Sunday, January 8, 2017
Glory Thunders Over Mighty Waters
Psa. 29 A Psalm of David. Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name;
worship the LORD in holy splendor.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD, over mighty waters.
The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;
the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the LORD causes the oaks to whirl,
and strips the forest bare;
and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;
the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.
May the LORD give strength to his people!
May the LORD bless his people with peace!
This Psalm of David draws us into an attitude of Praise. Athanasius wrote, “If in a spirit of gratitude you wish to teach how one should make a spiritual offering to the Lord, sing Psalm 29.” (Athanasius o the Interpretation of the Psalms 17 [OIP 68]) We join in the chorus of praise but pause to ponder verse three where “the voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over mighty waters.” God was believed to control the thunder and the lightening and the presence of which in the midst of battle was viewed as divine intervention. This is an expression of the sovereignty of God, and the power of God over creation and all political systems of the world. As God thunders over mighty waters, the glory of the LORD is revealed both in heaven and earth.
Today we celebrate the baptism of Jesus Christ. In the gospel of Matthew we read, “And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’“(Matthew 3:16-7) It is in this moment that God the Father again thunders, but this time over baptismal waters, and audibly declares Jesus as his Son. Just as in Creation the waters are divided, so now, in Christ’s baptism the waters are parted and the barriers between heaven and earth are brought down. The power of God, to have control over all in heaven and earth is revealed in the mighty waters of baptism.
Far too often we fail to grasp the power and majesty of God which has been revealed again and again. When we are baptized, or when we witness baptism, our hearts are invited to join with the Psalmist in everlasting praise of God on high. Just as the power of God was exposed in Jesus’ baptism, so we are invited to become partakers of the divine nature in our baptism. Baptism is more than a testimony to what God has done in our lives, it is grace poured out as we participate in the activity of Christ. It is a sacrament, a mystery which we cannot explain but in which God is active and present. God continues to thunder over the waters baptism, revealing power which brings down the barriers created by this world and invites us into kingdom living. In this space we discover the justice of the LORD who reigns forever.
Lord, today we thank you for the waters of your baptism, and that you invite us to join you there. Amen.