Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Song of Thanksgiving

Tonight we celebrate our "We Gather Together" dinner with people around the table representing a wide expression of who we are in mission and ministry. I cannot but think about the diversity of homes and lives we come from on a night like this one.  Our stories and life stories are important and unique.  But in this moment we gather together as one at the table together and at the feet of God.  I am glad for this night and for the sense of community we find side-by-side.
There is a particular Thanksgiving tradition in our house that probably many of your families share.  Before we eat we will go around the table and share something for which we are thankful.  Sometimes they are dramatic, but most of the time they are the simple things of life: the love of family, health, happiness over something that has happened or something that God has brought into our lives.  We find a moment a lot like this as the God’s people prepare to begin a grand act of worship. A psalm, or song, sings out in thanksgiving to God.  Hear I Chronicles 16:23-36 with me: 

23 Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day.
24 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
25 For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.
26 For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
27 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place.
28 Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
29 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

30 Tremble before him, all the earth!  The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.
31 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”
32 Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them!
33 Let the trees of the forest sing, let them sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.

34 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
35 Cry out, “Save us, God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise.” 36 Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Then all the people said “Amen” and “Praise the Lord.”

This great song of thanksgiving sings out for who God is.  Listen again to some of the language it uses to describe God and the acts of God; declare his glory, his marvelous deeds, he is worthy of praise, to be feared above all gods, splendor and majesty, strength and joy, splendor of his holiness….these are incredible words to describe an incredible God.  What are some of the words you might add?

This great song of thanksgiving then calls out to all of creation:  tremble before him all the earth, heavens rejoice, the earth be glad, fields be jubilant,  seas resound, trees and forests sing….As I read these words I could not help but think about an encounter Jesus had with the Pharisees just outside of Jerusalem.  The story is found in Luke 19 and begins in verse  37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” 40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”  Jesus wanted the Pharisees to understand that true praise for God could not be silenced.  This is exactly what the worshippers were thinking when they sang this song of thanksgiving. Those gathered at the grand worship service felt that God was so powerful, so incredible that all of creation would join them in their songs of thanksgiving and praise.

This great song of thanksgiving moves from the nature of God to the breadth of creation and finally calls us to something very personal.  It reminds of God’s love; of God’s way of salvation, of God as their deliverer.
We need to be reminded of that in a day like this one.  Many of us in this room grieve the death of Jim Kirk.  Others come with heart break and pain unspoken, but still very real.  The great song of thanksgiving lets us know that while pain and sorrow may shape our day, the power and the love of God is everlasting to everlasting.  God will not leave us in our pain or sorrow, but will lift us up into His presence. God will heal us and redeem us.  In moments of joy and pain sing out- that our song might join their song to God that declares that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise.” 36 Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Then all the people said “Amen” and “Praise the Lord.”

May your Thanksgiving Day call you to God’s feet in a song of thanksgiving and joy.  Happy Thanksgiving!  

1 comment:

Craig said...

This morning in Maryland I "Googled" 'listen to a song of Thanksgiving to God' and selected your URL.
We serve an awesome and mightly merciful God; our deliverer. Thanksgiving abounds in my heart and this blog encouraged my further. I am printing I Chron 16:23-36 and taking it to the place we have been invited to. God's continued blessings to you. C Nelson, Elders Baptist Church, Eldersburg