The Church Fathers ABCs
A Frail Rib with Mystical Lungs: Preaching Hildegard of Bingen
Hildegard's life was one interwoven with a worship and obedience that acknowledged God as the only one worthy of her trust. It was her worship, her mystical experience of God in prayer and praise, and her suffering obedience as the fruit of that worship that grounded her identity as one loved by God. Indeed worship and obedience realign our priorities, they supply us with joy, give us hope, shape our ethics, and encourage us with power to confront our own troubles as well as the abuses and injustices of our own world. King David, as he came up against his own troubles and enemies, fought them first by singing to God. "Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge—You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing." "My heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay." These words from Psalm 16 get applied to Christ, but in Christ they apply to all who believe in him. "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."
By our worship and obedience, we acknowledge that there exists in the universe power that we do not manage, cannot control, and do not sustain. Power to which we can only submit. Worship and obedience signal your submission to God, a submission that compels us to live as salt and light in the world, devoted to mission and to the work of justice and righteousness, to ethics of honesty and simplicity, to helping the least and the lost; to exposing the works of darkness and loosing the bonds of sin and Satan, and to suffering for the gospel. Such was Hildegard's life. Such is the life of every Christian—a life that grows out of the worship of God.
"You, all-accomplishing Word of the Father, are the light of primordial daybreak over the spheres. You, the foreknowing mind of divinity, foresaw all your works as you willed them, your prescience hidden in the heart of your power, your power like a wheel around the world, whose circling never began and never slides to an end."
Daniel M. Harrell is Senior Minister of The Colonial Church, Edina, MN and author of How To Be Perfect: One Church's Audacious Experiment in Living the Old Testament Book of Leviticus (FaithWords, 2011). Follow him via Twitter, Facebook, or at his blog and website.