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Monday, August 8, 2016

Today’s 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)

By my count there are thirty different aspects of creation called on to praise God in Psalm 148. I made seven different categories (your results may vary) from cosmic forces to geologic features to people, but all bound together by a “duty that will not pass away” (verse 6).

The word “duty” caught me. What is this obligation all of creation shares? Certainly Psalm 148 names it as “praise,” and we do that when we pray and sing and worship, absolutely. But we do it even more profoundly when we are who we are and do what we do—be “we” hail or hill or creeping thing or maiden or whatever we were created to be—as authentically and unselfconsciously and joyfully as we can. That duty, seemingly so simple, takes a lifetime to figure out and get good at (for me, anyway). Luckily that is what we are given.

Mulling this over, words from a prayer regularly prayed at my house come to mind:

We the whole of creation,
in all our frailty and mystery,
with all our races and peoples,
join hands around your table—
in doubt, in love, in risk, in hope—
and offer you thanks in a new way,
not by being lifted out of what is human,
but by daring to be what we truly are—
the work of your loving hands.
God-touched and frail,
yet possessing a dignity beautiful
beyond belief . . .                     

(from Eucharistic Liturgies: Studies in American Pastoral Liturgy)

Creator God, we thank you for the cosmic bounty of which we are but a piece. May it—may we—praise you forever. Amen.

Written by Susan Quaintance, Program Coordinator, Center for Life and Learning

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