Sermon: Divine invitations

By Joanna Lawrence Shenk

Psalm 19:1,7-10,14

19:1 The heavens are telling of your glory, O God; and the skies display your handiwork.
19:7 Your law, YHWH is perfect, reviving the soul; your rule is to be trusted, making wise the simple;
19:8 Your purposes, O God, are just, rejoicing the heart; your commandments are clear, enlightening the eyes;
19:9 holding you in awe, YHWH, is purifying; your decrees are steadfast and all of them just. 
19:10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb.
19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O God, my rock and my redeemer.

Last Sunday we received a powerful word from Nekeisha Alayna Alexis, exhorting us to a reorientation of our bodies and beings as we seek justice. This reorientation “means breathing in new patterns,” she said, “and sometimes literally finding new air. Justice begins with a state of heart.”

In her sermon she delved into the story of the rich young man who comes to Jesus, seeking wisdom on right living. With love, Jesus invites him to be reoriented, to change his way of being in the world. To live a life of justice, he must reorient his heart.  

This week I was drawn to the imagery and metaphor in Psalm 19, which felt like a continuation of Nekeisha’s invitation as it talks about the way of the Divine reviving the soul, rejoicing the heart, enlightening the eyes, and being sweeter than honey. 

This is what Jesus wanted for the rich young man, and for all those who were his followers. To be fully alive. This is the path we seek in the midst of a difficult world… to be soulful people, living joyfully and committing to ongoing transformation. 

So I want to use this sermon time today as an opportunity to reflect on the state of our hearts and the energies and emotions flowing through our bodies. We’ll do this by engaging in a guided meditation together. 

Interestingly enough, our scripture speaks directly to this. In verse 14 we read, May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to you, O God.

So to begin, I invite you to find a comfortable position. Take a deep breath and settle in. As you continue with mindful breathing, notice what’s going on in your body. Are there thoughts swirling in your mind? Take a moment to thank your mind for all it does for you. Then breathe and exhale any thoughts you want to release in this moment.  

Notice your neck and shoulders, breathe into any tightness they might be holding. Move down your arms and to your hands. Wiggle your fingers before settling your hands into a supportive position on your lap or chair. 

Notice your heart and any emotions you are feeling. Gently surround those emotions with loving breath. Take a few breaths here. 

Move to your belly and feel the in and out movement as you breathe. Continue to your back side and down through your legs. Thank these body parts for the ways they help you move through the world. Wiggle your toes and then reset your feet, firmly planted on the floor. 

Take a deep breath, inhaling from the tips of your toes. Take another breath, releasing any remaining areas of tightness or constriction. 

Now return to your heart. What is an experience you’ve had recently that made your heart rejoice? Savor that memory and any emotions it brings up. Now what is a recent experience that has made your heart ache? Hold yourself gently and with compassion. Breath into the ache. 

How might the Divine be inviting you to enlarge your heart? How might this enlarging of your heart bring deeper joy into your life? Breathe into this invitation.

Now bring awareness to your soul, the deep, beautiful, mysterious parts of you. In the midst of life’s challenges and the state of our world, how are you nourishing your soul? Bring to awareness people in your life who nourish your soul. Reflect on activities that enliven your soul. Ponder what invitations the Divine might be offering you to renew your soul. Breathe in curiosity and openness. 

Now imagine yourself sitting on the ground with your back against a tree and warm sunshine on your face. Feel the radiance of the sun soothing your body. Imagine the rays of the sun bringing with them the sweetness of honey. Imagine the taste of it on your tongue, its golden sweetness slowly dissolving and delighting your tastebuds. 

As the sweetness lingers and your body relaxes against the tree, feel the presence of love surrounding you. Breathe in this radiant love and let it fill your entire body. This love warms and soothes your heart. This love dwells in your soul. This love grants you the courage to respond to the invitations. The Divine invites you to enlarge your heart. The Divine invites you to renew your soul. 

Breathe in this courage with the sweetness of honey still lingering on your tongue. Breathe deeply and fully knowing you are held in love. Let us take one more breath together, as we bring this meditation to a close. 

I invite you now to return to the space you are in. Wiggling your fingers. Wiggle your toes. When you are ready, open your eyes.  

Loving Creator, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing to you. Amen.