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A Call to After Christmas Praise

December 27, 2015

A CALL TO AFTER CHRISTMAS PRAISE

December 27, 2015 (First Sunday After Christmas)

New Millennium Church, Little Rock, AR

 

Psalm 148


1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
   praise him in the heights! 
2 Praise him, all his angels;
   praise him, all his host! 


3 Praise him, sun and moon;
   praise him, all you shining stars! 
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
   and you waters above the heavens! 


5 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
   for he commanded and they were created. 
6 He established them for ever and ever;
   he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.* 


7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
   you sea monsters and all deeps, 
8 fire and hail, snow and frost,
   stormy wind fulfilling his command! 


9 Mountains and all hills,
   fruit trees and all cedars! 
10 Wild animals and all cattle,
   creeping things and flying birds! 


11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
   princes and all rulers of the earth! 
12 Young men and women alike,
   old and young together! 


13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
   for his name alone is exalted;
   his glory is above earth and heaven. 
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
   praise for all his faithful,
   for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord!

 

One of the parenting memories I cherish most dearly is of reading to our sons (Martyn and Elliott) at bedtime.  We read at other times, of course—because “reading is fundamental”—but the bedtime reading experiences were especially memorable.  

 

We had a nightly ritual.  The boys were to be bathed and dressed in their pajamas.  Then we said prayers with them (yes, even before they knew what prayers meant).  And then we climbed into bed with them and read.  

 

One of their favorite books—and it was a favorite for each son although they were born 27 months apart and have wonderfully different personalities—was a children’s book titled Goodnight Moon.  It is an illustrated book with warm soothing colors about a young bunny saying goodnight to everything in sight.  Please permit me, for the sake of nostalgia if nothing else, to share the entire book with you.

 

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

 

In the great green room

There was a telephone

And a red balloon

And a picture of’

The cow jumping over the moon

 

And there were three little bears sitting on chairs

And two little kittens

And a pair of mittens

 

And a little toy house

And a young mouse

 

And a comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush

And a quiet old lady who was whispering “hush”

 

Goodnight room

Goodnight moon

 

Goodnight cow jumping over the moon

Goodnight light

And the red balloon

 

Goodnight bears

Goodnight chairs

 

Goodnight kittens

And goodnight mittens

 

Goodnight clocks

And goodnight socks

 

Goodnight little house

And goodnight mouse

 

Goodnight comb

And goodnight brush

And goodnight to the old lady whispering “hush”

 

Goodnight stars 

Goodnight air

 

Goodnight noises everywhere.

 

Like Goodnight Moon is read to children at the end of playful days, we ponder Psalm 148 today, the first Sunday after Christmas Day.  Holiday parties are past.  Trips to search for “the right present” for friends and loved ones are finished.  

 

Holiday meals have been planned, shopped for, prepared, served, and eaten.  House decorations have been brought from storage and arranged, and the house has been cleaned to receive loved ones and friends.  

 

On the first Sunday after Christmas Day, leftovers may remain from the holiday meal(s).  Decorations remain in place waiting to be removed and stored again.  The urgency to shop for gifts “in time for Christmas” is past us.  In this perhaps less frantic and festive time, what should followers of Jesus bear in mind?

 

“Hallelujah,” which is translated “Praise the LORD!”  

 

At Psalm 148 the Psalmist calls for each aspect of the Creation to be part of a universal Hallelujah Chorus.  The Psalmist begins by calling the heavenly realm—the angels, the heavenly assembly, and the sun, moon, and stars—to praise the LORD (Ps. 148:1-6).

 

Then the Psalmist calls that the LORD be praised “from the earth.”  The Psalmist leaves nothing out.  The “sea monsters and all deeps” are called to praise the LORD.  Fire and hail are called to praise the LORD.  Snow and frost are called to praise the LORD.  Stormy wind, mountains and all hills, fruit trees and cedars are called to praise the LORD.  Wild and domesticated animals on land, creeping things including those that crawl from underground, and birds are called to praise the LORD (Psalm 148:6-10).

 

The Psalmist then calls for the LORD to be praised by people of every social status and generation.  No one is left out from the call to praise, whether by social standing, gender, or maturity.  

 

The universe is called to praise the LORD.  Creation is called to praise the LORD.  All humanity is called to praise the LORD.  This psalm declares that we are, separately and together, intended to be instruments of divine praise.  We are, separately and together, one big praise team!  Nothing in creation is left out from the call to praise, because each being, creature, object, person, and all of us are created to praise the LORD.

 

There’s a message for us.  Every object, creature, and being, no matter how important or menial their function or activity  may seem, is summoned, urged, challenged, exhorted, and reminded to praise the LORD.  

 

So, on the first Sunday after Christmas Day, we are summoned, urged, challenged, exhorted, and reminded to look beyond leftover holiday food, and praise the LORD who gave the world Jesus.  

 

On the first Sunday after Christmas Day, we are called and challenged to see ourselves as part of all that God has placed Jesus above.  Jesus is above the angels and heavenly host.  Jesus is above all creation.  Jesus is above all human rulers and authority figures.  On the first Sunday after Christmas, we are called to praise the Lord for the blessing of Jesus! 

 

On the first Sunday after Christmas, Psalm 148 inspires us to embrace a “Goodnight Moon” perspective on all that is “leftover” from Christmas Day.  

 

God sent Jesus to us to live among us.  Hallelujah (praise the LORD)!  

 

God sent Jesus to show divine love to us.  Hallelujah (praise the LORD)!

 

God sent Jesus to liberate us from the powers of evil and despair.  Hallelujah (praise the LORD)!

 

Because God sent Jesus to our world, where empires seem to always hold the upper hand, Jesus told us that the meek, not the empires, will inherit the earth.  Hallelujah (praise the LORD)!

 

God sent Jesus to show us that the issue is not which political party grabs power, but whether we each love God and one another so much that we see and treat every person as part of God’s universal kingdom of the beloved.  Hallelujah (praise the LORD)!

 

Hallelujah (praise the LORD!), politicians and poor people.

 

Praise the LORD, tycoons, trash-talkers, and trash-haulers!

 

Praise the LORD, all creatures, everywhere, every day!

 

On the first Sunday after Christmas, praise the LORD!  When the decorations are coming down, praise the LORD!  Whatever the day, situation, or setting, praise the LORD!

 

Praise the LORD, and hope!

 

Praise the LORD, and love!

 

Praise the LORD, and persevere!

 

Praise the LORD, and live by faith!

 

Praise the LORD, and remember that God’s truth will outlive every empire!

 

Praise the LORD, and serve those who live on the margins of life (“the meek of the earth”).

 

Praise the LORD, and do not be afraid to speak truth to power.

 

Praise the LORD, and plant seeds of love and hope in people who believe their lives are like a desert!

 

Praise the LORD, and nurture the young.

 

Praise the LORD, and encourage parents.

 

Praise the LORD, and comfort elders!

 

Praise the LORD, today!  

 

Praise the LORD, tomorrow!  

 

Praise the LORD, next week!

 

Praise the LORD, next Sunday!

 

Praise the LORD, next year!

 

Praise the LORD, always!  

 

Amen.

 

©Wendell Griffen, 2015