First Person, Second Person, Third Person

Today’s meditation is a connection of grammar and theology, fueled by Psalm 5.

Who is the first person?

Think carefully before you answer.

The first person in my life, from my own perspective, was myself.  The first person, in grammar, is “I”, “me”.

The first person in existence was God — who exists in three persons.  The Father is designated as the first person in the Trinity.

Psalms 5:7 NLT “Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house; I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe.”

When reading Scripture, grammar can point to insights that are not available on quick reading, but rewards for careful analysis.

I am blessed today by the first-person perspective: “*I* can enter your house”, “*I* will worship.”

Today is a day to commit to being like the psalmist — dear God, thank you for the reminder that my life should not be bound up with events and occurrences from the outside, but should reflect a choice that *I* make, to enter your house and worship.

Who is the second person?

That depends… who am I talking to?

Currently, I am talking to you, dear reader.  Welcome.

Who is the psalmist talking to?  Amazing… talking to God.  Prayer is such a privilege and a lifeline to what really matters.  How often I am distressed by the obvious, and neglect the real and true — “Oh, what peace we often forfeit; oh, what needless pain we bear — all because we do not carry/ Everything to God in prayer.”

“Because of *your* unfailing love, I can enter *your* house; I will worship at *your* Temple with deepest awe.”

Today is a day to commit to being like the psalmist — person-to-person communication to our Lord and our Creator.

Our source of life is found in God — it is His love that opens the way to His house, and I worship Him at His Temple.  The remainder of Psalm 5 explains and develops this relationship of dependence and fulfillment, as I bring my requests to God.

Dear God, thank you for the blessing of second-person communion. You are not distant; You are here.

And also, the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ the Son, has made the way for us to come to the Father, and say, “Hallowed be *Your* name.”

This verse in Psalm 5 does not have the third person of grammar — but yes, the Third Person, the Holy Spirit, is unseen in the background, always working to honor the Father and the Son, connecting my heart and mind and soul to the Triune God.

Dear God, thank you for blessing me today with grammar, and with the trinitarian presence that welcomes me to enter Your house and worship at Your temple.

 

“He walks on the wings of the wind”

Today I was doing my scheduled reading in the Psalms, and I was given this passage:

Psalm 104:1-3

1 Let all that I am praise the LORD.
O LORD my God, how great you are!
You are robed with honor and majesty.
2 You are dressed in a robe of light.
You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens;
3 you lay out the rafters of your home in the rain clouds.
You make the clouds your chariot;
you ride upon the wings of the wind.

I made a graphic with these verses, and shared it to social media… But then I remembered about Hurricane Dorian, which surely will be seen as a source of suffering and grief for many people — but here I am, telling everyone that God is in the rain and the wind.

.s1

That brought to my mind the sermon from this weekend, where Pastor Shane mentioned the “various ways” in which God communicates to us, which includes speaking through creation.  Yet, as developed in Hebrews 1 and in the book of Romans, creation by itself is not a complete revelation of God — the natural world has been marred by sin and dysfunction — it “groans”, waiting for a future redemption.

So although God is in the clouds and rain and wind, there is a larger perspective in which we need to interpret God’s nature — and that is found in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

I can’t necessarily tell you all the details for how you personally should interpret natural events — things like hurricanes or cancer or epidemics — but this I know: to look in the face of Jesus, to see his love and mercy, and also to see his power and authority, will bring the revelation of God that you need.

Let him speak to you, through his Holy Spirit, in his Word, and through his people.

I conclude with this beautiful song of praise, from Terry Talbot:

 

The cosmic “up”

John 3:31: “He who comes from above is above all.”

If I mention the “ups and downs” of life, then you think about how life is a mixture of good and bad.  But think about the unusual geography of a place called heaven — which is always “up”, no matter where we are.

One of the most influential teachers in my life was Carl B. Hoch, Jr., professor of New Testament studies at seminary in Grand Rapids, MI.  One of the courses that he taught was an investigation of terms in the writings of John.

Consider, then, the relationship of Jesus to heaven, to that which is above.

John 6:51 “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven.”

John 6:62 “What if you see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?”

John 8:23 “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.”

No wonder the people of His time were amazed: how can this man, whom we know and have lived beside, tell us that He has come down from heaven?  This radical message from Jesus of Nazareth eventually led to His crucifixion; yet also led to His resurrection and ascension.

The life-changing message for us…  if we are “in Christ”, then we also are “from above”:

Phil. 3:20 — But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (ESV)

Col. 3: 1-3 — Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.  Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.  For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. (NLT)

Mt. 6:9-10 — “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ ”

Prayer: Dear Jesus, Open my eyes to see my true home, in heaven, and to place my heart there, with you, that I may do the will of Our Father, as it is in heaven.

 

What is most important about your Father’s house?

Jesus said, “Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” (New Living Translation)

(link to the text)

This brings to mind a cultural-language-social question: do I remember my father’s house?

We often speak of a house with reference to the mother — “We’re staying at my mom’s house” — especially when she works hard to make a house into a home, and the design reflects her choices.

So what about my dad?  What made that place, where he lived, my father’s house?

Simple answer: *he* did… whenever I spent time with him, at his house, it was then my father’s house.

He decided to be there, and to talk to me, and (from my view, so important) to listen to me, and to infuse his life into mine.  It makes my eyes water to recall those times.

So Jesus has a unique claim on His Father’s house — Jesus knows the Father, in the deepest sense — and Jesus sees the marketplace, like a circus sideshow, pulling attention away from the precious gift of His Father’s presence.

Recall: the boy Jesus, sought by Mary and Joseph, says, “I must be in that which is of my Father” (my translation of Luke 2:49) — the New Living Translation says, “in my Father’s house.”

Consider the great desire, which Jesus taught us to pray: “Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven” — and Jesus said, “There are many rooms in my Father’s house” (John 14:2).

To be with Him… the most loving, kind, good, strong, creative, joyful, wise, interesting Father… He wants to meet with me, in my Father’s house.

Prayer: Dear Jesus: drive out the noisy distractions; bring me to your Father.

Unconventional choices — two sides

Jesus turned water into wine.

(link to the text)

He did it for us — for me, for you — so that we could know the joy of rule-breaking in the right way.

Rules that I see being broken:

  • By his mother:  when Jesus says, “My hour is not yet come”, I would take that as a “No”, but she doesn’t.
  • The water pots are for cleansing according to various rituals, not for wine storage.
  • In hyper-conservative culture, we attack anyone who provides alcoholic beverages — like Jesus?
  • The good wine is supposed to come at the beginning.

So there is a clear indication that Jesus messes up the standard way of living, by going against the rules — and in dramatic fashion:  “Fill the water pots with water” seems OK, but the revelation waits for the right moment.

Yet… we also know that expressing rebellion and defiance by breaking rules will bring death and a curse, not blessing and joy.

As I reflect on my life, I see a lot of unconventional twists and turns.  And I believe your life also does not follow the rules.

Food for thought: is my rule-breaking life a channel of blessing, or cursing?  The fruit of the Spirit, or the actions of the sinful nature?

Prayer: Dear Jesus, change my water into wine.