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Friday, May 8, 2015
Today’s Reading | Psalm 135:1–4, 10–19
Praise the Lord!
Praise the name of the Lord;
give praise, O servants of the Lord,
you that stand in the house of the Lord,
in the courts of the house of our God.
Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good;
sing to his name, for he is gracious.
For the Lord has chosen Jacob for himself,
Israel as his own possession.
He struck down many nations
and killed mighty kings—
Sihon, king of the Amorites,
and Og, king of Bashan,
and all the kingdoms of Canaan—
and gave their land as a heritage,
a heritage to his people Israel.
Your name, O Lord, endures forever,
your renown, O Lord, throughout all ages.
For the Lord will vindicate his people,
and have compassion on his servants.
The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but they do not speak;
they have eyes, but they do not see;
they have ears, but they do not hear,
and there is no breath in their mouths.
Those who make them
and all who trust them
shall become like them.
O house of Israel, bless the Lord!
O house of Aaron, bless the Lord! (NRSV)
I was once having dinner with a group of people when someone asked, “Why do you go to church?” A corporate lawyer was the first to answer, “Because it gives me time to reflect and to rejuvenate, and it connects me to something much larger than myself.” This connection occurs for me in one of my favorite moments during morning worship at Fourth Church, the Doxology at the very beginning of the service. This 500-year-old tune and text, a paraphrase of Psalm 100, unites us together into one voice, one breath, and one thought. We stand and sing “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” as we address the God who made us and all of creation. Throughout the service, we address God directly in word, song, and prayer. God is and rightfully should be the focus of our praise and adoration, our thoughts and attention, for “it is he that made us and not we ourselves.”
During a worship service I began thinking about how we address God, and I was astounded at how many times it occurs. It is easy not to notice this at all. Because it happens every Sunday, it can simply be taken for granted. As Danish theologian Søren Kierkegaard said, the worship leaders are only the prompters in the drama; the congregation are the actors, and it is God who is the audience. Three thousand years ago, the author of Psalm 135 had similar thoughts when writing, “Praise the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord; give praise, O servants of the Lord.”
O God, help me to seek you at all times and in all places, so that I may be made whole and free. Amen.
Written by John W. W. Sherer, Organist and Director of Music
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