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Awakening to Beauty, Falling in Love with the World, July 9, 2023

Psalm 147, My friends, GOD’S abundant beauty shimmers and shimmies through the universe and on every street corner and every closet and every kitchen table where someone is singing or weeping. Because of GOD’S abundant beauty, our spirits are enlivened.

(I paraphrased the words of Wendy Farley.)

Friends, are you ready… for new life?

Please pray with me, Divine Goodness, prepare our spirits to help us awaken to the beauty of life; no matter what our current situation is; help to really see the beauty you have blessed us with. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

We try to satisfy our thirst for meaningful life with so many distractions and addictions. Awakening to GOD’S Abundant Beauty is to find the well that never runs dry. For it is in beginning to truly see the world with our spirits that our soul’s thirst is quenched.

The resilience and beauty of the natural world is a sign of hope, even when things are difficult. A tree is scorched by fire and yet new sprouts shoot up, defiant and optimistically reaching toward the sun. A crack in a sidewalk reveals the seeds just beneath the surface just waiting for a chance to break through.

Contemplating this resilient beauty draws us back to our own vitality and the promise that we, too, are capable of new life.

“For the beauty of the earth,

for the glory of the skies,

for the love which from our birth,

over and around us lies.

God of all to thee we raise

This our hymn of grateful praise!”

We are being reminded in this message series how beautiful the world is and everything and everyone in it! In our “search for beauty” today we are looking for objects, people, stuff, memories that are broken or imperfect. How can something “broken” be beautiful?

This week the Bible tells us that God takes care of broken things. Can you see something that is broken around you, in your life, somewhere? Really, brokenness is all around us. Each of us is broken, and GOD is here to help us in our brokenness.

I want to teach you a fun word today. It is a Japanese word, “wabi-sabi.” Let’s say that together: “wabi-sabi!” What a fun word! And what it means is also really wonderful. Wabi-sabi is the idea that everything is beautiful, even things that are imperfect–things that might have been broken or made in an unusual way.

In fact, this Japanese idea says that imperfection or out-of-the-ordinary makes things more interesting and special.

There is also an ancient Japanese art of repairing broken things with gold. That’s called “kintsugi.” Instead of hiding the cracks, gold is put there to show us the beautiful design that the crack made.

Have you ever had to put a band-aid on a “boo boo” or have you, or someone you know, ever broken a bone and had to wear a cast? We love to color on casts or wear band-aids that are colorful and fun. You are invited to journal a bit in the blank space in your bulletin, writing your thoughts about the broken parts of life that you’d like God to help you see as opportunities to be changed and seen as beautiful. The beauty of life includes all things.

Let’s pray a repeat-after-me prayer: I’ll say a line and then you repeat it out loud!

God of Goodness [repeat, etc.]

Thank you for life…

even when things break…

Help me…

help you, GOD…

repair broken hearts…

offering color and love…

for the beauty of the earth…Amen…

Imagine that today’s Scripture, Psalm 147, that these words are directed at the exiles who find themselves in need of an encouraging word. In this Psalm, the Divine One, Yahweh, is the source of restoration, of binding wounds, of bringing sustenance and life to all living things, especially those who are suffering.

My friends, there are many ways to feel “exiled” from familiar and beloved places and people. May you drink in these hopeful words, knowing that, like the stars, Divine Goodness knows each of our names.

Psalm 147 begins and ends in our Pew Bibles with the words, “Praise the Lord!” Translated from the word, “Hallelu-yah!” And each section of this powerful psalm gives attention to both creation and deliverance. GOD is personally, intimately and inextricably involved in the lives and futures of human beings.

Psalm 147, this time from The Message Translation, “Hallelujah!

It’s a good thing to sing praise to our God;

praise is beautiful, praise is fitting.

2-6 God’s the one who rebuilds Jerusalem,

who regathers Israel’s scattered exiles.

He heals the heartbroken

and bandages their wounds. (key verse)

He counts the stars

and assigns each a name.

Our Lord is great, with limitless strength;

we’ll never comprehend what he knows and does.

God puts the fallen on their feet again

and pushes the wicked into the ditch.

7-11 Sing to God a thanksgiving hymn,

play music on your instruments to God,

Who fills the sky with clouds,

preparing rain for the earth,

Then turning the mountains green with grass,

feeding both cattle and crows.

the size of our muscles means little to him.

Those who fear God get God’s attention;

they can depend on his strength.”

This is the Word of the Lord!! Thanks be to GOD!!

My friends, I hope you heard that, but it bears repeating verse 10 and 11, “He’s not impressed with horsepower;

the size of our muscles means little to him.

Those who fear God get God’s attention;

they can depend on his strength.”

Fearing GOD, means to totally respect and revere GOD. That’s what GOD wants!!

I copied a Facebook post that a friend, Rev. Jim Downing posted the other day, from a website, “Lessons Taught By Life.”

“When a flashlight grows dim or quits working, you don’t throw it away, you change the batteries. When a person messes up and finds themselves in a dark place, do you cast them aside? Of course not, you help them change their batteries. Some need double AA…Attention and Affection; Some need triple AAA…Attention, Affection, and Acceptance; Some need C…Compassion; Some need D…direction. And if they still don’t seem to shine…simply sit with them quietly and share your light.”

In our prayers this week, I invite you to find some aspect of nature within eyesight or touch to focus on. What imperfections do you sense up close? Notice how it is no less beautiful for its imperfections. Let us pray today for those that need lifting up and reminded that their brokenness is tended by divine love.

With each week’s message, we will find a way to integrate contemplative practices into our daily lives as a way of opening to the Divine in deeper ways, thereby training our spirits for compassion in all things. This week’s ritual action could include the journaling–take a moment each day to contemplate your own healing process. Or it could be a contemplative moment of fixing something you’ve been putting off for a time. Does something need some super-glue or spackling or mending? If so, do this with a prayerful intention.

My friends, yesterday our Church Council met and the 8 of us took a real deep look into who we are as a church. Yes, we were worshipping over 50 in worship 5 years ago; and now about 25 or so after the pandemic. We are broken in so many ways, but after an activity that Pastor Bill LaMora led us through, we tried to really focus on who we are right now! Our core values right now. Not who we were, not who we want to become; but who we are right now.

With 8 of us gathered Pastor Bill explained what the 24 values were; before we met, we tapped the values around the room.

Each of us had 5 votes of who we are right now by putting up sticky-notes on the value of our choice. All of the values that had at least 2 votes were taped to the big wood doors. Then we took off those sticky notes; and then we voted 5 more times!!

We agreed RIGHT NOW HARMONIE CHURCH’S CORE VALUES ARE: GIVING; WORSHIP; PRAYER; PREACHING AND TEACHING SCRIPTURE; and COMMUNITY!

My friends, this is a wonderful, fantastic, outstanding foundation for GOD to use to grow our church in the depth of our faith and the number of disciples working to make more disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of our world.

Then out of the possible 19 core values left, we picked the one value that we felt GOD wanted to grow EVANGELISM!! We feel that GOD is calling to live out our vision to make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Our church is not perfect. BUT GOD CAN USE US IN OUR BROKENNESS!!

You may want to put a note somewhere in a highly-visible place–“Find beauty within the imperfections of life and accept peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay. Be reminded to offer grace for imperfections… for the beauty of the earth.”

We sang “Go Ye Into The World” for our closing hymn.

Benediction

The world is so varied and beautiful.

Seek wisdom wherever it is to be found.

And may the goodness of the Creator,

the companionship of the Christ,

and the insight of the Spirit,

infuse your life now and always.

Amen.

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