After years of preaching primarily on the Gospel reading, I find myself for the second Sunday in a row preaching on another reading. Today, I would like to focus my attention on the psalm.
The psalmist poses a question, one that we might very well ask ourselves today: “Lord, who may dwell in your tabernacle? Who may abide upon your holy hill?” In other words, who is fit to come into the presence of God? The psalmist proceeds to answer his own question by enumerating a list of requirements. The list is by no means complete, but it does get to the heart of what it means to be righteous.
The first requirement is that we lead a blameless life, do what is right, and speak the truth from our hearts. If taken literally, we are all in trouble! For who among us has lived a blameless life? But the point stands: it is the goal of the righteous to be blameless before the Lord. Before I move on, let me say a bit more about speaking truth from the heart. This phrase means to speak what we believe in the very core of our being. It is more than just a command not to lie. It is a command to open ourselves up to others and to share the Truth that sustains our soul.
Today is the third Sunday of Easter. And yes, even though you will no longer find chocolate bunnies for sale at Safeway, it’s still Easter! And it will continue to be Easter till we reach the feast of Pentecost on May 20. As you may have noticed, there are various ways that we mark this joyous season in our worship. We use vestments of white, which in Western culture are considered festive. We burn a very large white candle. We read the Acts of the Apostles in place of the Hebrew scriptures for the first reading. We include extra Alleluias at various places in the service. And finally, the Confession of Sin is optionally omitted. During this joyous season, we pause for 50 days to ponder a single day, the Day of Resurrection, and to consider its consequences for us as disciples of Jesus.
That explains why, for the third Sunday in a row, we hear a story from that first Easter Day. It’s kind of like the movie Groundhog Day, in which Bill Murray’s character experiences the same day over and over again till he learns his lesson. Likewise, we will move on from Easter Day only when we have learned all that we need to learn from that eventful day.