Preaching Connection: Praise

Additional content related to Praise

Psalm 95:1-7a

This is another one of those lections that stops just short of the place in the psalm where there is a decisive—yet probably important—shift of tone and theme.  Yes, the first seven verses of Psalm 95 are a lovely doxological celebration and a call to worship this Creator and Redeemer God for all God is…

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Psalm 43

Most scholars seem pretty certain that Psalms 42 and 43 were either originally just one psalm or that they are such tight companion psalms that you are not really supposed to read either of them in isolation from the other.   But here we are being asked to look at only Psalm 43.  A glance back…

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Psalm 96:1-9 (10-13)

My pastor during much of my growing-up years back in Ada Christian Reformed Church in the 1970s often used the middle portion of Psalm 96 as his Call to Worship.  I can still recall hearing Sunday after Sunday “Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.  Ascribe…

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Psalm 103: (1-7), 8-13

In past sermon commentaries here on the CEP website I have relayed the anecdote involving the author John Donne.  A friend of mine who taught English once lent an acquaintance a book of collected writings by John Donne.  When the person returned the book, my friend asked him what he thought of Donne’s work.  “He’s…

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Psalm 26:1-8

Most Bible scholars have serious doubts about the authorship attributions in the psalms.  Certainly we know the superscriptions were added much later and are not considered canonical (like ones that claims a certain psalm stemmed from a time when David was fleeing Saul and such).  And even all the psalms that are said to be…

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Psalm 138

Years ago I read a wonderful novel by Indian writer Arundhati Roy and one of the things I liked about the book was its great title: The God of Small Things.  That title can be an apt summary for something you run across often in the psalms, including in Psalm 138. Israel praised their God…

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Psalm 67

When we think of getting a blessing, we tend to focus on ourselves as the recipient of something good—something that will be good for us, something that will benefit us.  The classic Aaronic Benediction from Numbers 6—that is clearly echoed in Psalm 67:1—is a good example.  When I give this benediction in church, I am…

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Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21

The RCL had us in the heart of Psalm 145 a scant month ago for its July 9, 2023, psalm lection.  Why we are looping back to some of these same verses so soon is not clear.  In any event, I refer you to that sermon commentary and will not here repeat everything I said…

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Psalm 65:(1-8), 9-13

As I write this in July 2023, it feels at times like the world is on fire.  Canada certainly has been on fire for a good bit in 2023.  Canadian wildfires burning thousands of miles away have been blanketing with smoke cities as far away as Washington D.C. and also in the Midwest, giving us…

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Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18

Across its 52 verses, Psalm 89 covers a lot of ground.  You would not sense that from the mere 8 verses the Lectionary has carved out for this lection but if you range beyond those verses, you will see a lot going on.  There is praise and thanksgiving.  There is a nod to the more…

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Psalm 100

It will never happen of course but sometimes one could wish that for certain absolutely key vocabulary words in Hebrew or Greek, all Bible translations in English (or in any language) could agree on one translation of that word that would get used consistently every time it occurs.  That way readers of the translation would…

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Genesis 1:1-2:4a

Science has long been fascinated with both the cosmic beginning and its ending.  Both involve a certain amount of speculation, though at least with the universe’s beginning there is real evidence to look at.  But since the end has not yet come, there is no data to examine, and so theory and speculation are all…

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Psalm 8

There is a sense in which Psalm 8 comes down to just one question asked of God by the psalmist: How in the world are you even able to see us at all?  Dwarfed by and mystified by the expanse of a starry sky on a cloudless night and long before there was such a…

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Matthew 21:1-11

Comments, Questions, and Observations Somehow, even in the midst of the shouts of praise, the displays of adoration and respect as the crowd prepares the way for Jesus to enter Jerusalem, somehow, even with all this, this text seems understated for what it represents. Or, maybe that’s exactly what it is supposed to feel like…

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Psalm 112:1-9 (10)

About all I can say after reading Psalm 112 is that it’s one thing to wear rose-colored glasses but quite another to fuse those glasses to your head so you can never take them off!  Psalm 112 is by no means the only poem in the Hebrew Psalter to paint a glowing portrait of what…

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Psalm 40:1-11

Did David (or whoever wrote this psalm) write it backwards?  You can divide Psalm 40 rather neatly into two halves (though most of the second half is left out by the Lectionary).  The first ten or so verses are full of confidence and gratitude for God’s deliverance.  As usual in the psalms, we cannot detect…

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Psalm 29

Psalm 29 is an ode to a thunderstorm. But this poem is not just that.  The primary aim here is to move through the storm to the Lord of the storm, to the King of Creation, to the one, only true, sovereign God: Yahweh. As such, Psalm 29, for all its lyrical and poetic beauty,…

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Psalm 148

Some years back at a worship service we used St. Francis of Assisi’s poem “Canticle of the Sun” as part of a responsive reading.  There was, alas, a slight typo in the bulletin that made it sound at one point as though we were worshiping Mother Earth.  This led a rather conservative member of my…

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Psalm 96

Perhaps it counts as something of an irony that the Lectionary calls on us to reflect on Psalm 96 on Christmas Day.  After all, if ever there were a day in the church year when we do not want to do what Psalm 96:1 says—namely, sing to the Lord a new song—this day is it! …

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Psalm 98

Reading Psalm 98 is like uncorking a well shook-up bottle of champagne.  The cork rockets upward and the bubbly inside the bottle fountains forth in exuberance.  We’ve all seen those locker rooms after a team wins the World Series or the Super Bowl when players spray each other with such bottles—some years ago someone finally…

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Psalm 111

In a recent sermon commentary on another psalm, I observed that although the poetry of the Psalms and the wisdom literature of Proverbs or Ecclesiastes are distinct in terms of biblical literary genre, there is a lot of crossover between the Books of Psalms and Proverbs.  Psalm 111 is another example of this with its…

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Psalm 146

In contemporary music there are few crescendos quite as dramatic and raucous as the one that concludes the Beatles song “A Day in the Life.”  A somewhat wild cacophony of strings, brass, and percussion all come together to end this remarkable song with a bang followed by a very long sustain on a piano that…

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Psalm 113

In Robert Duvall’s film, The Apostle, we see a vignette of what could be described as a very “in your face” style of praise.  The revival worship services of a certain stripe of Deep South fundamentalism are high-decibel, foot-stomping, hand-clapping, gizzard-piercing spectacles that are most decidedly not for the faint of heart! And yet, in…

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Psalm 66:1-9

A bit cheeky.  A goodly dose of chutzpah.  A tad forward.  You have to admire the psalmists who on many occasions are not the least bit adverse to ordering the whole world to praise the God of Israel.  Make no mistake: all those “Praise the Lord” lines in so many of the psalms are in…

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Psalm 97

A few years ago the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship produced a new hymnal based on the Psalms.  Its title is “Psalms for All Seasons.”  The title is apt because as most of us know, the Hebrew Psalter is a collection of varied prayers that matches life’s many and varied seasons.  As C.S. Lewis and…

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Psalm 148

Some years back at a worship service we used St. Francis of Assisi’s poem “Canticle of the Sun” as part of a responsive reading.  There was, alas, a slight typo in the bulletin that made it sound at one point as though we were worshiping Mother Earth.  This led a rather conservative member of my…

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Revelation 5:11-14

This Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson’s John reminds me of young children who tell their parents or grandparents a story that so excites them that it tumbles out of them in a string of run-on sentences that begin with “And ….” You may know the form. “I was walking home from school and I saw this big…

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Psalm 150

Whether it’s a Broadway play like Les Miserables or a classic movie like The Sound of Music, most people enjoy a good musical. But have you ever wondered what it is about such productions that appeals to us? After all, musicals are decidedly unlike real life. In The Sound of Music people burst into song…

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Luke 19:28-40

Comments, Questions, and Observations “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” These words are shouted by a “multitude of disciples” as Jesus rides on a donkey into Jerusalem (v 37). The people are compelled to shout these praises because of all…

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Psalm 138

The Lectionary likes Psalm 138 and slates it sometimes in Ordinary Time and sometimes in Epiphany.  I have several sermon commentaries on the CEP site on Psalm 138 but for this week I will riff on the last time I wrote about this in the Sundays after Epiphany. I have noted often in my sermon…

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Psalm 71:1-6

There is a part of the well-known story (and the popular Sunday School story) of “Jacob’s Ladder” that most people don’t know about or just ignore.  The outlines of the story are familiar and are also accurate enough to the biblical text in Genesis: Jacob is on the lam, fleeing the fury of his brother…

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Psalm 19

Almost 120 years ago an unknown patent clerk named Albert Einstein published a series of papers detailing what he called “special relativity.” At one fell swoop, Einstein shattered centuries’ worth of scientific theories about the fundamental nature of reality. The theories of Isaac Newton and his mechanical understanding of the universe’s functioning were swept away,…

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Psalm 148

When I was a pastor, I liked every sixth year when Christmas Day fell on a Sunday.  First, it eliminated the need for an extra service and second, it eliminated conversations with leadership as to whether to hold any extra services in case . . .  well, in case Christmas Day fell on a Saturday. …

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Psalm 145:10-18

The Lectionary likes Psalm 145 but chops it up a little differently each time.  That’s a shame since the psalm is meant to be read as a single unit and presents a unified theme too.  Probably for this particular Sunday the RCL chose this part of Psalm 145 because of the verse about God’s giving…

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Psalm 30

Psalm 30 is almost singularly upbeat in its incessant exaltations of God.  But the discerning reader and preacher will notice that underneath all this praising there has been a history of pain.  References are made to having gone down to the depths, to sinking into the pit, to enemies eager to gloat over the psalmist’s…

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Psalm 47

Sample sermon: How We See Things [Since Ascension Day is May 13 and the Sunday after it can also be Ascension Sunday, I am posting a sample Ascension Day sermon based on the Lectionary’s Ascension Day psalm text of Psalm 47.] One of the most mind-boggling spectacles I’ve ever seen is a short science movie…

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Psalm 98

Reading Psalm 98 is like uncorking a well shook-up bottle of champagne.  The cork rockets upward and the bubbly inside the bottle fountains forth in exuberance.  We’ve all seen those locker rooms after a team wins the World Series or the Super Bowl when players spray each other with such bottles—some years ago someone finally…

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Psalm 96:1-9, (10-13)

“A scribe to the Lord . . .”  At least that is what I heard my minister say when I was a young boy attending a church in Ada, Michigan.  Rev. Angus MacLeod began more morning worship services than not with that portion of Psalm 96 that repeats the call to “ascribe” to the Lord…

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Psalm 95

Growing up in a tradition that had once upon a time been founded on Psalm singing only in church, I sang lots of psalms in my boyhood church even long, long after my Reformed tradition had added also hymns to our standard Psalter Hymnal songbook.  Even as a young boy, though, I was struck by…

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Psalm 40:1-11

Did David (or whoever wrote this psalm) write it backwards?  You can divide Psalm 40 rather neatly into two halves (though most of the second half is left out by the Lectionary).  The first ten or so verses are full of confidence and gratitude for God’s deliverance.  As usual in the psalms, we cannot detect…

Explore

Psalm 148

The time between Christmas and Epiphany is one of those flex times in the Revised Common Lectionary—sometimes there are two Sundays after Christmas and before January 6 and sometimes just one in case Epiphany falls exactly on the second Sunday after Christmas.  So sometimes Psalm 148 is in the Lectionary mix and sometimes it isn’t.  …

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Psalm 98

Reading Psalm 98 is like uncorking a well shook-up bottle of champagne.  The cork rockets upward and the bubbly inside the bottle fountains forth in exuberance.  We’ve all seen those locker rooms after a team wins the World Series or the Super Bowl when players spray each other with such bottles—some years ago someone finally…

Explore

Psalm 66:1-9

A bit cheeky.  A goodly dose of chutzpah.  A tad forward.  You have to admire the psalmists who on many occasions are not the least bit adverse to ordering the whole world to praise the God of Israel.  Make no mistake: all those “Praise the Lord” lines in so many of the psalms are in…

Explore

Psalm 97

A few years ago the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship produced a new hymnal based on the Psalms.  Its title is “Psalms for All Seasons.”  The title is apt because as most of us know, the Hebrew Psalter is a collection of varied prayers that matches life’s many and varied seasons.  As C.S. Lewis and…

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Revelation 5:11-14

It seems in some ways appropriate that Revelation 5 begins with a sob but ends with a hymn.  That, after all, doesn’t just encompass part of the range of emotions within which God’s adopted sons and daughters generally live.  It also follows the arc along which God wants to move God’s beloved people.  That’s why…

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Psalm 150

Whether it’s a Broadway play like Les Miserables or a classic movie like The Sound of Music, most people enjoy a good musical. But have you ever wondered what it is about such productions that appeals to us? After all, musicals are decidedly unlike real life. In The Sound of Music people burst into song…

Explore

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

Call it the little Psalm that could.  Call it the Psalm of stealth and surprise.  Call it the Psalm that fits the Gospel bill. Why?  Because out of all the 150 psalms in the Hebrew Psalter, many people have their favorites but those favorites—most anybody’s “Top 10 Greatest Hits of the Psalter” list—would likely not…

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Philippians 2:5-11

The retired American basketball star Charles Barkley once famously said in a television commercial, “I’m not a role model … Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”  In doing so, he displayed the kind of wisdom that other public figures sometimes lack. The Epistolary Lesson the RCL appoints for…

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Psalm 138

Our prayer life should be our autobiography, C.S. Lewis once observed.  But that is also why Lewis thought the Hebrew Psalter was such a fitting prayer book since it contains prayers that fit a wide variety of life’s experiences.  Were the 150 Psalms all in one particular emotional register, what help would it be for…

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Psalm 71:1-6

There is a part of the well-known story (and the popular Sunday School story) of “Jacob’s Ladder” that most people don’t know about or just ignore.  The outlines of the story are familiar and are also accurate enough to the biblical text in Genesis: Jacob is on the lam, fleeing the fury of his brother…

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1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26

You will be quickly forgiven if, upon first reading, you decide not to preach on this little snippet of Scripture.  How can you build a helpful Gospel centered sermon on this gerrymandered bit of fluff?  Why in the world would the RCL land here for this first Sunday after Christmas?  I mean, the first Sunday…

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Psalm 148

We have but one Sunday after Christmas this year as Epiphany proper is already next week on January 6.   So the Lectionary decided to let loose with all the post-Christmas praise it could muster by choosing Psalm 148.  Talk about relentless!  This Psalm is one long string of the imperative hallelu yah or “Praise Yahweh,”…

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Psalm 145:8-14

Psalm 145 is an exuberant, but hardly extemporaneous Psalm.  Indeed, it is a carefully crafted Psalm of praise.  The superscription explicitly identifies it as that, using a word for praise found only here in the entire Psalter.  We might call it the quintessential Psalm of Praise, for it uses all the traditional language of praise…

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Psalm 66:8-20

On this Sixth Sunday of the Easter season, Easter is frankly fading from our minds.  The trumpets are stored away, the lilies have long been consigned to the trash, and we’re moving on to Ascension Day and Pentecost.  So it’s a good thing to preach on Psalm 66 today, because it reminds us that every…

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Luke 1:46b-55

Our news media are full of stories about invasions:  invasive species, invading armies, invasive procedures, and, on the entertainment page, invasions of aliens or zombies.  Since it is about real life, the Bible is also full of stories about invasions of one sort or another.  More importantly, its central story is about God’s invasion of…

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Psalm 111

Psalm 111 introduces a series of Hallel Psalms (111-117), so named because the Hebrew of each Psalm begins with Hallelu Yah, “Praise Yahweh.” Indeed, Psalm 111 and 112 are twin Psalms, almost Siamese twins, because they are connected in so many ways. Any casual reader can see that the last verse of Psalm 111 is…

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Psalm 113

Psalm 113 is a thing of beauty, both in its form and in its content. It is a beautiful example of the forms of Hebrew poetry, consisting of three perfectly rounded stanzas: the call to praise Yahweh in verses 1-3, the praise of Yahweh’s majesty in verses 4-6, and the praise of Yahweh’s mercy in…

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Psalm 33:12-22

Our Psalm reading for today is the second half of a Psalm of praise to Yahweh. It is focused on the sovereignty of the God of Israel. It is one of the first Psalms of praise in the Psalter and one of only a few such Psalms in the first book of the Psalter, which…

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Colossians 1:15-28

“To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” That is the final verse of Colossians 1 and it pretty much says it all. “Strenuously contend” is what the latter half of this opening chapter conveys, and then some! From Colossians 1:15 through Colossians 1:23, Paul writes exactly…

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Psalm 66:1-9

Even the staunchest believer sometimes wonders about the efficacy of prayer. Does it really work? Does God listen to our prayers and answer in identifiable ways? Not only our personal experience of apparently unanswered prayers, but also some of the more difficult Christian doctrines (the sovereignty of God manifested in predestination and election) make us…

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Psalm 22:19-28

I can easily imagine a 21st century psychologist reading this Psalm for the first time and calling it “The Bi-Polar Psalm,” because of its sudden wild swings of mood. The Psalmist seems to have two totally different minds here. Are these the words of a person driven to mental instability by the clash between his…

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Psalm 148

On this fifth Sunday of Easter, we continue our exploration of the impact of Christ’s resurrection. After a lovely look at Easter comfort in Psalm 23 last Sunday, our reading from Psalm 148 brings us back to the theme of celebration. In Psalm 148 we move from the intimate comfort of “The Lord is my…

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Psalm 150

Well, Easter is over. The long build up of Lent is a distant memory. The blast of the trumpets, the glad songs of the thronging worshipers, and the scent of the lilies have all faded away. Easter is over. Sigh! Not so fast, says the Revised Common Lectionary. Let’s keep our focus on Easter for…

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2 Chronicles 20:1-30

Comments, Observations, and Questions to Consider Firm places often prove otherwise. Stand on financial security? One Wall Street crisis and retirements are on sinking sand. Stand on your strength of your heroes? Say it ain’t so, Joe, but even childhood idols like Lance or Tiger leave us disappointed. Stand on national defense? See 9-11. Stand…

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Psalm 19

This is the kind of psalm that almost begs to be sung, even if it’s just a solo in the shower or car. After all, C.S. Lewis once called Psalm 19 “the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.” So it’s no wonder that lyricists have set a…

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Genesis 14:1-24

Reflections and connections for 1-11, 12-16, and 17-24 Years ago, we would ask a family friend who was part of the “Greatest Generation” about his experience in World War II.  Part of our inquiry was the result of our curiosity; another part was our interest in honoring him.  His memories and his narration were always…

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Ephesians 1:3-14

On this first Sunday of the New Year, it can feel like we are entering “the bleak mid-winter.” All the holiday celebrations are over, so now it’s just one cold, grey, snowy day after another, at least here in West Michigan. But that’s not where our lectionary lesson from the Epistles takes us today. This…

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Psalm 148

Comments, Observations, and Questions to Consider This is a stirring call to praise that’s strikingly reminiscent of Francis of Assisi’s beautiful hymn, “All Creatures of our God and King.”  It’s an invitation to “all creatures of our God and King” to lift up their “voices and with us sing, alleluia, alleluia.”  In fact, Psalm 148…

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