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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, May 2, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 150

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
   praise him in his mighty firmament!
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
   praise him according to his surpassing greatness!

Praise him with trumpet sound;
   praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
   praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with clanging cymbals;
   praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
   Praise the Lord! (NRSV)

When people hear that Ken and I once took a trip to Africa, they want to know was it life changing and if so why? The answer is an unequivocal yes!

When we decided to go on the Fourth Church Cameroon mission trip in 2008 we had no idea how many hours we would spend worshiping in churches as well as in the countryside. Imagine two- to three-hour services filled with lifted voices, African instruments, dancing feet, and constant movement. Honestly, it was an adjustment, yet some of the most soul-satisfying moments of our life.

Our African brothers and sisters sang out loudly, humbly, gratefully, and with total abandonment. When we met some of the worshipers, there was an aura of anticipation and excitement about praising God through their music. They were both proud and excited to share their services with us, and we were honored and grateful to participate.

There was a palpable joy filling the air during these services. There was no embarrassment if you didn’t have a good voice or sang off key, a comfort level that was, candidly, a stark difference from the typically more reserved Midwestern worship service we all know. Perhaps we can learn from both the psalmists and our Cameroonian friends.

Imagine a cacophony of voices and instruments combining together to praise the Lord both with voice and movement. Not worried about being perfect but devout, earnest, and filled with delight. Their melodious hearts were filled with love, honor, and praise for God; their voices like various instruments defying logic, perhaps like Psalm 150 portrays: clashing cymbals, pipes, tambourines, and an abundance of rhythmic drumming. Maybe as Psalm 150 suggests this is the best music to God’s ears. What can we learn and do differently?

Dear Lord, thank you for life-changing opportunities and worldly experiences of Psalm 150. Move us to pray and praise you humbly and with the boundless joy and enthusiasm of a melodious African heart. All praise to the Lord! Amen.

Written by Cris Ohr, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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