For 19 March 2020: The Fourth Thursday of Lent
Read: Psalm 148
Fog. The day began with a foggy twilight. It was eerie to look out the windows toward the trees around the back of the yard in the dark this morning. They looked like long shadowy figures as the sun began to overcome the night. My half-awake mind wasn’t sure to make of the image. So, I simply stood there and watched the sun rise against the fog. The weather seems to encapsulate the mood of Lent this year.
Lent, this year, is marked by social distancing and a pandemic. The community cannot gather for fear of spreading infection. Those simple meals shared and learning together cannot happen. Services to mark Holy Thursday and Good Friday grow unlikely. Francis canceled the observance of Easter in Vatican City! These are all hallmark moments of Christian worship, fellowship, and unity. They mark the central events in our understanding of God’s grace being poured out for all creation. I look forward to Lent. I look forward to the meals and learning, the special services and all the goes along with Easter. To me, preparing for all those services, meals, and studies rekindles the strength of the congregation through worship and fellowship. The fellowship which Lent rebuilds is struggling like the sun against this mornings’ fog.
I looked up “fog” in an online concordance. It showed Psalm 148 as having the word “fog” in the text. In my bible, that is not how the word is translated. It is translated, “frost.” Regardless, I stopped to read Psalm 148. As I sat on the front porch, I head “Alleluia! Praise YHWH from the heavens; praise God in the heights! Praise God, all you angels; praise God, all you hosts!” (Psalm 148:1-2, TIB). The writer of Psalm 148 is inviting all of creation to praise God, even the fog. I giggled to myself with the idea. Fog praising God. Preposterous!
Yet, as I remain quietly in the fog watching the shadows fade, I ask, “Why is fog praising God preposterous?” It’s the same as saying the trees will dance and the hills sing. I don’t think of those things as preposterous, at least not immediately. How does fog praise God? How do I praise God? We are called to “…live your life worth of the gospel of Christ…” (Philippians 1:27, NRSV). The Good News is that God has welcomed me into God’s reign and made a place for me at the heavenly banquet. Does my life reflect not just the calling and invitation but also my embrace of the calling? Would anyone know that I have embraced the Good News with the way I live my life?
I hope my life does reflect my embrace of the Good News. Yet, I know that I do not always live as one who has embraced the Good News. We all make mistakes myself included. A professor of mine used to say that the only mistake anyone can make in worship is to worry about making a mistake in worship. He was correct. Maybe that’s a lesson we need to carry more widely. The only mistake we can make in living our faith is to worry about making a mistake in living out our faith. Psalm 148 doesn’t call for creation to worship God in some idealized way. Rather, all of creation, ourselves included, are to praise God however it is we can. Fog praises God by watering the earth. We praise God by living each day as a disciple of Jesus Christ.