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Trinity Sunday, June 15, 2014

Scripture Reading: Psalm 148
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
     praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
     praise him, all his host!

Praise him, sun and moon;
     praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
     and you waters above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
     for he commanded and they were created.
He established them forever and ever;
     he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
     you sea monsters and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost,
     stormy wind fulfilling his command!

Mountains and all hills,
     fruit trees and all cedars!
Wild animals and all cattle,
     creeping things and flying birds!

Kings of the earth and all peoples,
     princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and women alike,
     old and young together!

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
     for his name alone is exalted;
     his glory is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people,
     praise for all his faithful,
     for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord! (NRSV)

In our pluralistic and religiously diverse world, the chances that all of creation will erupt into praise for the God of Israel are pretty slim. It’s an evocative image, to be sure, but not likely to happen—short of a miracle, that is.

But I’m not convinced that the kind of praise envisioned in this psalm—and in numerous places throughout the Bible—is what God is really all that interested in anyway. Ancient Israel, like many other premodern people, understood God as a kingly deity, seated on a throne, deserving—or demanding—the praise of his subjects. This kind of patriarchal and often imperial understanding of God is less compelling today. And so I wonder if our conception of “praising” God should also be updated.

It seems to me that what God really wants is what Jesus told us was most important: loving God with our entire beings and loving our neighbors as ourselves. What better praise could we offer God than to do these things?

And perhaps this kind of love is something that might actually be possible throughout a pluralistic and religiously diverse world. Perhaps the world could unite in such “praise.”

We’re far from it now, of course, but we are called to hope, to dream radical dreams of what the world could look like when transformed by the powerful love of God. So let’s dream that dream of worldwide praise.

Loving God, I offer you the highest of praises: my total love for you and for all of your children. Amen.

Written by John W. Vest, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

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