Easter Sunday was glorious, wasn’t it?! The tomb is empty! Christ is risen!
So, what do we do now? Now that the trumpets have been packed away, the lilies are gone, and the Hallelujah chorus is still ringing a bit in our ears.
I wonder, what do we do now?
Psalm 150 has a suggestion. We sang it just moments ago, but I would like to read it for you now and I want you listen to how many times the psalmist uses the word “praise.” Count them!
If the psalmist is handing us a to do list, it’s pretty clear what we should do. Praise God. How do we do that? How do you do that?
Once I really began thinking about praise, I was not so sure. I am grateful for all that God has given me and my daily prayers are filled with thank yous, but praise is not the same as thank you. Praise is more like I love you. We praise God, not for what God has given us, but for who God is.
Here in the very last psalm, after 149 psalms filled with cries for help and pleas for forgiveness, psalms of the greatness of God and gratitude and thank yous, the psalmist asks us to praise God. And only when we have read and sang our way through the whole range of human expression do we arrive at this psalm of almost nothing but praise.
It is the doxology of doxologies, isn’t it?!
I have a friend who – whenever I bring her any good news from my life, be it large or small, greets my good news with, “Praise God!”
Yes, praise God. But how exactly? The psalmist here seems to be calling for a veritable symphony of praise. Trumpet, lute, harp, tambourine, strings, pipe, cymbals. Biblical scholars have suggested this psalm lists every musical instrument that would have been available in worship at this time.
So, we are to praise God with everything at our disposal and “all creatures that have breath” should join in with us. Think about that. All creatures that have breath. That’s a lot of creatures.
Eugene Peterson, in his book, Answering God, has this to say about Psalm 150. “This is not a ‘word of praise’ slapped onto whatever mess we are in at the moment. This crafted conclusion of the psalms tells us that all our prayers are going to end in praise.” A prayerful life becomes praise!
And I would be remiss here if I did not mention our own psalmist, Geoffrey Waite, who has so faithfully crafted our music and worship for years. He has crafted our praise. I know he will continue his own work of praising God in new and different ways – and we have not one, but two psalmists to guide us into our worshipping future, but oh! What a blessing it has been to have him with us.
So, the psalmist makes it clear that praise is our big work. How do we do that? How do you do that? I have some suggestions.
Praise God with your good gifts to this church and to the world.
Praise God with good food, with soccer balls, with paint brushes, with hammers and nails, with sandwiches for the hungry, with dance steps, with knitting, with brownies, with poems, with sketches, with loud off-key singing, with doodles, with smiles, with hugs, with good mornings, with teaching, with learning, with helping with love.
May all our work be praise.
With all we have at hand, we can praise God. In our sleeping and in our waking and in all we do in between. We can add our own gifts, our own voices of praise to the music of the universe.
And if we are unsure about what we have to offer God, unsure that it is enough or good enough, I offer these words from the poet, Rumi.
You and I have spoken all these words
but for the way we have to go
words are no preparation
there is no getting ready
other than grace.
And I would add, no getting ready other than praise.
May it be so.