What we need from religion

Psalm 85
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Ps 85:10

What do you need to get out of your worship experience? Think about this carefully. Write it down. And in a minute, I’m going to tell you my top two. Let me ask it this way, “What do we need to be spiritual people in today’s world?”

Okay. I think religion is all about living right and being at peace. Or to put it another way, doing day to day the things that prove us to be godly, principled, people of integrity – and, at the same time, having an inner peace. Can you say, “it is well with my soul?” Can you be a calm center in the midst of the trauma going on around you? On the one hand, do you have an unwavering loyalty to God, and on the other, an unflappable-ness that enables you to be the non-anxious presence in your situation? I think these two things, righteousness and peace, are what we seek in our walk with God. These two traits – one a way of right living, and the other a way of peaceful being, are what we seek to reinforce each week as we worship.

 In Psalm 85 we hear this promise: “Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.” (85:10) 

I especially like the use of that word kiss. If you have ever played Bocce, the goal of each round is to place your team’s balls closest to the Pallino– the little white ball that is thrown out first. The court is long, and this is more difficult than it looks. But, every once and a while, someone throws a perfect pitch. Their ball gently rolls up to the Pallinoand touches it. Then the cry goes up, “Look! They kiss.” 

Psalm 85 gives us hope. The spiritual life is difficult. We all fail. Often, we fail because we lack the flexibility to let our righteousness and our peace kiss each other. Nothing disrupts a good marriage like one person, usually me, trying to be right all the time. We often seek to force peace into a day where we have been anything but godly. Righteousness and peace rarely kiss in our lives. But, Psalm 85 promises that they can. Not by doubling our efforts. But by allowing heaven and earth to meet in us.

Psalm 85 is often called the Christmas psalm. It reminds us of angels singing to shepherds as they watch their flocks in the night. It says, look for the moment when heaven and earth meet. Let your life be open for this miracle, “Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.” (verse 10).

So, what did you write down as the two things you seek for in worship each week? Are they as valuable to you as righteousness and peace? As I said before, spirituality requires a certain flexibility. We have to give up on self-righteousness and accept God’s unconditional grace. We have to stop trying to force peace into our situation and take a step back. Breathe. Let God connect the dots. Let heaven and earth kiss.

When heaven and earth kiss
Pentecost 7