What is the one thing that we human beings can habitually say to each other in order to stand our best chance of fulfilling our telos as human beings?
Maybe it is: “I love you.” Another candidate might be: “Thank you.” Or: “I forgive you.” Or perhaps, as shop clerks and pastors and colleagues at work have said many times to me: “How can I help you?” These are all good ideas. Grace-filled ideas.
But Psalm 95 gives us another idea that may excel beyond all of them, or take causal or permissive priority before all of them: “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!”
Is it possible that only if and after we have sung together to the Lord we will be able to love each other unfailingly? Is it possible that only after we have, together, entered into the Lord’s presence with thanksgiving will we be able to say thank you to each other—sincerely, not tactically?
I think it is not only possible but likely. I do not think this means that we are or should be able to behave with full humanity only to the people within the narrowly defined “us” of our fellow worshipers in our local congregation, or our own national denomination, or global communion, or only with sharers in our own religio-ideological orientation.
The common grace of the sovereign above all gods is so liberal that the neighbor who chants in a temple on Saturday, or kneels to the floor on Friday, or does neither but regularly joins others in self-sacrificial service to an anonymous something greater than herself is also a sharer, with those who recite the creed and sing the alleluia on Sunday, in the possibility of a global “I love you, I thank you, I forgive you, how may I help you?” that might make life on this troubled planet endurable, sustainable, or even joyful.
Perhaps only the blinding light of a periodic moment of sustained gazing at the sun of our souls, when we also peripherally but with epiphanic effect glimpse each other illuminated in that light, can shatter the mirror of the self-focused staring and consequent heart-hardening into which we otherwise so naturally, so relentlessly recede.
“Come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!”