Week of June 5, 2013

Todd JonesMy Dear Friends,

The Psalmist, in Psalm 34:8, proclaims, “O taste and see that the Lord is good…” I have always found this a very suggestive, very powerful and creative use of words. For when you taste something, you become personally involved with it. When you taste something, you experience it closely, even intimately, and in a way that leaves an impression, or makes itself known. You can see something from a distance and keep it at a safe distance if you choose. Art museums usually must say, “Look but don’t touch.” You can hear a loud sound and soon learn to tune it out, letting your mind wander onto something else. I no longer hear the trains that run at night near our home or the grandfather clock that chimes repeatedly through the night. You can touch something carefully, cautiously, and still keep it at arms’ length. You can even sniff around the edges of things, or hold your breath for a time and not smell anything at all. But it is not that way with your sense of taste. Taste requires of you a risk of sorts. Taste demands involvement. To taste something you have to open yourself up to it, and allow it to enter your mouth. To taste something is really to take it in, to make it a part of your bodily existence, to experience it in a personal way.

This is what the Psalmist was suggesting when inviting us, “O taste and see that the Lord is good…” It is not enough to look on God from a safe distance. (Remember Zacchaeus, seeking refuge behind the broad leaves of a sycamore tree, in order to see Jesus?) It is not even enough simply to hear about the Lord from someone else or to keep God at arms’ length in touching Him. It is never enough simply to catch the sweet fragrance of the Lord, though all of these sensory experiences may enrich and bless us. We need to “taste and see” the goodness of God. We need to open ourselves to taste the Lord, to savor God, to relish the presence of God, to chew on the Living Word. We need to experience God within, not apart from our lives. This is what it means to taste the Lord!

The prophet Jeremiah once took the Word of the Lord and literally tasted it. “Thy words were found, and I ate them, and Thy words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart…” (Jeremiah 15:16). Jeremiah tasted the Living God, by ingesting the Word of God. When King Josiah heard the Book of the Law read to him by the priest when the scrolls were found once again in the Temple after years of neglect, he wept and rent his clothes upon hearing this Word. Both these men of Israel allowed God to enter their lives and to change their hearts. This is why the Psalmist pleads with us to taste the Lord!

Now let me ask you: Have you ever tasted the Lord’s goodness? Have you ever opened yourself up to the Living God and allowed God to become a real part of your life? Is God for you a living, personal experience? Have you received the Lord into your inner life?

It can be easy to hear about God or to look upon God from a distance. But you can only ride on the coattails of other people’s faith for so long. You can only live on memories of a personal experience with God for so long, and then you begin to need a more contemporary experience of the Lord. We all need an experience of God in the present tense! At some point, we need to seize the moment, to open our selves up to God, to take the risk of letting God into our lives. This is what the Psalmist knows and what he pleads with us to do.

We must taste the goodness of the Lord for ourselves. No one can ever adequately describe for you what something else tastes like, no matter how good with words they may be. You must finally taste it for yourself to know the true flavor of something. So it is with God. You must try God, even taste God, truly to know how good God is!

When King Josiah restored the true worship of God to Judah, a reform written of in II Kings 22 and 23, one of his most important acts was the restoration of the Passover Meal, so they could “taste and see that the Lord is good.” We do this in the same way every time we participate in the Lord’s Supper as we eat the bread and drink of the cup. We taste the goodness and grace of the Lord in the Eucharist. The Psalmist reminds us that God wants us to try Him. God longs for us to know, to love, to enjoy, to savor, to taste, to delight in the Divine goodness. God wishes to be “God with us” and not far from us or outside of our lives. “O taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the one who trusts in Him!”

With Love and Prayers,

Todd Jones

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