A Little Lower than Angels
The Old Testament readings for this Trinity Sunday focus significantly on creation, with a reading from Genesis 1 and 2 and specifically Psalm 8 singing about the wonders of the Creator God.
While praising and celebrating the God of creation, the author of the song in Psalm 8 highlights the value of human beings. According to the NIV humankind was created "a little lower than the angels” and crowned with glory and honour. Some translations even say that humankind was created a little lower than God.
Sometimes we view this creator God as the God of the past, the God that created once and moved on two ‘other work’.
As I write this a severe storm is predicted for Cape Town tomorrow. I cannot help but wonder what humans will be experiencing over the next few days. I wonder if people in low-lying settlements or the homeless would experience that they are only ‘a little lower than angels’. I wonder if it is possible to view yourself as crowned with ‘glory and honour’ if you are cold and wet and hungry.
As I write this South Africa is again rocked by a spate of killings, particularly killings of women and children. I cannot help but wonder what these humans were experiencing in their last moments. I wonder if these children and women experienced that they were only ‘a little lower than angels’ or as crowned with ‘glory and honour’.
In the last few days we heard of violence and senseless deaths in Kabul and Manchester and London and Paris. I wonder if these people experienced that they were only ‘a little lower than angels’ or as crowned with ‘glory and honour’ when their lives were senselessly destroyed by bombs and cars and hammer or knife wielding strangers.
It is difficult to hear a God who creates in these circumstances.
John van de Laar, reminded me in a moving prayer that the work of creation and recreation is not over, and that God continually creates and recreates.Life-Giving, Restoring, Fulfilling God The Word you spoke, and keep speaking, O God is the life, the sustenance, of all that is – seen and unseen. The Life you gave, and keep giving, O Christ is the recreation, the renewed birth of every broken, wounded and sinful creature. The breath you breathed, and keep breathing, O Spirit is the inspiration for creativity, compassion and community that connects and unites all that God has made. Life-giving, Life-restoring, Life-fulfilling God, our worship seeks to honour you our hearts are devoted to you and our lives are completely given over to you. Amen. (http://sacredise.com/prayers/season/trinity/life-giving-restoring-fulfilling-god/)
When I read the stories of anguish and tragedy I also read the other stories in these situations of creation and recreation:
- of ‘street people’ and grandmothers coming to the assistance of young teens hurt in Manchester
- of a nurse running toward the bridge in London and giving her life in an attempt to help others
- of school children staging a protest calling for a community in which they can grow and thrive
- of churches opening their doors as shelters for those who do not have shelter and many more.
I believe that these people respond in the way they do because they understand something of this mystery that humankind was created “a little lower than angels”. In doing so, I believe that they become part of the recreating work of God. And make visible the last few lines of the prayer above. This is truly “worship (that) seeks to honour you….”
To think about: How can you stand and work with the “Life-giving, Life-restoring, Life-fulfilling God” in the midst of the challenges you face today”