Sunday, October 27, 2019
Pastor Mark Aune
Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen
Can I get a hallelujah this morning – let’s try it again. Hallelujah.
I know what you are thinking? Am I in the wrong church this morning? Perhaps I should have stayed home. Did Pastor Aune have two Red Bull energy drinks this morning?
No you are not in the wrong church this morning. No I did not drink any Red Bull energy drinks this morning. You are right where you need to be on this Reformation Sunday, this commitment Sunday.
We don’t have to save our hallelujahs just for Easter Sunday. Why not on Reformation Sunday? Why not on commitment Sunday?
“Hallelu is the plural imperative to the verb hallel which means to praise.
And jah is shorthand for the personal name of God – Yahweh.”
Hallelu – jah means praise the Lord.
The word hallel is used 13 times in our psalm for today.
Praise times 13
It is not without reason that the very last psalm in the book of psalms is a psalm of praise.
Praise is our final landing place with God.
Praise is where we need to go as God’s people.
Praise is what God wants us to do. It is what we have been create for in the eyes and heart of God.
When a cardinal sings its cheerful song it is doing what God created it to do-praise!
Psalm one hundred and fifty is a perfect ending to the part of our bible that allows us to pray and sing every conceivable emotion and experience that is known to humanity.
From the depths of heartache and despair to the heights of God’s loftiest mountain and everyplace in between, the prayers and songs of the psalms captures it.
Notice how the writer of Psalm 150 compares and contrast the reasons for our praise.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty firmament!
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his surpassing greatness!
These first two verses tell us where we are to praise God and why we are to praise God.
We praise the Lord in the sanctuary and literally out under all the heavens.
We praise God because of God’s deeds, what God has done and we praise God just because God is great and God is good and we thank him for more than just our food.
The where and why of praise.
Where do you praise God and why do you praise God?
I wonder if for some of us praise is considered just an emotion or a feeling and when we aren’t feeling it, when life hasn’t been easy, we think we can’t do it. Or we are more reserved about our feelings and emotions and so praise as an outward expression of faith can make us uncomfortable.
But what if we considered praise a faith practice like prayer, worship, giving or reading scripture.
What if we were intentional about adding praise to the list of things God invites us to do in order to be in relationship with God in a manner that changes our lives and in a way that God can use us in the world.
What if in your prayers, instead of listing the things you want God to do or you need God to fix or the concerns and worries you carry about the people in your life, you were to begin your prayer with praise and end your prayer with praise. What do you think will happen?
How might praise frame your prayers in a new and different way?
How would praise begin to change you and your relationship with God?
When we praise something or someone we are drawn closer to it and when we praise God and God alone the effect of that praise will be to draw you into a closer and deeper relationship with God. And God likes that. God wants that from us. Hallelujah.
What if in your giving, instead of viewing it as an obligation or a burden, you framed your decisions about giving to the church and to other organizations as an act of praise.
We talk a lot around here about giving and stewardship as something we do out of gratitude and thanks for what God has done in our lives and in our church and we want to respond to that by giving back to God.
By sharing in what God is up to in our midst. By our heartfelt desire to see the love and the grace of God shine brightly in our work and in our local communities.
If this is true and I believe it is and these are all reasons why it is a joy to give and share then what we give and how we give is also praise.
We are called to praise God for his mighty deeds. For what God has done for you and for me and for the power of God at work in our lives and in our midst and when we give, when we are intentional about how we do that and why we do that we are praising God for what God has done.
Praise is stewardship. When I fill out a giving plan I am praising God for his surpassing greatness and the mighty deeds God has done.
Praise God for this church.
Praise God for Sunday school and preschool and confirmation and youth group and loaves and fishes and the Boys and Girls club. For those who serve and those who lead.
Praise God for church choirs and bell choirs, worship bands and instruments and for singing.
Praise God for befrienders, care team ministry and the Gathering and for the hospitality extended to family’s at our funeral lunches when they are grieving the death of a loved on.
Praise God for how clean and beautiful our campus is kept each week. Praise God for matrix housing and the ability to use our building to house the homeless. Praise God for the columbarium and for Neighbor’s Inc. and for the Union Gospel Mission and LSS and all the organizations who depend on us to help feed the hungry and shelter the homeless and care for the widow and the orphan.
Oh yes, stewardship is praise. Giving is praise. Generosity is praise.
Praise God for what God is doing in our midst and with our lives and for the gift and the privilege we all have to be part of a community of believers that take the call to praise seriously and joyfully. Hallelujah.
We could even continue the psalm by saying: praise God with your one dollar, praise God with your 10 thousand dollars; praise God with your one hour, praise God with your entire day. We give any and all things in praise to God who does everything.
We praise a God who is always at work reforming and changing the church. For a God who is changing our church as well. What the protestant reformation began 502 years ago needs to continue. We praise a God who is always reforming and renewing the church not in our image but in God’s image.
A church that in all ways points primarily to Jesus as the one through whom our lives are transformed and changed and through whom we are empowered to go forth into the world in peace and in praise and in good courage.
We praise God in this sanctuary as a way to know who we are and how we are in relationship with God. We are God’s children. Created for praise. Called by God to a life of generosity.
We are the church. Always new. Always being reformed. Sent out to love and serve the world. And so we say – Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!
 Commentary on Psalm 150 by Kathryn M. Schifferdecker Working Preacher