Sermon 5th Sunday of Pentecost, NL3, 9 July 2017
The First Reading for 5th Sunday of Pentecost is from Psalm 150.
NRS Psalm 150:1 Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty firmament!
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his surpassing greatness!
3 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with clanging cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that breathes praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!
The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
P: How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.
C: Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Accept my offerings of praise, O LORD, and teach me your Word.
The Gospel Reading for the 5th Sunday of Pentecost is from the Gospel of John the 4th chapter. Glory to you O Lord.
NRS John 4:24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."
25 The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us."
26 Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you."
The Gospel of our Lord. Praise to you O Christ.
Pray: Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
You've sung this song before I assume?
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise him all creatures here below.
Praise him above ye heavenly hosts.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost!
The song is called the doxology which, roughly translated, means "Word of Praise." In it we hear the call for all people, those here on earth below and those who have gone before and even all inhabitants of heaven above, to praise God. Why? because all blessing flow from him who is known as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
In the doxology we detect the song of praise rooted in Psalm 150 that we read earlier. Praise God! Praise the LORD! they both cry out.
Psalm 150 is a doxology. It is the high note of praise that ends the book of Psalms. It is the finale, the crescendo of the whole book. "Praise the LORD" it declares at the top of its lungs. If we did a word study we would find that "Praise the LORD" or phrases similar to that appear 7 times in the first book of the Psalms, twice in the second book, only once in the third book, 9 times in the fourth book and 32 times in the last book, three times in Psalm 150 alone. The last five Psalms all begin and end with "Praise the LORD.". The word "praise" appears thirteen times in the six verses of Psalm 150 alone. The message of the Psalms is that all of life leads to this doxology of praise to the LORD.
The Psalm tells us to Praise the LORD before we even know why should give praise. It tells us where to praise the LORD - in the sanctuary here on earth and in the mighty heavens above. His praise is to be everywhere. There is no place that should be without praises to the LORD.
The Psalm calls us to praise the LORD for what he does - for his mighty deeds and for who he is - the one who is surpassingly great. All of the previous psalms have filled in the details of who God is and what he does. Psalm 150 doesn't feel the need to repeat any of it, we should know by now.
The Psalm tells us how the LORD should be praised - with the ram's horn trumpet of the priests, with the lute and harp of the Levites, with the human movement in tambourine and dance, with all other instruments of music and percussion - the strings, the pipes, the cymbals and not just cymbals but loud crashing ones! No one is left out, no method of making music is beyond giving praise. If you have the breath of life, given to you by God the creator whose breath is life, then you Praise the LORD! What is needed and what is most important is that everyone, in every place and with everything Praise the LORD.
Psalm 150 begins with "Praise the LORD" and it ends with "Praise the LORD". All of life is encapsulated in praise to the LORD and creator of all. Which may sound strange, but the Psalms are a book of life. The psalms give you words to speak for every happening in life. There are psalms of wonder and joy, of sorrow and lament, of trust and faith, of song and prayer, and of God's word in creation, life, death and law.
As we review the Psalms that we have focused on in the last four weeks we remember a Psalm of praise, of making a joyful noise to the LORD all the earth, of singing, thanksgiving, and gladness for the LORD's steadfast love and faithfulness.
We also remember a Psalm of lament that gives us words to cry out in near despair "How long O LORD?" and words that plea for the LORD to consider and hear our complaint. In the midst of anguish, with no one else to turn to, the Psalmist turns in trust to the LORD, even with singing and rejoicing.
We remember Psalms acknowledging the LORD's presence beside green pastures and still waters as well as on paths of deep darkness that feel like the shadow of death. It was the LORD who provided overflowing cups of goodness and mercy all of the days of life. After a night of weeping the LORD brought joy in the morning. Grief was turned into dancing, coverings of sackcloth became clothes of joy. Praise and thanksgiving were given for all that the LORD has done.
The experience of the Psalms is that through the ups and downs of life the LORD is present. He hears and shares life with us. Fundamentally, the Psalms find it astounding that the LORD, God of all creation, is with us and permits us to speak in all honesty about every facet of life. We can talk to him about our kids when they... About our parents when they... About brothers and sisters when they ... About work and school when it... About untamed nature that at times seems to go crazy. We can talk about what's fair and unfair, about things the way they should be and about when they aren't. We can talk about what makes us cry, whether in joy or in sadness. We can talk of gain or loss, of new life and of the passing away of life. There is nothing beyond the realm of conversation with our LORD.
The Psalms are about praying, speaking and listening to the LORD. A life of honest and truthful prayer and conversation with God takes us ultimately to words and tunes and songs of praise. Praise is the ultimate expression of faith. In faith, we praise God when things are going well and when they aren't. We praise the LORD for what he has done, for what he is doing and continues to do and for all that he will do even though we cannot see or imagine what that may be. In faith and in all things, seen and unseen, known and unknown, the Psalms call us to praise the LORD.
Praise of the LORD is the essence of worship. In our Gospel reading Jesus told the woman at the well that the future is not about worship on one mountain or another but about worship in spirit and in truth. I think he was talking of the worship in the spirit of praise and in the truth of praising the LORD. The Spirit of worship is praise. The truth of worship is that all praise is to the LORD. The LORD does the work of worship in calling us together, of hearing our confession and forgiving, of speaking his Word, serving us his meal and sending us out. Our response is praise for all that he has done. We are to praise in singing, in praying, in greeting, in giving, and in going. It is all "Praise the LORD".
I think my favorite song of praise is one I learned in Sunday School as a youngster. It's called Hallelu, which is the Hebrew word for praise. Hallelu becomes Hallelujah which is the Hebrew for Praise the LORD. So we sing in both ancient Hebrew and modern English "Praise the LORD". It is a song that is sung with joy and it can't be sung sitting still. It requires us to move with joy. It is a responsive song where one side calls the other to praise the LORD. So when it is your turn to sing you have to sing and move. Movement can be standing up and sitting down or waving your hands up and down or whatever you can think of. The left side sings Hallelu and Hallelujah to the right side and the right side sings Praise ye the LORD to the left. In the end we all join together to sing Praise ye the LORD! Ready?
Hallelujah! Praise ye the LORD!
Hallelujah! Praise ye the LORD!
Praise ye the LORD!
Praise ye the LORD!
Praise ye the LORD!
(all) Praise ye the LORD!