Scholars suggest that Psalm 15 is an “entrance liturgy,” a psalm offered in preparation for the faithful to enter the house of God. The question posed in the psalm is both an earnest imploring and a teaching moment. Who is worthy enough to abide in God’s presence? There is a beautiful aspect to this question: It presumes that we can abide and dwell in God’s presence. As if it weren’t grace enough that God permits us to know God and speak to God, God also permits us to abide and dwell, to stay in God’s presence, and to be in continual worshipful relationship with God. But what does that presence mean? How do we get to abide there?
As with all things, we have been given free choice to live by God’s tenets or to do things our way. We can dwell in the holy presence if we’re willing to do what God requires of us. The choice to do things God’s way always seems costly. We may have to live in ways that do not come easily for us, like putting others’ needs before our own or choosing vulnerability and humility over self-protection and pride. But eventually we learn that God holds us to these terms because God knows that we are our best selves when we are in healthy relationship with God and with one another. So it makes sense that the requirement for who gets to dwell with God is wrapped up tightly with how well we live in relationship with one another. How we treat our friends and our neighbors, even those who may not be our friends, has direct repercussions on how we dwell with God.
Lord, you call me to be a better version of myself because you want me to experience fullness of life in relationship with you and others. Open my heart to receive your call to dwell in you through my words and actions with others. Amen.
We must beware counterfeit gospels. According to one current counterfeit gospel, we deserve God’s favor based on our deeds or intellect or status. The readings for this week remind us that this is false. Yes, the Israelites offer sacrifices, but they are first and foremost called to show mercy because they have received divine mercy. The psalmist asks who can stand in God’s holy dwelling and so provides a list of ways to live morally. Ultimately no one can stand before God on merit alone. Paul reminds the Corinthians that human wisdom is foolishness compared to the wisdom of God, and thus we should not puff ourselves up based on our intellect. Jesus teaches that those who may seem insignificant in the eyes of the world are great in the kingdom of heaven.
Read Micah 6:1-8. How have you let down God? What changes can you make to recommit to your relationship with God?
Read Psalm 15. Consider the notion that the requirements for dwelling with God are in how we treat our friends and neighbors. How does this change the ways you seek God?
Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. When have you seen God’s work in the world in a way that is antithetical to human standards?
Read Matthew 5:1-12. How do you maintain a poverty of spirit in your relationship with God? How does this help you to serve God and others?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.