Preached at Korean United Church - The Eighth Day
| Psalms 118
||Sun, April 13, 2003
Rev. Ed Searcy
|Today is the LORD’s day. It is the Sabbath day. But it is more. It is the eighth day of the week. This is the surprising weekly calendar of Christians. On Sunday we mark the eighth day of creation. The eighth day? Yes. Even today, on Palm Sunday, as we look ahead to the terror of Good Friday we cannot help but be an Easter people. Sunday is the first day of God’s new creation, God’s kingdom come. Easter breaks into the world even as we enter the drama of Holy Week. This is made clear in Psalm 118. It is the Psalm that is read on both Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. This is a rather wonderful coincidence in our life as a church here and now. Psalm 118 is the final Psalm to be read while Korean United Church meets here, in Renfrew United Church. It will also be the first Psalm to be read when this congregation gathers next Sunday at its new home in Burnaby. Psalm 118 is a Psalm for the eighth day. It is a song of God’s power to create a surprising new future.
Notice how the psalm begins. Four times in four verses the same refrain, over and over – “YHWH’s steadfast love endures for ever!” Do you hear? This is the gospel that lies at the heart of the Bible. It is not a new word in the New Testament. At the core of the Old Testament is YHWH, who is most often referred to as a God of “hesed” – a God of steadfast love. Not a God of fickleness. YHWH’s love is not romanticized. YHWH knows that this relationship, this covenant, this marriage will demand divine endurance. It is this steadfast love of the LORD that is revealed to the world in the drama of Holy Week. Here all of us who do not have Jewish mothers are welcomed into the story of the steadfast love of YHWH. Here Canadians and Americans and Koreans watch as Jesus is rejected and crucified. On Holy Saturday he is dead and buried. There is a long silence in the face of the powers of death. We are tempted to imagine that God cannot overcome the forces of terror and sin that compel the world to violate the ways of God. But then, on Sunday, he is risen. Then, on Sunday, the “hesed” of the LORD is revealed. In the resurrection of the rejected one we see the that “YHWH’s steadfast love endures for ever!”. YHWH’s steadfast love endures on the other side of Good Friday’s aching tragedy and Holy Saturday’s deep grief.
As Psalm 118 sings: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing: it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Which day has the LORD made? Not just any day! Not simply another day in seven day week. No. The LORD has made a new day. YHWH has taken one rejected as worthless and made him the key stone in the new Temple. This is the new thing that God is doing. God is making a new creation, a new age, a new people out of the stone that is rejected as worthless. It is this new day in creation that we celebrate together on Sunday. The first seven days of creation are surely filled with wonder and awe and natural beauty. But it is the eighth day that brings us together here. We are a people who witness the power of God to make new, to create even now.
This is the source of our future and of our hope. The 118th Psalm knows that the next word about our future is God’s. In one verse we sing “let us rejoice and be glad in it.” In the next verse we plead: “Save us, we beseech you, O LORD.” We are tempted to go it alone. This is a ‘do it yourself’ culture. When we are in trouble we easily forget that we live in the eighth day of creation, “the day that the LORD has made”. Yet, in spite of our amnesia, God does not forget. The steadfast love of the LORD endures forever. In Jesus Christ we meet the Good Shepherd who saves lost sheep and denying disciples. Thank heavens! Thank heavens that our story is much bigger than our struggles to maintain buildings and meet budgets and manage presbyteries. Thank heavens that we are caught up in the new day that the LORD has made and is making. Thank heavens that our future – and the future of the whole creation – is in the outstretched hands of YHWH, whose steadfast love endures forever. “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Amen.