“Why Did God Make Me?”
Bless the Lord, O my soul.
O Lord my God, you are very great.
You are clothed with honor and majesty,
2 wrapped in light as with a garment.
You stretch out the heavens like a tent,
3 you set the beams of your chambers on the waters,
you make the clouds your chariot,
you ride on the wings of the wind,
4 you make the winds your messengers,
fire and flame your ministers.
5 You set the earth on its foundations,
so that it shall never be shaken.
6 You cover it with the deep as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
7 At your rebuke they flee;
at the sound of your thunder they take to flight.
8 They rose up to the mountains, ran down to the valleys
to the place that you appointed for them.
9 You set a boundary that they may not pass,
so that they might not again cover the earth.
10 You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
they flow between the hills,
11 giving drink to every wild animal;
the wild asses quench their thirst.
12 By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation;
they sing among the branches.
13 From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
14 You cause the grass to grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to use,
to bring forth food from the earth,
15 and wine to gladden the human heart,
oil to make the face shine,
and bread to strengthen the human heart.
One of my favorite albums is Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks. It is an absolutely beautiful set of songs, it came out fifty years ago, and still I have never heard anything that sounds like it. It’s mystical. It’s ethereal. It’s a combination of jazz and folk and violins and cellos and trumpets and guitars that offer visions of gardens and rain and dancing and love and friends and a home greater than anything we have known today.
If you have never listened to the album, I highly recommend you do so as quickly as possible.
And what makes this album so unique, and I believe so unique and beautiful, is how it was made. Van Morrison wrote the lyrics of each song as a stream of consciousness, not filtering things out or trying to have them all make sense, but filling the page with images of wonder and curiosity. And then finally when the lyrics were down and he had some chord progressions figured out, he went into the studio with incredibly talented musicians he had never met before. He was nervous and intimidated by them, so instead of telling them how to play each song, he strummed a few chords and then just allowed them to play. There was no written sheet music, no “You have to do it this way.” Instead, the drummers, the bassists, the trumpet players, the violinists, the pianists created the music as they were hearing it. It wasn’t all plotted out. Instead it was wild and free and creative. It could have been a complete mess. But instead, after only three recording sessions with these people having freedom and trust and the willingness to see what would come, they created what I think is one of the greatest albums ever made.
Astral Weeks breaks every rule. And because of it, we get something absolutely beautiful, unlike anything that has ever come before or after.
When I read this psalm, Psalm 104, I think that God creates in much the same way. What God values is something unique, something creative, something that is free and wild and unlike what we have ever seen before. That’s why we get springs gushing forth, and birds singing, and donkeys being wild, and leviathan playing, and wind rushing by and fire burning bright. And it’s why God made us the way we are.
When I was in college, I was a philosophy major. And around my second semester, I was puzzled by one big question: why did God make us? It made no logical sense. We break God’s rules. We hurt others. We are messy. We are imperfect. We have differences that we don’t always like. We make rash decisions. We like doing things our way.
And I kept thinking, “Wouldn’t it have simply been easier if God didn’t make us, but just made more angels. Shouldn’t God have just made more creatures who always follow God, who never make mistakes, who follow a clear set pattern, and always do things in the same way?” Why would God make us, who are so much more work? Why did God make us as humans?
And the answer that finally came, is a simple one, but a hard to believe one. We make this universe more beautiful. We delight God. You make this universe more beautiful. You delight God. And not by following every rule, or fitting into exactly what’s expected. Not by having to pass any test others will throw at you. But by simply being you. By simply being someone unique and unlike anyone who has come before or will come after.
God made us humans because God wanted a wild world. God wanted a free world. God wanted a world full of creativity, wonder, and new life. God could have made us robots if that’s what God wanted. But God wanted us to have will, to have choice, to have creativity and freedom. God made us and then said, “I can’t wait to see what you will do. Because you will be doing a new thing.” God made us so that we may be the salt of the earth, bringing new flavor and color and beauty into this universe.
God made you because the world is better simply by you existing, simply by you being unlike anyone else.
That is a hard message for us to trust as adults. Somehow it is easier as kids. But as adults we become more jaded, more negative towards ourselves, more believing that we must earn God’s delight or fit perfectly into expectations. But those expectations are often ours, and not God’s.
God has already called us good, from the first moment we were made. As Dana read for us this morning from Genesis 1: “God blessed them…and indeed, it was very good.” And in our Psalm this morning, for everything else God creates there is a purpose, some function it does. But for humans, in Psalm 104, all God wants is for us God’s love and joy is already for you. God’s already smiling because you are alive. You don’t need to earn it. What you need to do is trust it and live into it.
And I believe the best way to be who we were made to be is to be wild like the album “Astral Weeks.” Be creative. Take risks. Be wild and free. Seek that which seems impossible. Do the things that bring you joy, because they bring God joy. Dance. Sing. Paint. Write. Hike mountains. Dive into seas. Share new ideas with friends. Laugh and play and don’t worry if you fit into what’s expected. God made you to be the unexpected. God made you to be you.
And the world is more beautiful because you are in it.
I want you to know that message this day. It’s one we need to hear. A colleague of mine told me a few weeks ago how she often is filled with negative thoughts about herself. “Why can’t I act like this, why can’t I look this way, why can’t I fit in to how others are? And she is a pastor. She knew those voices were loud. But she also knew they weren’t from God, and they weren’t what lead into life. And so, she went one day into the big mirror in her bathroom, what she sees first thing in the morning, and she wrote on it in marker: “You are worthy of God’s love.” And every morning, before those voices that tell us lies about who we are can get in, she hears this voice, the voice of our God who loves us and is smiling simply because we exist.
To remember that message this day, I want you to come up here and remember promises of baptism. When Jesus came up from the water a dove came down and a voice spoke saying “This my son. With him, I am very happy.” Through the Holy Spirit and through these waters, that message is also for us. Because of you, God is very happy. So, I invite you as we sing our next song, to come up, dip your hand into this water, and take out a not quite perfect stone, and as you do, I want you to say this to yourself. “I make this world more beautiful.” It may sound silly at first. But it’s true. It’s what God already knows. And it’s what God wants to share with you. Amen.