An Oldy, but a Goodie!

Photo credit here. 

S (Scripture): Psalm 95
1 Come, let’s sing out loud to the Lord!
Let’s raise a joyful shout to the rock of our salvation!
2 Let’s come before him with thanks!
Let’s shout songs of joy to him!
3 The Lord is a great God,
the great king over all other gods.
4 The earth’s depths are in his hands;
the mountain heights belong to him;
5 the sea, which he made, is his
along with the dry ground,
which his own hands formed.

O (Observation):  Very much centered on God as Creator, this psalm gives thanks and praise to God.   Coming from a background that seems fairly stable, this psalm was likely written in a time of peace for God’s people.   

Times were not always so for God’s people, but when they got the chance to simply praise God, they did.  

A (Application):  Getting away and giving thanks and praise to God are part of the Christian life.  Retreating and centering one’s life – whether that retreat be a weekend worship service, or a pilgrimage like the ELCA Youth Gathering (coming up in Houston in June 2018) or the ELCA Rostered Ministers Gathering (happening now in Atlanta) – is essential for our physical, emotional, social, and spiritual health. We need some time away to quiet our minds and separate ourselves from the demands on our time.   

Giving thanks to God is a natural thing for a Christian, even (or especially) in times of doubt or uncertainty.   Acknowledging that God watches over us and never lets us drown is of key importance to us.  

As I read this psalm, I couldn’t help but think of the times I’ve sung this psalm in retreat (read: worship).   Lots of YouTube videos of many different arrangements of this psalm exist.  

Let this be a reminder that our Lutheran liturgy is not some standalone material fabricated by folks in fancy robes.  Rather, the words are mined from the Mountain of scripture before us.  Some digging had to be done, to discover the gems that lay inside the Scruptires already.   No need to re-create.   Re-fashion into song? Yes.  But re-create?  No.  

Peace!

P (Prayer):  Lord, you are amazing and all of your creation is good.  Help us to preserve this earth and respect all you have created.   Amen.  

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S (Scripture): Job 39

19 “Do you give the horse its might?
Do you clothe its neck with mane?
20 Do you make it leap like the locust?
Its majestic snorting is terrible.
21 It paws[d] violently, exults mightily;
it goes out to meet the weapons.
22 It laughs at fear, and is not dismayed;
it does not turn back from the sword.
23 Upon it rattle the quiver,
the flashing spear, and the javelin.
24 With fierceness and rage it swallows the ground;
it cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet.
25 When the trumpet sounds, it says ‘Aha!’
From a distance it smells the battle,
the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.

O (Observation):  The Lord is finally giving voice to this situation of Job’s. The Lord starts in chapter 38 and continues through this chapter, chapter 39.  The Lord is asking Job if he knows how all of creation began, and how creation goes on the way it does. His questions are in a cynical tone, knowing that Job cannot answer the questions that the Lord is asking.

The image of the horse going into battle is quite a vivid image.   But Job cannot possibly know where the horse gets its might or mane, or how it can laugh at fear.  Job does not know how anything in nature works, nor does anyone, except the Lord.  

And so, the Lord calls on Job to show reverence to the Lord, for Job’s supposed wisdom is nothing compared to the Lord.   

A (Application):  Science has allowed us to sort of reverse engineer most of creation.  We can see how two things came together to make a new thing, but we cannot re-create it.  We can look back and pick things apart, but we lack The Lord’s wisdom to predict the future.  

Even in science, mystery remains.  

In faith, we have doctrines and theologies, but none completely captures who God is.   Our wisdom only extends so far with the written or spoke Word.   

So, why is it that we think we are wise enough to understand why bad things happen?    Things like breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, and type 1 diabetes, to name a few.   No one deserves these things.   They just receive them.    

God doesn’t wish for us to suffer, nor are we meant to control creation.  Yet we can be present for one another without accusing each other of being all righteous or all sinful.   We can be present with one another in the midst of responses to natural disasters.  

We can see life as that which brings ups and downs beyond our wisdom.    We can be present.   Without words.  Without motives, other than simply to be with someone in their time of need.  

Stand with.  Sit with.  Listen to.  These are our responses to folks in need.  

P (Prayer):  Lord, show us signs of your love in the midst of that which baffles us.  Amen.  

Take A Hike!


S (Scripture): Psalm 65:

5 You answer our prayers by performing awesome acts of deliverance, O God, our savior. All the ends of the earth trust in you, as well as those living across the wide seas.

6 You created the mountains by your power, and demonstrated your strength.

7 You calm the raging seas and their roaring waves, as well as the commotion made by the nations.

8 Even those living in the most remote areas are awestruck by your acts; you cause those living in the east and west to praise you.

O (Observation):  God’s people reflect on God’s goodness and awesome acts of deliverance, restoration, and creation.   

People from all over the world recognize God’s sovereignty.  

A (Application): Simple words today.  I will be taking a brief hike with my wife, today.   We will enjoy God’s beautiful creation as we hike the wooded path today.   We give thanks for God’s redemption in our lives, and beauty of creation.  

What do you enjoy most about God’s creation?

P (Prayer): Creator God, your acts of power and strength are mind-boggling.  Help me and Kelly to enjoy your beautiful creation this day. Amen.  

Bust out the Banjo!

  

S (Scripture): Psalm 33:1 You godly ones, shout for joy because of the Lord!  It is appropriate for the morally upright to offer him praise.

2 Give thanks to the Lord with the harp!  Sing to him to the accompaniment of a ten-stringed instrument!

3 Sing to him a new song!  Play skillfully as you shout out your praises to him!

O (Observation):  The psalmist encourages God’s people to worship!  Bust out the banjo and harp!  Let it rip!   Why?  Because “GOD!”

God has shown great mercy and great love.  Lay everything else down for the moment.  Celebrate the goodness and grace that is God. 

A (Application):  I haven’t pulled out the 6- or 12-string in a while.  My wife and I love making music together.   I love playing the guitar.   The pure awesome joy of moving from silence to filling the air around me with sounds of beauty is truly amazing.  I feel like I am co-creating with God in those moments. 

And then add the beautiful sound of my wife’s voice…oh boy….that’s worship!

Maybe I’ll record something tonight, and let you enjoy a little bit of music…a little bit of praise.  

What are you able to do to give thanks to God? Art?  Science? Spoken word? Silent reflection? Not everyone shows outward signs of praise…but I sure like to : )

P (Prayer):  Lord, you are precious and worthy of praise.  Thank you for the gift of making music.  Amen.