Let’s play a classic little game.
Brothers and sisters look behind you.
I’m ready. Come and find me…
Playing is an important part of life. Relationships develop and transform through play. Not only is it essential for children’s development. People of all ages grow through play. I recall one indigenous elder in Manitoba commenting on how play was a part of most gatherings.
One of the first games we learn to play is —- hide and seek.
Infants are captivated by peek a boo. Discovering the hidden face brings giggles and smiles. As object permanence develops so does the game.
I have particular knowledge of the game for the early years, around 1-7 years.
Often, for the young it is characterized by wanting to hide in the same place, over and over again. Sometimes, calling out mama while hiding. Telling me where they are going to hide. And that I didn’t search long enough.
As the search unfolds… You can hear the excitement bubbling when you get near. Pure delight comes when the child sees your face and you see their face.
It’s in the finding and being found that life and light come into being.
Over the years, Churches have been excellent places for children to play hide and seek. With secret hiding nooks and wide open spaces to explore. I’ve seen the kids play it here in this places and have been asked on more than one occasion if I have seen a certain hidden person. I’ve heard some of you mention these games and favourite hiding places either as a young one yourself or your children.
While hide and seek is usually considered a child’s game. Playing together is done for team building exercises for high functioning workplaces. There is actually an adult Hide and Seek World championship in ….
Yes, play is essential for childhood developed.
Adults benefit from play. Yes, we play hide and seek in church and in the world.
In church we adults are good at hiding behind our bulletins, hymnals, in our pews, sometimes we hide in the comfort of doing things the way they’ve always been done. We hide behind our denominational banner or within our great sanctuaries.
Pastor’s are good at hiding behind the pulpit. Safety comes when something is between you and other people. A cell phone. Ear phones. Fences. Doors. We protect an important part of us.
It’s important for adults to play together. It builds community dynamics that might not develop in regular day to day business. Play allows the inner child to be nurtured and helps us to approach life with fresh new eyes and spirit. To splash in the puddles and laugh with our gut. To leave negativity on the front porch and be inspired by the rising sun. To approach a challenge with new eyes, even as our eyes have seen.
I wonder sometimes, if this captures part of what Jesus spoke, when he encouraged us to be like little children when receiving the kingdom of God. Discover me anew with the curiosity and playfulness of a child. For in playfulness, there is good innocent fun.
Here I am, Lord. There you are, beloved child.
Hide and seek. Yes, we adults play it too.
Relevant Text: Psalm 27
The beloved psalm this Sunday uses the words and imagery of the game hide and seek.
The psalmist sings, Hide me in the hidden places of the sanctuary.
We here at St. Matthews can really appreciate these words. Think of all the lovely spaces you can go for a moment of peaceful reflection.
In psalm 27 we hear these action verbs about humankind and God…
Humankind is active - seeks, dwells, gazes upon the beauty, seeks again and again, rejoices while making offerings, sings music to the Lord, makes music to the Lord, gives thanks, laments, complains, and remembers God’s faithfulness, trusts
While God - gives shelter and refuge and a safe place in times of trouble. God hides them like a mother hen hides her chicks under her wings …
Now, if you are a numbers person and this is the language you speak and that speaks to you …
seek appears 4 times
hide appears twice
What does the psalmist seek?
- The psalmist seeks God. In the temple.
- The psalmist seeks to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
* The psalmist seeks a place to hide from trouble. Where heads will be lifted high above and they will be raised upon a rock even as enemies surround.
We might wonder…
Who is hiding - in this game of hide and seek?
God or humanity?
The psalmist pleas to God:
Hide not your face from me, God. Don’t turn away in anger.
It’s as if God is playing a game of hide and seek with the psalmist.
A game of hide and seek between God and Humanity
Luther was intrigued by this game of hide and seek. Often describing God as the hidden God who actively hides in the world. Hiding not to be found where we look.
Instead God Reveals. Surprising us.
God’s game of hide and seek is both predictable and not.
Hiding in some of the places we know and expect.
Such as water and wine and bread. Hidden faithfully in scripture - waiting to be found in the word we speak and sing.
But, the hidden God that Luther spoke about was one who hides not to be found only in the places where we seek.
If God was hiding only in the places we thought to look,
think of how many place would be missed.
We’d likely look to find God in the people who are similar to us,
in belief, appearance, upbringing, interests, socio economic, culture.
The master hide and seek player,
hides in people and places we’d never even dream of looking. Hiding in order not to be found where humans want to find God but hiding to be found where God wants to be found.
In such places as on a cross. Life was found in death.
Or in an infant, Jesus. Power present in weakness.
As the holy spirit, breath and wind that blows where it may.
The Hidden God.
The one the psalmist seeks. The one we seek. The one who seeks us.
The one who reveals to us, God’s very self in the world.
Christ reconciling the world to God.
What would happen if text was applied?
What would happen if we applied psalm 27 to life.
This psalm has some practical implications when applied to our lives as disciples.
First, we can take something from the opening verse.
The psalm opens with a robust and confident statement of trust in God’s faithfulness.
The Lord is my light and salvation in whom I trust.
Light is synonymous with life. In the ancient word light came from the sun and lamp. Light allows us to gaze upon beauty. In darkness we might not see God’s beauty even when present. This is a a strong statement of trust. Of what he knows God to be.
The Lord is my light and salvation in whom I trust.
You know, it’s like when someone asks you how you are doing. Your family has been sick, you hurt yourself, where does the money go, the division of labour bit, some people are annoying you etc. You know the complaints of life. Who wants to share these. Instead, open with a statement of trust about God. One of my favourite opening statement of trust would be, God is Good. All the time.
Leading with words of God’s goodness, mercy, love …..Leading with gratefulness.
Leading with connection.
What would yours be?
Second, when psalm 27 is applied to life we gather that God’s promise to give shelter does not mean that we are taken out of a challenging situation.
The request is made, to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
The promise is given, that in the day a trouble…
God will give shelter. But how does God give shelter.
If we take this further, it says that God will raise you on a rock.
Picture the imagery of this. Imagine standing in a group of people. Now, you see that big rock over there? Stepping on a rock, or any elevated place. What does that do? Why?
Step up on the rock to see beyond the troubles of the world. To be reminded of what is beyond.
To see beyond the trouble.
But it also keeps the psalmist in the midst of enemies. Likely, it is not the case that we have many enemies. It is more likely that we have people who are different from us in opinions of politics or religion or economics or …… you name it. In a way, it says, you are surrounded by diversity, you can live well among it. There is blessing in it.
It might say, you are surrounded by a world that can be downright scary and confusing at times.
Your head has been lifted high above.
You have been raised upon a rock.
To see beyond the trouble.
To be present in the midst of grace.
Finally, when psalm 27 is applied to life we hear that this is a message for today. The goodness of the Lord will be seen in the land of the living. That beauty will be seen in present. Out of God’s light shines something beautiful. The people sing and make music to the Lord, rejoicing in giving/offerings.
Vs. 13 I believe I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage, wait for the Lord.
So, brothers and sisters, children of the light.
A game of hide and seek, anyone?
A net is cast. God is playing. The cast is wide.
5 4 3 2 1
Ready or not, you are going to be caught!
Sources of Inspiration:
Paulson, S. Luther on the Hidden God. Word & World.