Toorak Uniting Church

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Sweeter than honey

Psalm 19
Rev. Anneke Oppewal
9:00 am, 2 October 2005

Maps are really handy things when we try to negotiate our way around a place. Without a Melways for a lot of people it would be a lot harder to find the way around Melbourne than it is now. And maps are even more important when we travel to new and distant places and don’t want to get lost.
However: even with a map it can sometimes be pretty daunting to find our way. Especially when it is a place that is not set out on a grid like Melbourne is. I can tell you several stories about cities where I got lost, even with a map, because of their winding streets and lack of clearly visible and readable road signs. Cairo was such a place, and Rome and I am sure that you, from your experiences, can add a few other places from around the world that are difficult to negotiate.

Now in life it is not only when we visit new cities and drive around the country side that we wonder where we should go and how we will get there. When we travel through life itself we are in constant need of direction because a myriad of opportunities and possibilities will continually present themselves, with us often only having a fairly vague idea of where we are heading and what would be the shortest route to get us there. With other things coming at us from all sides and pushing us in all sorts of directions, urging us to make a decision and get moving.

What will be the best decision? What is wise? What will make us and our loved ones happy? We make decisions every day, that impact not only our lives, but also the lives of others and even the world.

How do we know we are doing the right thing? What melways will serve us when we journey through life?

Psalm 19 tells us that such a map is available through God. That God offers us help in the conundrum life so often is and has given us some directions about what is good, what is wise, what is right, and what brings joy.

First of all says Psalm 19 he has done that through the beauty of creation which shows us without words what is good and beautiful and worth pursuing. Flowers blooming in spring, the sun rising in magnificent beauty over the mountain tops, those are things that according to Psalm 19 inspire a longing in us towards a life that would be of such beauty and such magnificence. Whereas the devastation of a storm, the havock wreaked by a Tsunami show us what we should be trying to avoid. God’s law is written in nature says the psalm and it is there for everybody to read, both in its positive as well as in its negative aspects. The beauty and the goodness when it works well as well as devastation and suffering when it doesn’t.

But not only there is it that God has given us clues as to what is good and worth pursuing in life. In scripture we find words written down to guide us and help us find our way in life. Guidelines that will show us the way to a life brimming with joy and warn us away from what will hurt and cause suffering and pain.

The most significant of those are the 10 commandments and the great commandment in Deuteronomy 31 that Jesus held up before his disciples as the most important commandment of all.

And there are stories, a whole Bible full, to tell us what is wise and life giving and what will cause harm and difficulty.
A gift from God, given to us to help us journey through life. A gift offered to us to help us find direction and make the right choices.

When printed the Hebrew text of the 10 commandments takes the shape of a chalice, a beautiful cup from which to drink life and get a handle on it. A beautiful image of what the law is given to us for: To enable us to drink freely from life and get a handle on it.

With the coming of Christ not a tittle or iota has changed in that. On the contrary. As followers of Christ, liberated by the grace of God, the longing in us to lead a godly life should be even stronger than before. Who knows him or herself loved by God even more motivated to live by his rules than before.
The only thing that has changed is that Jesus showed us that it is love more than anything that should rule our lives and determine our directions.

Communion is yet another way in which God shows us his way. Another way in which he seeks to give us guidelines and clear indicators as to how we can shape our life and living in such a way that it is a worthy answer to the love God gives us. The breaking and sharing of bread and wine is a parable of what life can be if we live it like the liberated people we are. Breaking and sharing with each other, trusting God to provide us with what we need, accepting each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. At the table we remember how Jesus came and showed us God’s love and compassion for the down and out. At the table we are given to each other as the body of Christ in the world, called to live, work, and act in his name. So nature, scripture and the fellowship of the table are all designed to help us find our way to a life dripping with love, peace and justice like honey from the comb. A life close to God and in the image of Christ. Amen.

© Rev. Anneke Oppewal, 2005

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