Above Our Heads

Jewish Yarmulke

Scriptures

Isaiah 6:5 And I (Isaiah) said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Psalm 138:2 “I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness; for you have exalted your name and your word above everything.”

I Corinthians 15:9 “For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle because I persecuted the church of God.”

Luke 5:8 “But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”

Thought for the Day

The prophet Isaiah, the Psalmist, Paul, and Peter react to God’s presence with startle, awe, reverence, an overwhelming sense of smallness, a deep awareness of the ways they offend God, and deference to God. Isaiah experiences a profound woe of despair. The Psalmist bows toward the holy temple. Paul understands he is unfit for his ministry were it not for the grace of God. And Peter can’t hide from the knowledge Jesus has of his inner life. Even though each of them experiences the presence of God in varying ways, all of them submit to the sovereignty of God over their lives and above their heads as the Holy Spirit enables them.

Isaiah urges Israel to radical trust and faithfulness to the Lord. The Psalmist thanks God for deliverance and calls upon Israel to trust in the Lord’s continuing salvation. Paul is sent to take God’s name to the Gentiles and kings and the people of Israel (Acts 9:15). Peter becomes the shepherd of the Church after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension (John 21:17; Acts 2:41).

While in Israel last week, I asked our tour guide why Israeli men wear skull caps or yarmulkes and why Israeli women wear head coverings. He said that Israeli men wear yarmulkes and women head covers as a reminder to themselves and as a sign to the world that God is above their heads. I do not know whether Isaiah, the Psalmist, Paul, or Peter wore a yarmulke as a sign that God was above their head. But we can observe from the witness of scripture that they lived out their mission in obedience under the sovereignty of God over their lives.

As Christians, we do not wear head coverings to express the sovereignty of God over our lives to the world. Nevertheless, we now belong to Christ Jesus who brought us close to God through the cross. Through our faith in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection and our baptism, we now live under the sovereign Lordship of Christ. ‘In Christ,’ as Paul said to the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers at the Aeropagus in Athens, ‘we live and move and have our being’ (Acts 17:28).

We remind ourselves and bear in the world that Christ is sovereign over our lives and above our heads by daily scripture reading, study, and prayer, and by regular worship. We live out our submission to the Lordship of Christ over our lives by fostering a deep sense of connection and relationship with people, seeking ways to love and serve people in ways that bless their lives, break bread together, and share our faith to give people a glimpse of God’s goodness and unfolding love in Christ.

Activity for the week

Wear something all day this week that reminds you that Christ the Lord is “above your head” and that your life belongs to him.

Praying Psalm 138

I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness; for you have exalted your name and your word above everything. On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul. All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O LORD, for they have heard the words of your mouth. They shall sing of the ways of the LORD, for great is the glory of the LORD. For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly; but the haughty he perceives from far away. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies; you stretch out your hand, and your right hand delivers me. The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. Amen.

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