We continue our summer worship series, Notice Grace All Summer, with reflection on picnics. We will be invited to consider what the church might learn from the practice of eating “outdoors”.
Worship will be rooted in Psalm 107.1-9,43. This Psalm is usually categorized as…a song of thanksgiving and may have been used as a congregational liturgy accompanying a thanksgiving sacrifice offered in the Temple….it is helpful to think of it as a sermon on God’s steadfast love (‘hesed’). When we picnic we rely either on our own ability or that of the host to “bring everything necessary” to make, serve and eat a meal outdoors. How might that trust translate to trusting God?
Scholar James Mays writes of Psalm 107: What sets the hesed (“steadfast love”) of the Lord in motion in every case is the cry to the Lord in trouble. The psalm sees the hesed of the Lord manifest in salvation completely in this way. It elevates the prayer for help, the voice of dependence on God, to the central place in relation to God.
“Psalm 107 suggests, therefore, that there are certain typical things we can count on as we look for fresh correspondences between our experience and God’s word and work. For instance, humanity is essentially weak, needy and sinful. Persons who are “wise” and “heed these things” will realize there is never a time when they are not in ‘trouble’…Thus the message of Psalm 107 is simple but radical: There is ultimately no such thing as self-sufficiency, for human life depends on God. The good news is that we can depend on God. God is good, and God shares God’s goodness. God love us with a steadfast love, and Christians profess that this love is manifested in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (compiled from NIB, oVl II, pp 117-119)
Alex Heminway, in his book “Picnics” writes: “What is a greater argument for eating outdoors than the chance to see a frog swallow a dragonfly? None. Despite the sudden bites, harmony governs a pond. Its constituents know something about accord: turtles, frogs, and dragonflies have endured a ripple or two, the Cretaceous extinction for one. In the Power of Limits, architect George Dock wrote, ‘By harmony we generally mean a fitting, orderly and pleasant joining of diversities, which in themselves may harbor many contrasts.’
Remember a “picnic from your past”. What “joining of diversities” have you witnessed? What about picnics is different from eating your meal at home at the kitchen table?