Psalms of Advent, Dec. 9, 2022
You are invited to light a candle and join me in reflecting again on Psalm 146: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%20146&version=NRSVUE. Yesterday, we sat with the word “sustains.” Today, we look at the word “praise” which begins and ends this psalm as well as psalms 147-150, the final psalms in this ancient collection of poetry. To whom is the praise directed? To the LORD, a title that becomes a drumbeat, repeated eleven times in this ten-verse psalm. The psalmist makes clear that the LORD is the one to be praised because it is the LORD, not mere mortals, not princes and kings, who has set prisoners free, lifted up those bowed down, loved the righteous, created heaven and earth, kept faith, sustained the orphan and widow, executed justice, and given food to the hungry.
This psalm is a call to praise and a call to trust. As one interpreter writes, “In biblical terms, to praise God is to live, and to live is to praise God. Praise is thus both liturgy and lifestyle; the two are inseparable.” * Think of our various practices of worship and the many different names used to praise the Holy One. How often do we take that praise out of the sanctuary/temple/mosque/nature and into our daily, everyday lives where there are bills to pay, doctors to visit, work to be done, relationships to mend, bosses to be pleased, children to be fed, and on and on and on? How might our lives and the lives of those around us be different, be better, brighter, more hopeful if we also made praise a lifestyle?
On these dreary winter days with the never-ending bad news a constant shroud, praise often seems the farthest action from our minds. No doubt the Israelites faced many of the same troubles we do, including exile. Yet they still sang praise and were encouraged to live praise. There will also be something to complain, fret or worry about, and there will always be something to praise. If our hope is to be Light-bearers and to shine that light into the darkness, then perhaps the practice of praise is the place to start. We are breathing. We are reading and writing and thinking and praying and hoping. I am thankful for all of that this Advent, and I praise God for you. Blessings ~ Rosemary
*The New Interpreters’ Bible, Vol. IV, pg. 1265.
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