Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from heaven!
Praise God on the heights!
Praise God, all of you who are his messengers!
Praise God, all of you who comprise his heavenly forces!
Sun and moon, praise God!
All of you bright stars, praise God!
You highest heaven, praise God!
Do the same, you waters that are above the sky!
Let all of these praise the Lord’s name
because God gave the command and they were created!
God set them in place always and forever.
God made a law that will not be broken.
Praise the Lord from the earth,
you sea monsters and all you ocean depths!
Do the same, fire and hail, snow and smoke,
stormy wind that does what God says!
Do the same, you mountains, every single hill,
fruit trees, and every single cedar!
Do the same, you animals—wild or tame—
you creatures that creep along and you birds that fly!
Do the same, you kings of the earth and every single person,
you princes and every single ruler on earth!
Do the same, you young men—young women too!—
you who are old together with you who are young!
Let all of these praise the Lord’s name
because only God’s name is high over all.
Only God’s majesty is over earth and heaven.
God raised the strength of his people,
the praise of all his faithful ones—
that’s the Israelites,
the people who are close to him.
Praise the Lord! (Common English Bible)
This is the Christmas season. We are in the third day of the twelve days of Christmas. This time on the Church Calendar gives focus to declare, along with the angels and all of God’s creation, Glory to God in the highest! Praise the Lord!
Everything in all creation points to a Creator who cares for us. These days between December 25 and January 5 are to be a great celebration because King Jesus has come and is the rightful Sovereign over all creation. We are meant to grasp the meaning of Christ’s incarnation – affirming the identity of Jesus as both full human and fully divine.
Beginning with Christ’s birth, we enter a reflection on the meaning of Christ’s life and prepare for the journey toward the cross and the empty tomb.
Today, however, we simply praise the Lord along with all creation – which is what the psalmist calls us to do. The entire universe is called to praise the Lord. Everything points to a God who is worthy to be praised.
Let’s assume the distance between the earth and the sun (92 million miles) was reduced to the thickness of a sheet of paper. If that’s the case, then the distance between the earth and the nearest star would be a stack of papers 70 feet high. And the diameter of the galaxy would be a stack of papers 310 miles high. Our galaxy is just a speck of dust in the universe, yet Jesus holds the universe together by the word of his power.
We serve a big God who is worthy to be praised, not only out there in the universe but here on earth. The psalmist calls the earth to echo the adoration of God – fish, animals, birds, even trees, as well as people. Indeed, even the rocks will cry out if people fail to.
Research in the field of bioacoustics has revealed that every day we are surrounded by millions of ultrasonic songs. For example, the electron shell of the carbon atom produces the same harmonic scale as a Gregorian chant. Whale songs can travel thousands of miles underwater. Meadowlarks have a range of three hundred notes. Supersensitive sound instruments have discovered that even earthworms make faint staccato sounds!
Arnold Summerfield, a German physicist, and pianist observed that a single hydrogen atom, which emits one hundred frequencies, is more musical than a grand piano, which only emits eighty-eight frequencies.
“If we had better hearing, and could discern the singing of sea birds, the rhythmic drumming of schools of mollusks, or even the distant harmonics of flies hanging over meadows in the sun, the combined sound might lift us off our feet.”Lewis Thomas
Praise the Lord. We have a vision in today’s psalm of all creation praising God as one great big choir. Praise is to occur with both words and actions. With words, praise is an expression of gratitude for God’s attributes. With actions, praise is a posture of submission and an acknowledgement of dependence. Therefore, through testimony, we declare what God has done in our lives and how the Lord is worthy to be praised and obeyed.
With an emphasis on praise in a season dedicated to joy, it is compassionate to also recognize that for many people Christmas is difficult. Loneliness, thin finances, unemployment, illness, strained relationships, and bittersweet memories can all be a discouraging contrast to the celebration going on around them.
Praise, however, is not just for the joyful; it can happen no matter the circumstances because the Christian’s happiness is not dependent upon positive situations but rather upon the person and work of Jesus. It may not be easy to find our voice of praise along with everyone else, but we are not alone. We can choose to join with all creation to praise the name of the Lord.
One woman shared this during a Christmas season, six weeks after a spine surgery:
“I am thankful for a chance to get out of the house. Of course, my walker was with me. I am amazed how quickly folks move over, slow down, and give me space when I am out with that thing…. At church it feels like I am parting the Red Sea! The reason I hate the walker is because it says to the whole world, ‘Hey, I’m broken!’ I realize we all have areas that we are broken, most of them we can hide or cover up. Why are we so ashamed to confess the truth? Who really has it all together? I know we love our privacy and shun pity. However, I have been shown so much grace, kindness, and compassion as I push this piece of aluminum around that I hope this experience continues to change me for the better. I hope in the future I will be sensitive to those who are broken on the inside as well as the outside. May the love of Christ give me eyes to see people as he does, precious and accepted, just as they are.”
That, my friends, is the reasonable and logical end of praising the Lord – to connect what God has done and is doing with what God can do through us with praise. By simply being who we are created to be, we praise the Lord along with all creation. When people in God’s image, reflect that image in how we talk and how we live, we participate with the universe in declaring God is good.
Praise is the glue that binds us together. Let us praise the name of the Lord.
Let the church praise the Lord!
Let leaders everywhere praise the Lord!
Let healthcare workers and first responders praise the Lord!
Let salespersons and factory workers praise the Lord!
Let law enforcement, lawyers, and judges praise the Lord!
Let the trees, mountains, and all living things praise the Lord!
Let engineers and educators praise the Lord!
Let the little children praise the Lord!
Let clerks and cashiers, waiters and waitresses, janitors and housekeepers praise the Lord!
Let the lost and the lonely praise the Lord along with the happy and satisfied!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Whether you are bursting to proclaim it, or struggle to say it and live it, praise the Lord along with everything in the universe because we serve a God who keeps us close to heart.
So, what do you have to praise the Lord for today? How do you express your praise, both personally and publicly? Where is your favorite place to praise the Lord? When does praise to God come easily for you, and when it is difficult? Who do you like praising the Lord with?
May your life become an embodiment of praise to the God who is worthy to receive all glory, honor, and praise. Amen.