Readings: Psalm 8; Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12

Psalm 8 is a hymn of praise to God that helps us put things in perspective. Although God’s name is “majestic” in all the earth, God is not the same as what God has created: God’s glory is “above the heavens.” At the same time, neither does the psalmist denigrate the created order. Creation turns the psalmist’s thoughts to God and to humanity’s relation to God.

In this light, humanity appears small and insignificant: “what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” Yet humanity is not so insignificant after all: “you made them a little lower than God.” Again in line with Genesis, the psalmist describes humanity’s task: “You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet.”

Lest we begin to swing the pendulum the other way and think too much of ourselves, we might turn to the New Testament reading, where the writer of Hebrews picks up Psalm 8 to describe Jesus’ mission and ministry. Hebrews 1:1-4 exalts the risen Christ in every way possible: he is superior not only to prophets but also to angels. The world was created through him, and “he is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being.” Then the writer uses Psalm 8:4-6 to name at least one way in which humanity also has an edge over the angels: in relation to the world, “God left nothing outside [humanity’s] control.” We might be tempted to follow this logic: while we are not God, we follow Jesus, who created and sustains all things, and Scripture says God has put all things under our control. Clearly, the world is ours to do with as we wish. Right?

Wrong. Wrong, precisely because we do follow Jesus, and Hebrews 2:9-10 makes clear that Jesus’s lordship was/is not displayed in domineering tyranny but in self-sacrifice and suffering. While our readings describe both Jesus and humanity as having been crowned with glory and honor, Jesus was so crowned “because of the suffering of death.” Jesus gave up his status and joined humanity for a little while as being “lower than angels.”

These texts call us to a proper perspective on our relation to God and to the world. As Genesis 1-2 and Psalm 8 affirm, we have been given a tremendous responsibility, stewardship of all creation. Lest we sinfully distort the boundaries of that stewardship, however, we need to follow the example of Jesus, who, though God, took on the form of a servant (Philippians 2). These texts speak to us deeply as we consider our relationship to God, to each other, and to all creation. Do we have ears to hear?

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