let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into God's presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to the Lord with songs of praise!
(adapted from Psalm 95:1-2)
The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: Israel will be saved, and enemies of Israel will be defeated, Egyptians, Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites. Yet, after the defeat of Moab, the Lord will restore its fortunes.
2 Timothy 4:1-22
The writer of this letter to Timothy closes with an acknowledgement that his death is near, "The time of my departure has come," and an appraisal of what his life has been like, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." He expects his new life, and that of others, to be good, "There is reserved for me the crown of righteousness..., and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing."
That good fight that he had fought was not restricted to enemies. His friends had at times deserted him, but, looking back, he sees that he had always been strengthened by the Lord. So, looking forward, he confidently expects the Lord to continue to be with him, to continue to rescue him and save him for the heavenly kingdom.
As Carl Halladay puts it in Preaching through the Christian Year C, he has known human desertion and divine loyalty so that "the mood of our text is confident, and the message is one of hope."
Psalm 95 is the traditional call-to-worship psalm. After the call (and even within it--see "rock of our salvation"), the psalm lists reasons for our worship. Summing up so far, we are called to praise God and to do so audibly, and we are reminded that God has already done a lot for us. Thus, an appropriate response to the gifts we have already received is gratitude.
Yet, we also may experience rebellion, distrust, and doubt. The admonition is this psalm helps us to remember that when we don't trust God, and so turn to our own ways and wills, things don't turn out very well for us. So, let's go back to the beginning of the psalm and sing the words and live them out.
Psalm 96 has a universal note. In verse 3, we are directed to tell of the Lord's glory among the nations, the Lord's wonderful deeds among all peoples. In verse 7, all families are directed to acclaim the glory and strength of the Lord.
Are we able to recognize the work of God in our own lives? Do we see God's will working through the hands of other people?
Are we able to recognize the work of God in other people's lives?
Verses 7 and 8 in the Common English Bible say "Give to the Lord....". The New Revised Standard Version says "Ascribe to the Lord." When I read this passage in the NRSV, I wondered when was the last time that I heard the word "ascribe" in conversation. I don't think I use it often--or, ever. So, of course, I googled it. That's how I learned that ascribe is used as a company name. For example:
Our Ascribe™ Consumer Content Platform provides the ability to extract insight from unstructured data anywhere and transform it into actionable insights. ... www.languagelogic.info/products.htmlAlthough I'm not sure what a content platform is, I do see a powerful metaphor in their description of what it does--provide the ability to extract insight from unstructured data. I'm asking myself, "Where did I see God today?" That is, as I go through my normal day, as I meet people and events, how do I see God working through them, being present to me?
But not just noticing.
As I continue to read the description of the content platform, it promises not only to extract insight but also to transform it into actionable insights. That is, to do something with the awareness.
Psalm 96 promises that the Lord is coming to judge the world, to judge it with righteousness and with truth. May we live lives that make this news good.
Like a thornbush brandished by the hand of a drunkard
is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
Like an archer who wounds everybody
is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard.
Like a dog that returns to its vomit
is a fool who reverts to his folly.
Do you see persons wise in their own eyes?
There is more hope for fools than for them.
Prayer for Today: Pray Psalm 96.