Praise God! Praise God from
praise God in the heights!
Praise God, all you angels of
praise God, all you host of heaven!
Praise God, you sun and moon;
praise God, all you shining stars!
Praise God, you highest
and you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of
for God commanded and they were created.
God established them forever
God fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.
Praise God from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling
Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
Beasts of the forest and all cattle,
crawling things and flying birds!
Rulers of the earth and all
nobles and all leaders of the earth!
Young men and women alike,
old and young together!
Let them praise the name of
whose name alone is exalted;
whose glory is above earth and heaven.
God has raised up a horn for the people,
and praise for all the faithful,
for the people of Israel who are close to God.
Praise be to God!
morning when we are full of so many good things –
It’s nice to take a moment to take
stock – and not stock in the way most of us did yesterday
morning, after the hurricane of presents were opened – a look
that can be sometimes exhausting to experience –
But to count the blessings, I
guess. Take stock of the abundant ways all life, newborn life,
gives praise to God.
The text for the day is a psalm of
praise - not a psalm of thanksgiving. May not seem like a
There are several categories of
And Psalm 148 is a typical psalm
of praise in its structure. The last five chapters of the
collection of Psalms (146-150) are unique in that all five
begin and end in the same way. They all begin and end with the
cultic shout "Hallelujah" that calls upon the community to
"praise Yahweh," "praise the Lord."
Hallelujah – where in your lives
do you call out this moment of praise?
when we feel something, and it moves us into a deeper
relationship with the Divine. “Praise” Music makes one 'feel'
something, music for that matter makes you feel something and
can push you into a deeper relationship with God. It can move
you to thought, action and reflection based on the text or
theme." PRAISE IS AWE. Honor. Props. (That’s a little urban
slang, to carry on from Dan’s last week when he taught you the
new meaning of the word “sick”.)
This concept of praise is at the
heart of these psalms and is therefore worth exploring this
Sunday after Christmas. Just as praise music makes one feel
something, so does the act of praise that is invited by Psalm
Thanksgiving also comes when we
feel something but it is not quite the same as praise. When we
experience kindness we feel grateful. Thanksgiving is
gratitude, gladness. And admittedly I feel grateful when I
experience the wonder of the world but it is deeper than just
gratitude. To me it’s so close to emptiness or perfection
because I have no comment, no judgment, nothing other than wow.
Let it be. Yes.
And this psalm invites the whole
of creation to join in praising God as the ancients did. The
heavens, the angels, the sun and moon, the waters above the
heavens, sea monsters, mountains, hills and trees are invited to
praise God. THE WHOLE world CAN EXPERIENCE AWE AND BE A PART OF
not a large leap into the gospel birth narratives where at the
birth of the Christ, all heaven and earth give praise. In
Matthew the star is the first to give praise and prompts the
Magi to respond. In Luke the angels declare to the shepherds the
good news of Jesus' birth to all creation. 'Glory to God and
Peace on earth….'" Christmas is a time for praise--exuberant
heartfelt praise that moves us closer to knowing God. How are
you lifting your voice in praise to celebrate these blessed
events and their on-going impact on your life? How does this
story still impact your life?
This morning I want to tell the
Christmas story one more time. One more time to share together
in a moment of thanksgiving and praise for the journey of Mary
and Joseph. The symbolic connection they have to all our
lives. The blessing and complete joy of Jesus’ birth. I’ve
always found the ?? word to hold, protect the meaning of
Christmas for me. Safeguard the awe. Compare and contrast for
the praise we feel and the praise
they might have felt. The modern conveniences of childbirth
compared to Mary’s options. The preparations we made this week –
what it took to get us ready - and the preparations Mary and
I appreciate how timeless the
nativity story is. But this Christmas I was taken in by a
retelling. I experienced a praise moment after hearing it. You
may know that each year NPR commissions a new story, a holiday,
winter story, and sometimes, yes, it’s a Christmas story. There
are some delightful ones, some adaptations of classics,
including this one I’m about to read. Back in 2005, when
Christmas time rolled around, we were only 4 months after
Hurricane Katrina. And Scott Simon, host of NPR’s weekend
edition, was moved to tell the Christmas story with a more
present context. This story has been around for 5 years now but
I think you’ll find this Modern Day Mary & Joseph fit just fine
Joseph and Mary hitchhiked to a shelter next to a Wal-Mart
in Pass Christian, Mississippi. They'd lost their home in a
hurricane and the trailer that FEMA had promised wasn't
ready. Joseph was a carpenter and there was lots of work in
the area, but he and Mary had no place to live and Mary
told Joseph that he would be the child's father, but he
wasn't the child's father. The spark that began the life of
their child, she said, came from--well, it was too
embarrassing for Joseph to repeat. It sounded impossible
and ridiculous. Friends told him he was being taken for
a fool, but Joseph loved Mary.
knew that the last few months had been hard for her.
Joseph decided that whatever fantastic stories Mary told
him, he would love the child as his own.
Joseph and Mary got to Pass Christian, they were told there
was no room at the shelter. But a kindly man said they
could unroll their blankets on the floor of his garage next
door. The garage was cold, he said, but it had a
wireless Internet connection.
night Mary had a baby boy. He seemed healthy, wrinkly and
had a nice loud cry. Mary laid their baby down on the back
of a hybrid car that was under repair, swaddled in the one
denim jacket Joseph was able to take when they fled their
house. Mary lay down on the front seat; Joseph rolled down
stray gray dog, still grimy from the road and whimpering
with loneliness, kept watch over the baby and helped keep
him warm with her panting. Joseph also plugged his iPod into
a set of speakers so their baby could be lulled to sleep
That night a star appeared in the east--actually
quite a few stars, but Bill Gates noticed one in particular
and sent Five Wise People, (the group recently expanded from
Three Wise Men) to Pass Christian to see Joseph and Mary's
Bono, William Safire, Monica Ali, Aung San Suu Kyi
and Henry Lewis Gates--no
relation--all wanted to bring the child gifts of gold,
frankincense and myrrh. But they hadn't been available since
the hurricane. So the wise people brought chipotle lime taco
chips, chocolate chip cheesecake and asparagus for fiber.
infant saw them and smiled.
saw the look of delight in her child's face and said to
herself, `He's happy to be in this world. He's happy to be
with us.' But she saw Joseph sitting off by himself at the
far end of the garage.
knew he was worried about how he was going to make a life
for their child. When Joseph came back to the car, his eyes
glimmered. `I think I finally understand,' he said, `why
we're here, why we've been given the gift of this child. It
doesn't matter who the father is, does it?
Every child born cries for our love and deserves our care.
Every child who's hungry in Sudan or Louisiana or Indonesia,
little girl who's abandoned by a roadside in China,
little boy in Uganda who's dragged into somebody's army
while he's still not as tall as the gun they put in his
teen-ager who never seems to take off their earbuds,
little boy and girl anywhere who's threatened by a bomb, an
epidemic, a bullet or a storm. I must love them as a father
loves his child.'
and Joseph sat with their arms around each other and around
their baby boy. The dog--they decided to adopt her on the
spot--hopped up in the seat beside them and put her head
gently onto Joseph's lap. The star that had found them
seemed to stay above them for a moment, while their child
breathed softly, safely, peacefully in their arms, looking
out at a world that seemed suddenly new.
SCOTT SIMON, host WEEKEND
EDITION from NPR News.
Copyright © 2005 National
Simple changes. A new context.
And yet from this perspective the story feels new to me and I
again sit in the universal reach of this tiny new family. A
story that can be told over and over again, in every context.
It’s not about how this story
manifested in year one but how it continues to be retold in the
lives of every living thing. The story keeps happening. God is
in and through every living being – every frog and flower every
mother and father, every family, the sun the moon, you and I,
him and her – all are connected with all creation and all have
the capacity to offer praise to God. And all are in need of God
and the creative wonder of God at work around US – all in need
of the Embrace of God .
If we could use our open eyes and ears, as they are now, when we
look into the world – it’s true there is much work and much
prayer left to do – but look closely and you’ll see the whole
world is full of praise, its beauty is strong and we are all
children of God.
child cries for our love. Every parent will do anything and
everything to help the ones they love. And they are deserving
of our understanding our support, the world’s wisdom. It
doesn’t matter who the mother is, because Mary is every mother –
even when a child has two mothers. Joseph is every father -
even the fathers in jail. Even the mothers on the street.
Every mixed family, messed up family. The straight A students
and the straight C students.
As we move from Advent into
Epiphany over the next 12 days – we move from waiting to
We can ask ourselves again how
will you lift your voice in praise to celebrate the
manifestation of hope in the lives of those around you? How
will you celebrate the blessings all around you?