not turn to the Lord, God will break the nation and reshape it, just as a potter breaks down and reshapes clay on a wheel. The psalmist praises God for God’s intimate knowledge of each one of us. Even from the moment of conception, God knows us and has a plan for our lives. Philemon is often overlooked, but it packs a punch. A text that some used in the past to justify slavery teaches a very different message. Paul warns Philemon not to enslave Onesimus again but to receive him back as a brother. Secular power structures have no place in God’s kingdom. In Luke, Jesus uses striking examples to teach us that the life of faith cannot be lived well with half-hearted commitment.
Read Jeremiah 18:1-11. As clay, how can you better respond to the Potter’s guiding hand?
Read Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18. God knows you better than you know yourself, yet God has given you the ability to make your own decisions. How do you respond to God?
Read Philemon 1-21. How do you honor the full humanity of those who serve you through their work?
Read Luke 14:25-33. What does it mean for you to take up the cross in your life?
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