Seeker: “O sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples.” It is Christmas Day, Preacher! Joyous Christmas to you!!
Preacher: “For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be revered above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.” Yes, Seeker, it is Christmas! All believers shout out with joy, blessing to you this Christmas Day!
Seeker: “Honor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts.”
The psalmist also raises his voice in celebration and praise. Although, I am not sure what occasion prompted his verses of joy and adulation to the Divine.
Preacher: “Worship the LORD in holy splendor; tremble before him, all the earth.
Say among the nations, “The LORD is king! The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity.” While I cannot speak to that, it certainly seems that the psalmist’s joyful nature spoke to the designers of the Revised Common Lectionary. Do you see, Seeker, the psalms used for the three “propers” for the Nativity of the Lord can be found in succession in the book of Psalms? Of course normally only one “proper” would be used. But it seems this day praise and celebration is the order of the day!
Seeker: “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD; for he is coming, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth.” (Psalm 96) I do feel like celebrating, Preacher! Let the psalmist give words to the feelings in my heart, spirit & soul!!
Christmas through a theological telescope
Preacher: “The LORD is king! Let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!
Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him, and consumes his adversaries on every side.
His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth.”
Seeker: This praise and worship seems different though. “The heavens proclaim his righteousness; and all the peoples behold his glory. All worshipers of images are put to shame, those who make their boast in worthless idols; all gods bow down before him. Zion hears and is glad, and the towns of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O God.
Preacher: You correct in sensing a change. This praise seems closer to praise for a God who rules from above rather than a God who rules amongst the called and chosen people. “For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods. The LORD loves those who hate evil; he guards the lives of his faithful; he rescues them from the hand of the wicked. Light dawns for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.2 Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!” (Psalm 97)
Seeker: The psalmist, I guess, longed for a Messiah who would swept away all the discord and evil that was in his world. What was beyond human endeavors and capabilities would be solved and resolved by the Messiah. “O sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things. His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory. The LORD has made known his victory; he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations. He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.”
Preacher: It does seem as if our Advent and Christmas perspective is not quite in line with what the ancient called and chosen people had in mind. Problems & turmoil would be solved and resolved, but not necessarily on this plane. “Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises. Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody. With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD. Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who live in it. Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy at the presence of the LORD, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.” (Psalm 98) Still, we can rejoice in the Lord. Perhaps all the more because we can see the relationship that the Divine has had with humanity from the very beginning up to Jesus coming to earth as a child, and growing up to become what believers of the Lord God needed. The ancient called and chose people rejoiced because they had been promised release and redemption. We rejoice because we know how that is a reality for us.
Preacher: And in the blink of an eye, and the turning of the hands on a clock, Christmas is past and we are faced with a future that may not seem much different than it was before. What should one do, Seeker?
Seeker: “Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host!
Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created.
He established them forever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.
Praise the LORD from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command!
Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!
Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds!
Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and women alike, old and young together!” That is what we MUST do, Preacher. We are NOT a people without hope! The turning of the clock, the seasons, and the calendar does not change who the Divine is, and what the Divine has blessed us with! We will praise with all we have within us!
Preacher: “Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven.
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!” (Psalm 148)
Seeker: Shalom & Selah!