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Practicing Praise

A Christmas reflection for Thursday, December 28th by The Rev. Lauren Scott

Lectionary reading for 12/27/2023:Psalm 148; Jeremiah 31:15-17; Matthew 2:13-18

Selected passage for reflection: Psalm 148



Read

Psalm 148, NRSUVE

 

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 forever 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!


Reflect

When this devotional reaches you, it will be a few days after Christmas. I invite you to pause for a moment and take a breath - you’ve made it. You’ve, once again, made it through a season that is so often so full - full of crammed schedules, endless checklists, and, let’s just name it, overwhelming chaos. And yet in this Advent season (in each and every other season throughout the year, really) we are called to praise our Creator. But where’s the time to do that? How do we fit that in?


Cue Psalm 148. This psalm, once again, reminds us that Creation so often reminds us, humans, how to praise, how to be, how to live.


Throughout this season, we have seen and heard of Creation’s strong and abundant presence in praising our Creator God.

  • In “Joy to the World”, the hymn many of us sing by candlelight at Christmas Eve services, we celebrate when heaven and nature sing together. We proclaim that it is in joyful praise that the fields, floods, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sounding joy. Nature repeats the sounding joy.

  • In the hymn “Angels We Have Heard on High”, we sing of angels sweetly singing o’er the plain and before a single human being is mentioned in this song, the mountains are the one that respond, echoing the angels joyous strains.

  • In the manger scenes, we see images of animals surrounding the one who came to save and redeem the world. Donkeys, cattle, and sheep all welcome the one named Emmanuel, God with us. The barn animals served as witnesses to the beauty and mystery of holiness and humanness breaking into the world in the way of a baby. In the birth of Christ in and of itself, the world experienced a moment that joins heaven and earth, spirit and flesh. Jesus’ first crib was in the home of animals. May we imagine, just for a second, that the neighing and braying served as a praise-filled chorus, welcoming our Savior and Redeemer into the world.


Without saying a single word, Creation praises the Lord - simply by witnessing, experiencing, and living.


And so I wonder: how might our witnesses, experiences, and lives be ones full of praise as well?


As we anticipate the ending to another year and prepare for a new year ahead, may we all continue to witness, experience, and live lives of praise to the Holy One, the Holy Three who created all that was, who is creating among and within all that is, and who will create forevermore. Amen.


Respond 

Take one minute to reflect on what God might be doing in your life. What was that experience like for you?

Take one minute to reflect on how you praise God in your day to day life. How could you not just take time, but make time to praise God even more so today?


Rest 

God of all Creation - we admit that we do not create time in our lives to praise you.  Like all of Creation, help us to practice praise and, by doing so, may our hearts and minds be more open to all that you are doing and creating around us and within us. Amen.


About the Author 

The Reverend Lauren Scott (she/her) is the Associate Pastor for Youth and Families at Riverside Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville, FL. Lauren graduated from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia with a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts of Practical Theology. You can often find Lauren sipping coffee at local coffee shops; traveling and exploring new places; watching the dolphins from her apartment balcony; and spending time outside with her dog, Georgia. 



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