A few weeks ago, the world was given via video a gift of the realities of war and encouragement in the voice of Amelia, a 7-year-old Ukrainian girl, who sang Let It Go from the movie Frozen. The experience was particularly moving because Amelia sang while living with others in a bomb shelter in war torn Ukraine.
As I watched Amelia’s story, I thought of the many places in our world and in our presbytery, where people are living in devastation of all kinds, many without representation, access, equality or equity, let alone news coverage—and yet—the resilient human spirit takes one step at a time.
So, what about us today? What encouragement do we need? In our lives together with Christ, we are in Eastertide moving toward Pentecost. We have once again journeyed with Jesus to Calvary’s Cross and embrace the resurrection power of God’s Spirit available to all for the living of these days—and these days are exceedingly difficult!
We find encouragement in Psalm 150, which gives us the imperative to praise God. Really? Praise God these days? Does our God really understand what we the church are going through? What does it mean to praise God anyhow—no matter what? How are we to praise God when we don’t feel like it or when its inconvenient? Praise God when the recipient of misuse or abuse, human-made or natural disasters, or the everyday, mundane minutiae? Psalm 150 assumes we know why we are to praise God and gives us the imperative to praise God: unabashedly, loudly, with instruments, everything and everywhere.
Yes, we know in our hearts, minds and spirits why we are to praise God. I’m wondering what would happen if we began to bring a spirit of praise to every meeting, to count our collective blessings and even name them one by one (as the song says). What if we approached our challenges with anticipation of and praying for the collective discernment the Spirit gives? How might praising God anyhow (even as we cry), help us become more encouraged, refreshed, revived, find joy again as we serve God together?
Let’s share our stories of praise to encourage each other.
Let’s tell of God’s tangible movement in our lives and congregations.
Let’s praise God with movement and dance.
Let’s praise God with instruments.
Let’s praise God unabashedly, loudly, with all that we are.
Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Psalm 150:6 (NRSV)