This morning’s Psalm takes us through the deeds of God and the character of God, both things we constantly need to refresh our memory of to have any hope of real wisdom. This is especially true in times of grief, or crisis, or change. It’s true when a beloved parishioner dies. It’s true when there’s a fire in the attic of your church’s rectory. It’s true when you’re on the threshold of a new year of ministry. You and I constantly need to keep going back to the beginning of wisdom, to the very place the Psalm points us today -- God’s deeds, God’s character. That’s where we get both the strength to go forward and the wisdom to know where to go. We look at him and say: What has God done? What is God like?
What we’re often tempted to do, as human beings, is to look at ourselves instead. Our own shock, or our sense of loss, or our habits of self-preoccupation, may loom so large that it’s hard to look over their shoulders and see God. I know I felt like that as I drove over here on Tuesday night, long before it became clear that the fire department was going to save our building. Once I got out there, though -- standing over in West Side Park, freezing in my gym clothes, watching the first responders do their heroic work, with some of you who came by and a lot of bystanders and a lot of media -- those feelings changed. I looked over the shoulders of my fear and shock, and I saw the deeds and the character of God, and I remembered who I belong to, who Emmanuel belongs to, and who is in control of the universe.