“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights.”
Praise the Lord! These days, when we hear those words, we might think that people just want to sound religious. Or it may bring to mind sayings like “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.” We may immediately think of television programs with that name, or we might remember a person who uses that phrase to respond to absolutely everything, good or bad.
When the Psalmist uses this phrase, however, it is not in an offhanded way. Read the entire Psalm 148 and you will see that “praise” is not an acclamation, but an imperative. (Remember those English grammar classes that you had once upon a time? Your English teacher would be proud to hear to you throw out words like “imperative” once in a while.) An imperative is a command, like “Straighten your room,” or “Pick up that paper you just threw on the ground.” The Psalmist is reminding us that all creation should give praise to God because of who God is — creator of the heavens and earth, and of the sun and moon, and of the sand and sea, and of you and me. We are to praise God because of who God is.
This Sunday, we will listen once again to the words of the prophet Isaiah in the songs of Handel’s Messiah. We will hear the sounds of harpsichord and strings. We will hear the story foretold of the Messiah who came over 2000 years ago, God with us, Immanuel. And at the end, we will, without prompting stand to sing, “Hallelujah!” Why? Because God is worthy of our praise. God, creator of all that is, stepped into time and space in the form of a baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Angels sing! Shepherds come and see this wonder child. And with the Psalmist, we hear and feel the admonition to “Praise the Lord!” Come and join us as we worship God with music at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
What has Immanuel “God with us” done in your life? Then, “Praise the Lord!!”
Jan McCoy is associate pastor of First United Methodist Church of Covington. She may be reached at email@example.com.