Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come into his presence with singing.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name.
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
This morning’s reading reminds me of the one about a grandma who was eighty-eight years old and still driving her own car. One day she decided to share one of her driving adventures by writing a quick note to her granddaughter. She wrote,
The other day I went up to our local Christian book store and saw a “Honk if you love Jesus” bumper sticker. I was feeling particularly sassy that day because I had just come from a thrilling choir performance, followed by a thunderous prayer meeting. So I bought the sticker and put it on my bumper. Boy, am I glad I did! On the way home, I was stopped at a red light at a busy intersection, just lost in thought about the Lord and how good he is, and I didn’t notice that the light had changed. It was a good thing someone else loved Jesus because if he hadn’t honked, I’d have never noticed. I found that lots of people love Jesus! While I was sitting there, the guy behind him started honking like crazy too, and then he leaned out of his window and screamed, ‘For the love of God! Go! Go! GO!” What an exuberant cheerleader he was for Jesus! Everyone started honking! I just leaned out my window and started waving and smiling at all those loving people. I even honked my horn a few times to share in the love! There must have been a man from Florida back there because I heard him yelling something about a sunny beach. I saw another guy waving in a funny way with only his middle finger stuck up in the air. I asked my young teenage grandson in the back seat what that meant. He said it was probably a Hawaiian good luck sign or something. Well, I have never met anyone from Hawaii , so I leaned out the window and gave him the good luck sign right back. My grandson burst out laughing. Why even he was enjoying this religious experience!! A couple of the people were so caught up in the joy of the moment that they got out of their cars and started walking towards me. I bet they wanted to pray or ask what church I attended, but this is when I noticed the light had changed. So, grinning, I waved at all my brothers and sisters, and drove on through the intersection. I noticed that I was the only car that got through the intersection before the light changed again and felt kind of sad that I had to leave them after all the love we had shared. So, I slowed the car down, leaned out the window and gave them all the Hawaiian good luck sign one last time as I drove away. Praise the Lord for such wonderful folks!! Will write again soon,
Ya gotta love grandmas! Even when they’re not quite with it, their hearts are invariably in the right place. They just wanna love us. And the real good ones just wanna love God! That poor, unaware grandma just wanted to share the love of God and encourage her traveling companions to praise God. That’s because we all have much to give God thanks for. Our beautiful church building enables us to gather in person and be in his presence week in and week out. Our technology enables our shut-ins and Covid-cautious to join us from afar in worship and praise. It also helps us continue our educational responsibilities towards confirmation classes and Bible studies, not to mention our organizational responsibilities towards committee meetings…especially our annual meeting being held after service today that you’re all invited to attend! (I know, shameless plug!) Who knew that technology would be so essential in keeping our ministry alive over the last year?! Speaking of which, we have much to be thankful for in helping us survive a global pandemic. Few people could have predicted a virus would completely uproot our lives, from closing our schools down to closing our jobs down or to closing our churches down. Really?! How often do you think the Church has closed its doors in the last 2,000 years?! ONCE, in 1918 during the Spanish flu! Of course, not all churches closed but a lot of them did or were forced to adapt technologically. Friends, what we just went through and survived was…historical to say the least. I know, I know, “we’re not out of it yet,” but things are certainly looking a lot brighter after a year of such darkness. We can thank science and the amazing work of those who helped create the vaccine. Oh, and GOD for giving us the materials needed to create the vaccine!
God is so generous in all that He provides! God provides good health for so many of us. He provides strong minds and strong bodies to carry us through this world. He provides good work to challenge our minds and bodies and good rest to replenish our minds and bodies. He provides us with good relationships as a sturdy support network in this world. He provides us with opportunities to learn and grow, to nurture and protect. He provides us with this big, beautiful world to explore and use all its many resources. God gives and gives and gives! He is a good and generous God!
It’s no wonder that so many of the psalms are considered praise psalms like the one we’re reflecting on this morning. We have much to be thankful for. Our God more than deserves our thanks and praise for all his many blessings. His blessings never cease to end. Now there are times when we find it difficult to perceive his blessings in our lives. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t there, just dig a little bit deeper. Some blessings are in disguise. Some seem trivial or inconsequential but, when added to other blessings, turn out to be pretty amazing. God loves us and wants us to thrive in this world. He wants us to know joy in this world and his unending supply of blessings help ensure that joy. Our God is a good and loving and generous God!
Praise psalms like the one for this morning help direct our thoughts on all that we have to be thankful for. They’re like those “honk if you love Jesus” bumper stickers. Right in the middle of Psalm 100, we cry out, “Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his. We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” It is good to be made by him and to be his people. He loves and nurtures and protects all that is his. We sing out in the psalm, “For the Lord is good, his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” God is good and it is good to be his creation. And it is good to praise him for all that He provides us. The prophet Isaiah understood this all too well when he wrote, “O Lord, you are my God; I will extol you, I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.” (25:1) God is good and it is good to praise him. Let us use Psalm 100 as a template for praising him. Thanks be to God!
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.