Monday, 26 June 2017

Sunday 25 June: Songs of Praise service w. reflection

Sunday morning saw us holding our annual Songs of Praise service. Huge thanks to our friends from Leadhills Silver Band, and our two pipers for playing.
Over the course of two weeks in early June the congregation voted on hymns to be played for the service. Seven hymns were chosen along with a new hymn that we've been learning through June. The play list yesterday was:

Guide me, O thou great Jehovah
Dear Lord and Father of mankind
Sing a new song to the Lord
Be thou my vision
Blessed assurance
[during the collection - Glory, glory, Hallelujah]
What a friend we have in Jesus
Amazing grace

Our readings picked up the theme of singing new songs, via a selection from the Book of Psalms:
Ps 33; Ps 47; Ps 138; Ps 146; Ps 147; Ps 150

And, finally, the reflection for worship: 'It is fitting to praise'

‘Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous! It is fitting for the upright to praise him.’ Ps 33:1
‘Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy!’ Ps 47:1
‘I will praise you, O Lord with all my heart; before the ‘gods’ I will sing your praise.’ Ps 138:1
‘Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul. I will sing praise to my God all my life; 
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.’ Ps 146:1-2
‘Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, 
how pleasant and fitting to praise him!’ Ps 147:1
‘Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.’ Ps 150:1

The six psalms chosen for this morning’s Songs of Praise service don’t beat around the bush:
they are very much a call to sing songs of praise – and, they’re not the only psalms to do so.
But why? Why sing songs of praise to God?
Why does this seem to be such an important thing to do?
Well, each psalmist tries to unpack that in different ways.
Each reminds the reader or hearer of the psalm of who God is, and what God has done:
sing a new song, says the psalmist, it is fitting –
to sing joyfully, in all sorts of ways;
so many instruments to choose from, including trumpets…
and I’m sure the bagpipes were somewhere in the list.

It is fitting, says the psalmist in Psalm 33 because:
God is faithful,
God loves righteousness and justice,
the earth is full of his love – his unfailing love.
If that’s not enough, praise is fitting because:
God spoke the world into being…
And, unlike earthly rulers who flip flop on policy and seem to want to work by populism,
God’s plans stand firm:
there’s a long-thought out strategy at work –
a plan that is built upon mercy and justice, peace and love.

Our other psalms also flag up why to sing a song of praise to God.
In Psalm 47, we’re reminded of the awesomeness of God:
that it’s God who’s ultimately in control – that’s also the trumpet psalm, by the by!
‘Sing praises to God’, cries the psalmist, for,
in the midst of a world that seems in turmoil,
that seems to be spinning out of control,
that seems to be run by folk who favour the rich and the powerful –
in the midst of it all, God will ultimately prevail;
a long-term plan of bringing in a kingdom that is based on self-giving love –
modelled by God who so freely gives of self
for the whole of creation,
…for each one of us.
It is fitting to sing songs of praise for this present mess isn’t how it will always be:
sing songs of praise,
and work to bring in God’s kingdom.

It is fitting to sing songs of praise, for, in the words of the writer of Psalm 138:
God answers when we call;
God looks upon those considered lowly;
God is a preserver of life;
God brings meaning and purpose to our lives.

It is fitting to sing songs of praise, according to Psalm 146 because:
those whose hope is in the Lord, are blessed;
God is faithful forever;
God upholds the cause of the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry,
sets prisoners free,
gives sight to the blind,
lifts up those bowed down,
looks after the alien, the widow, and the fatherless –
and, in Psalm 147:
God heals the broken-hearted, and binds their wounds…
and knows each star in the cosmos by name.
A picture of intimate tenderness, and also, of God’s magnificence.

It is fitting to sing praises, for we worship the One who leads by example:
shows us, who are created in his image,
how to be, what to do, how to live.
To live with a song of praise on our lips,
to live with love in our hearts,
to love, as God loves:
with every fibre of our being –
and, in joy,
to sing in the kingdom
where all are valued,
where all are beloved –
where none live in poverty,
where there is food and water for all,
where, blossoming and flourishing in God’s love
everything, everyone, that has breath will, in turn, be able to praise the Lord.

We are God’s hands, and feet, God’s body on earth:
let’s sing a new song of God’s love, and let us be God’s love in the world. Amen.

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