June 2, 2021
Psalm 98 (CEB)
Rev. Dr. Carole R. Martin
Retired Clergy, First Broad Street UMC
Psalm 98 (CEB)
98 Sing to the Lord a new song
because he has done wonderful things!
His own strong hand and his own holy arm
have won the victory!
2 The Lord has made his salvation widely known;
he has revealed his righteousness
in the eyes of all the nations.
3 God has remembered his loyal love
and faithfulness to the house of Israel;
every corner of the earth has seen our God’s salvation.
4 Shout triumphantly to the Lord, all the earth!
Rejoice out loud!
Sing your praises!
5 Sing your praises to the Lord with the lyre—
with the lyre and the sound of music.
6 With trumpets and a horn blast,
shout triumphantly before the Lord, the king!
7 Let the sea and everything in it roar;
the world and all its inhabitants too.
8 Let all the rivers clap their hands;
let the mountains rejoice out loud altogether 9 before the Lord
because he is coming to establish justice on the earth!
He will establish justice in the world rightly;
he will establish justice among all people fairly.
Ah, it’s Spring! Earth is bursting forth with new life! I’ve seen new-born lambs by their mamas and tiny hatchlings in their nests. The trees and flowers fill the landscape with rainbow hues. It’s as if the world around us is shouting praises to the Lord. Just as the psalmist says,
Shout triumphantly to the Lord, all the earth!
Be happy! Rejoice out loud! Sing your praises!
I’m typically not an exuberant, out-loud-praiser of God. I may notice what is going on around me, I may appreciate it, but I seldom give it voice. But there are times that call for praise. Sometimes we need to be cheerleaders to help people look up and see where God is at work in the world.
One Wednesday evening at a church I pastored, I was walking up the stairs from the fellowship hall to the sanctuary. Some of the children and youth were on the stairs as well, going from dinner to their respective groups. Near the top of the stairs, I paused at the door of my office to unlock it and went in.
One boy’s curiosity got the best of him. He asked, “Is this your office?”
I said it was. He said, “So you work here? For pay?”
I said that I did. He let that sink in for a moment. Then he asked, “So you actually get paid to praise God?!”
I have pondered that question/exclamation for years. His observation changed how I saw my role. By vocation, I am a member of the clergy of the Holston Conference. So, yes, technically, I have gotten paid to praise God. And, I am a ‘professor’ – as in, I proclaim what I profess – that Jesus Christ is Lord. But then, I also must consider I proclaim what I profess aloud with how I live my life. It is clear – the children and others are watching.
The previous year has tested us and continues to test and stress us. The pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities of millions of people who often carry on as best they can. Food insecurity, health care and housing shortages, injustices, and more. Grief grips us all. Many people have poured resources into doing what they can to help alleviate needs of those who are suffering.
Once in a while, though, we need to pause long enough to look up and get a bigger perspective. Imagine rivers clapping their hands, and mountains shouting their praise. Why? Because in God, we have hope. We are promised that God will make things right. We are called to praise and participate where God is at work in the world.
Gracious Lord, you invite us to participate in praising you with all of creation. Help us also to participate in establishing justice and righteousness for all, so that all of creation may rejoice. Amen.