Freedom to Praise
About ten years ago I heard “Revelation Song” by Jeannie Lee Riddle for the first time. Although it was beautiful, I thought the lyrics didn’t make sense; they seemed to be a jumble of words. Then a friend explained that the lyrics are from Revelation, chapters 4 and 5. Turning to the passage, I read about the point in John’s vision when all of creation comes before Jesus, who is sitting on his throne in heaven, and begins to praise him.
Suddenly, I got it; I understood why the song lyrics had sounded so jumbled. In the scripture passage, there is much repetition: “Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come” (Rev. 4:8) and “Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered!” (Rev. 5:12). And it’s no wonder. I have no doubt that when all of creation is gathered up into God’s kingdom and we are in Christ’s presence, we will not be able to help ourselves: We will want to praise, praise, and praise some more. With so much praising, we will run out of words because there are not enough available to adequately express our praise of God. And so we will repeat ourselves and jumble our words. We will shout and sing and dance and laugh. We will be free to praise in a way we have never experienced before.
This is what I imagine David has in mind as he writes the words of Psalm 27. He wants just one thing: to live in the Lord’s house for eternity and be able to offer constant praise. He wants to see the Lord’s beauty, offer sacrifices, shout with joy, and sing. David understands that when he is in God’s presence, he will be free to praise God however and whenever he can, over and over, forever and ever. Amen.
God of all creation, free me to praise you forevermore. Amen.
Sometimes we struggle with the challenges we face. If God is good and God is for us, then why do we experience pain and loss? Isaiah feels the sting of darkness and despair, and the psalmist has experienced days of distress. Yet both encourage themselves with the promise that God has not forgotten them. The light will come, as will the shouts of joy. The New Testament readings warn against following human leaders to the extent that we take our eyes off Christ. The Corinthian church has divided into factions that identify primarily with Paul or Peter, not Christ! The Gospel reading shows that Peter, like all other human leaders, is merely a disciple himself. Jesus is the one we should seek to follow.
Read Isaiah 9:1-4. How has God’s love freed you to find your calling?
Read Psalm 27:1, 4-9. When have you called out to God? How has God helped you turn your cries to praise?
Read 1 Corinthians 1:10-18. How have you experienced division within the body of Christ? How might a focus on Christ rather than particular faith leaders or denominations help you to repair division and work through differences?
Read Matthew 4:12-23. How have significant changes in your life (like a loved one’s death or a career change) allowed your ministry to grow?
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