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We Are Made for the Beloved, July 2, 2023

Psalm 16:7-11, Wendy Farley said, “Suffering is part of being human, but what makes suffering so soul-destroying is our forgetfulness that God is with us." Are you ready to remember the warmth of Divine presence?

Let us pray, Divine Goodness, prepare our spirits to see and be amazed by the beauty of life. Help us realized you created us to be in relationship with you. Help us always know that we were made for you, Our Beloved. And help us remember that we will ALWAYS be YOUR BELOVED. Amen.

A Christian mystic of the 14th century, Julian of Norwich, lived during one of the worst centuries of human history, including the black death pandemic that wiped out millions of people, famines, floods, war, and corruption. In her writing, she addresses what she believed to be at the root of suffering–the misplaced idea of God’s rejection. Without this core belief in beauty and sacred worth of all creation, we engage in self-and-other-destroying behaviors, inducing further suffering. Contemplative practices invite us into UNION with the Divine One, healing the wounds of forgetfulness.

For the next few weeks we are talking for the about how beautiful the world is and everything and everyone in it. “Remembering” is part of today’s message.

In our “search for beauty” we are going to remember how lovely and warm God’s love is!

This week the Bible tells us that God is present with us all the time–that the One who loves us even more than the people that love us the most, is “right by our side” 24/7 helping us feel safe. So, this week’s search is for something that can wrap us up and help us feel safe and warm… like a wonderful blanket!

Great! Let’s wrap up in a blanket! Since you didn’t bring a blanket, please imagine that your arms are a blanket. Close your eyes and say these words after I do: “Please GOD, help us know your love never quits. Help us feel the warmth of your love.”

Are you beginning to feel warmer and cozier?

The scripture today is from a Psalm poem that calls God a “refuge,” which means a safe place when we are feeling alone or scared. When people are feeling scared or cold after something like a storm, one of the first things we want to do is wrap them up in a blanket because it not only helps their bodies, it helps their hearts feel better. So, this next week we are going to wrap up in a blanket whenever we feel like it and remember that we are never, ever alone. Like that blanket, God’s love is wrapping us up.

Allow GOD to wrap YOU, His beloved, in His love.

And when we wrap others in love, we help create a more beautiful world of warmth and goodness.

Some Bible commentators label Psalm 16 a “Confession of Faith,” as well as a “Song of Confidence.” The psalm can be compared in its function with the Apostles’ Creed in Christian worship.

On page 453 of our Pew Bibles, please hear the first part of Psalm 16 verse 1 and following,

“Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.

2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;

I have no good apart from you.”

3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,

in whom is all my delight.” Folks, you are the ones who I take delight in, Our Church Family!!

Verse 4 “The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out

or take their names on my lips.” My friends, I’ve seen so very much suffering with folks who have no connection to GOD.

5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.

6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;

indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”

Friends, this psalmist is totally committed to GOD, and no other gods. Trust takes the very relation to GOD itself as one of the greatest benefits of the Lord’s way with the servants of GOD.

Trust concentrates the mind on the Lord. Through praise the psalmist keeps the Lord in the center of his attention and practices the presence of the Lord. So, he’s open to GOD’S instruction.

To take refuge in GOD means to trust GOD, to recognize GOD’S sovereignty, to live in dependence upon GOD rather than on self. I’ve had to work hard to not try to do stuff on my own and not go to GOD first! Small groups have really helped me be able to process “out loud” what I believe is GOD’S direction for me or my family, or the church.

Now let’s continue with today’s scripture Verse 7 of Psalm 16,

“I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.

Verse 8, “I have set the Lord always before me;

because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.”

Verse 9, “Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;

my flesh also dwells secure.” Friends, this word, “secure,” is from the Hebrew root word for “trust.” Security for the psalmist is not an achievement but a result of a life entrusted to GOD.

Verse 10, “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,

or let your holy one see corruption.”

Verse 11, “You make known to me the path of life;

in your presence there is fullness of joy;

at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

All three dimensions of the psalmist’s being—heart, soul, and body—participate in this joyous security. Trust is the confidence of life in the face of death. For the psalmist, life means being able to enjoy the presence of GOD, ALL THE TIME!!

We were made for our GOD, our Beloved. And we NEED TO KNOW THAT WE ARE GOD’S BELOVED!!

This psalm reminded me of GOD’S Word in Deuteronomy 30. If you want to read with me turn to Pew Bible page 172, Deuteronomy 30 verse 19 and following, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore, choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to give them.”

Psalm 16:11 echoes GOD’S call throughout the Bible.

The psalmist speaks directly to GOD and we get to hear him address GOD, “You make known to me the path of life;

in your presence there is fullness of joy;

at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

It’s right there for us, The Lord has made known the path of life. Choose Life, GOD tells us…

Paul reminds us in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

So Psalm 16 articulates the experience of life and joy, not apart from suffering, but in the midst of it; IN THE MIDST OF SUFFERING. For those who entrust their lives and futures completely to GOD, suffering and glory are inseparable. The author of Hebrews even speaks of Jesus’ enduring the cross, “for the sake of the joy that was set before him” (Hebrews 12:2). Yes, Jesus’ experience, but also the experience of his followers—from bold first-century martyrs, like Peter and Paul, to courageous twentieth-century martyrs, like

Martin Luther King, Jr.

We were made for our GOD, our Beloved. And we NEED TO KNOW THAT WE ARE GOD’S BELOVED!!

Allow GOD to wrap you in the Blanket of His LOVE!!

We shared in Holy Communion to GOD’S Love.

And then sang, “Go Ye Into The World” to close the service.

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