The righteous flourish like the palm tree,
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
They are planted in the house of the LORD;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
In old age they still produce fruit;
they are always green and full of sap,
showing that the LORD is upright;
God is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
I’m rereading a favorite book with a colleague called, An Altar in the World. It’s a book about practice; about practicing at noticing God in the world. We’re reading it and then practicing noticing God together. The author, Barbara Brown Taylor tells us that when looking for God’s house we don’t have to choose between church buildings and the secular world. We don’t have to choose between beautiful sanctuaries and green ball fields, between tall cathedrals and long swimming pools, or between Sunday mornings and Friday evenings. Instead she invites us to remember that it’s all holy ground.
This Psalm reminds me that God is working wherever there is love and justice being done in the world. God is working in the gardens where the food is grown and in the forest where the trees reach for the heavens without instructions on how to do so. God is working among the strong arms that comfort the sick and sit patiently with the lost. God is working in church shaped buildings that host homeless youth and God is working in train station shaped buildings that host worship. This is the work of righteousness, this is the work of God’s kingdom and it’s our job to notice the places where God is working, to be planted in God, to be nourished by God and to build an altar from time to time that marks the holy ground we find ourselves standing on.
Where is God working in your day-to-day places? Where is God’s house in your neighborhood or corner of the world? How can you build an altar? This might mean setting the table in a sanctuary or setting a rock in the sand and saying a quick blessing for the beauty of a day at the beach.
May you find yourself in God’s house in both expected
and unexpected places,
May you have the time and courage to set an altar for God,
to say a prayer and remember your calling.
To do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with God.
This is our call to righteousness, this is our call to flourish.
And may you know that wherever you go,
you are at home in God.