February 20, 2018
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Psalm 51: 10
This Lenten season, our theme is “Create In Me”, and from that theme, the Worship Arts Team faithfully sought the Spirit to find an image. During our time of discernment, the nest became the prevailing concept, and the nest above your heads in the sanctuary is the result of our process. It is formed from the birch branches from the yards and paths of those on the team, and inside are the felted eggs that symbolize Plymouth's promise, to hatch anew with a new, God-ordained vision of hope.
Upon reading the phrase, “…Create in me…” one might think, “God, create, and add to me and to my circumstances. Create something new, something more so that I might have enough and have a token that you are near.” While this is a reasonable consideration, let’s consider a different perspective. Art is not always about adding more material. Creating is as much about stripping away as it is adding more. Ask Micheangelo.
The verse above comes from the psalm sung by David after Nathan confronted his sin concerning Bathsheba. You might remember that David saw Bathsheba bathing, and his lust for her ran rampant. He sent for her, slept with her, and had her husband placed on the front lines of war, all in an effort to hide his sin. Nathan called him out, not to embarrass or expose him necessarily, but to put him before God, authentic and free from hiding. It is the only posture that allows for reconciliation with ourselves and with God. We must risk being bare, reduced even, to be fit to find our way home to God.
Rather than resisting complicity or guilt, David sang a song of remorse. He sang a song to God, asking for forgiveness and that their close and loving relationship be restored. David asked that God would do what only the Holy One can do—create in him a heart that was “clean”, as in washed and purified by God.
How refreshing! This is countercultural and a rare vision of a path to wholeness. It is a Lenten vision. Somehow, we are called to imagine that we are born into a nest, held by God, but not simply for rest or comfort. It doesn't matter our state, or what we have or haven't done. This nest is formed to hold us while we transform and prepare for new life, a life that is not only our own, but one that makes us ready to repent; to stand for justice; to tell the truth; to hear the truth without running for cover; to remain present to those in despair; to speak a word of love to those who feel unloveable, especially if we are the ones. The holding place may be where we are struck with the honesty of a Nathan, and where a prophet calls us to the carpet, where we are stripped, but not destroyed. David enjoyed right relationship once again.
This is our invitation: we must have faith that God is at the end of every journey, including the uncomfortable ones filled with tears, and full of challenge. The nest, then, is less about comfort and being nurtured in the traditional sense, and more of a place for our gracious preparation to become all God imagined for us.
We all have our own need of our nest, however, as a community, this is our opportunity to grow together, be honest without fear; to discern, reflect, and learn for our own benefit and for the world. The nest is not available for long, and soon it will turn into a launching place from which we go forward in love, faith, and courage. God is faithful to create in us just what we need. Over the course of Lent, if we strengthen our covenant and build the Beloved Community, I declare—God will prepare us to soar! We the people can fly.