Preaching The Lectionary Psalms for Cycles A, B, C
(See Proper 19/Pentecost 17/Ordinary Time 24, Cycle C, for an alternative approach.)
This psalm reflects on what Gerhard Von Rad termed "practical atheism." It's not that there are those who decide, intellectually, that God does not exist. Rather, there are those who in their hearts say, "There is no God." The psalmist has in mind those who act and make decisions as though there were no God to hold them accountable. It is entirely possible that there are those who confess with their lips that God is real, but then act is if God does not exist.
Wilton Lewis stood with his hands on his hips, studying the sanctuary wall, not trusting himself to speak. He wanted to spit, was thwarted by the fact that he was inside, and instead swallowed hard and said, “This is vile. Disgusting and vile.” He turned to his right and added, “I apologize, Reverend Cashmore. This does not represent the good people of Port William. You know that, I hope.”
Since Albert Einstein is considered the genius above all geniuses, he is often credited quotes he never said. (If Einstein said it, it must be true.) That includes the saying that insanity is defined as doing the same thing again and again and expecting to get a different result. Actually, it wasn't until the 1980's that he was first connected to that saying, but it doesn't matter who actually said it, because these three scriptures seem to validate the saying.
Seven years ago, our family moved from southern Virginia to northeast Wisconsin. As you might expect, spring comes later here. Fall comes earlier. And winter is a much different experience in northeast Wisconsin than it was in southern Virginia. The same temperatures that seemed bone-chilling in Virginia are good reason to leave the mufflers and mittens at home in Wisconsin. Of course, many of the retired folks in my congregation here take their cue from the geese and fly south for the winter each year.