Lectionary reading for 12/24: Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14, 15-20
Selected passage for reflection: Psalm 96
Psalm 96 (NIV UK)
1 Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. 2. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.
3. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous deeds among all peoples. 4. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.
5. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
6. Splendour and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
7. Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
8. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name; bring an offering and come into his courts.
9. Worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.
10. Say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns.’ The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.
11. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
12. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
13. Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness.
Do you ever find yourself reading a passage of scripture only to be taken by surprise by something you may have missed or passed over because those words are so familiar? I read the words, “Sing to the Lord a new song,” and stopped right there. I spend much of my professional life singing and making music. At the time of writing, I was experiencing some career setbacks and I was finding myself thinking and speaking resentful and bitter patterns far too often. Then I read these words: “Sing to the Lord a new song.” I could hear a voice speaking to me and saying; “it’s time to set down those thoughts and sing a new song;” one that’s full of praise for a co-worker with whom I usually find frustrating, one which sees creation for what it is: constantly growing and changing, proclaiming the glory of God, their creative power and beauty.
A voice, the clear lilt and rhythm of which I was certain was the Spirit’s, was nudging me to lift my eyes to what was immediately around me and to look up and see what was more than 20 feet ahead of me (metaphorically and literally). Could it be, that by even entertaining the thought of a brand new song, one full of praise and proclamation of God’s goodness and majesty, would change my outlook on what was past and give me hope for the future?
It’s Christmas Eve, the wonder of the Word becoming flesh and moving into the neighbourhood. This is, indeed, a new song; one of tenderness and power wrapped up in vulnerable humanness, holiness and the Lord of all creation.
What “new song” is the Spirit calling you to sing or hear today? Are there words or a melody to which you have been singing and paying too much attention and you need a change of key and cadence? While there may be snow, ice and cold around you during this time (either metaphorically or actually), what is worth proclaiming day after day and testifies to God’s glory and strength? Perhaps you wish to write lyrics to a song which has yet to be composed. Or maybe hear these words, “Sng to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord all the earth,” and allow the Spirit to gently sing her voice over you.
Gracious Lord, as we rest in you tonight, may we hear your words singing over us, nudging us to listen to your words, your music, your lilt, your cadences, and may we hear your melody above all the others.
About the Author
Elizabeth McColl is an ordained pastor and currently spends her vocational life working with under-resourced young people using music as their vehicle of social transformation. Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, she is never known to live a day without a good mug of coffee and lemon infused water.