Monday, October 5, 2015

Psalm 31 and the Wonders of God's Love

The thing about the psalter is that while there are historical nuances we should consider, it's largely a universal hymnal for all of us to sing the words as if they are our own because in fact they are.

When we come to Psalm 31 and we see the enemy advancing, in Columbia, SC in October of 2015, we know that this enemy is the rising water.  Many have suffered and many continue to wait for deliverance.  This is the theme of so many of the psalms.

This is why we continue to sing, to pray, to read these psalms.  We memorize them for their universal quality.  The backwater, nomadic shepherd (possibly?) sang these words 3,000 years ago about a completely different situation; the enemy that advanced many have been something different and difficult to understand from our vantage point, but we know what it's like to be in a desperate situation or perhaps to see the precarious nature of our neighbor and the little, if anything, we can do.

When we sing of the goodness of the Lord performed in the sight of all (verse 19) we can't help but think of all of the good things that come out of natural disasters like floods.  Still, I get chills thinking about a choir member's husband who was rescued from what we were all wondering might be the end for him in a truck that could have been washed away in the flood.  Because of people in our own congregation, friends and neighbors and Facebook, the word got out and he was rescued.

And today, when we're tempted to think that the worst is behind us, neighborhoods are told to evacuate to the local shelter.  I am not sure what the psalmist had in mind when he sang it in the beginning, but when we think of verse 3, "Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe, for you are my crag and my stronghold;" we have a completely different feeling about the psalm than we might have on a regular Sunday morning.

Verse 21:
Blessed be the Lord!
for he has shown me the wonders of his love in a besieged city.

Our city has been besieged by flood waters.  Our hearts are heavy and we hold our breath for what is next.  The recovery will not be easy.  When the enemy waters encompass us round about, I am reminded of another psalm, "but in the name of the Lord, I will repel them!" (118).

Take comfort, what small bit you may be able to, in the work of God so evident in our neighbors and friends.  Take comfort in those whose needs are being met and pray for those whose needs haven't yet been met. And finally, remember the charge of psalm 31:

Be strong and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Psalm 85

Click here to read this Sunday's psalm.

In Advent, we get these lessons that often confound us because of our wanting knowledge of the Old Testament.  Perhaps other weeks in the year we can brush past that reading in our worship and hope to catch up either with the epistle lesson or with the Gospel.  In Psalm 85, we see a continuing story in this part of the psalter.  It is a national song, a national lament.

It's difficult for us to think this way in America in 2014.  The only national song that we have is pluralism.  Having been relegated to those of varying levels of talent and sensitivity, our national anthem has even been co-opted as a pre-show song before major events.  Nevertheless, we are a people of differing beliefs and values.  The idea of a people singing a song together doesn't resonate (pardon the pun) with us today.  Even in church, the old model of a church being made up of the same people for generations has gone away.  Today, we are likely to see in our average Lutheran church people from all denominations and backgrounds.  What were once "Lutheran" hymns known by all have to be taught sensitively.

Like most psalms, there is a banner of praise or lament and in some places both.  And, like most psalms, there is a story.  Psalm 80 and 85 are both telling a story of a people, the people of Israel. 

LORD, you were favorable to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people
you pardoned all their sin.

The psalm begins with the recounting of what the Lord has done.  Going on, that which isn't found in our lectionary psalm this week:

You withdrew your wrath;
you turned from your hot anger.
Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
and put away your indignation toward us.

Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
Will you not revive us again,
so that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your steadfast love, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.

The psalmist is asking real questions on behalf of the people.  Notice that.  Pray over that.  What are the real questions that you ask of God?  What are some things that you feel are off limits?  The psalmist shows us the range of emotions in our relationship with God as a people.  How long? is a very important question in the life of a faith community and the psalmist asks it with a sense of urgency and knowing.  Then, he tells the Lord to "show us your steadfast love" and "grant us your salvation." 

After this part of the psalm, which is omitted in our lectionary readings, the psalmist turns the mood.  Looking at the whole of the psalm, what he says here makes more sense:

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
    for he will speak peace to his people,
    to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.
Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him,
    that his glory may dwell in our land.

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
    righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
    and righteousness will look down from the sky.
The Lord will give what is good,
    and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him,
    and will make a path for his steps.
To comment too much would be missing the point.  The imagery speaks for itself.  Perhaps what stands out to you is the same phrase that stands out to me, "righteousness and peace will kiss each other."  What a delightful thought!  The salvation of God can only be described in poetry.  Sure, we believe that St. Paul does a pretty good job describing what salvation of God's people looks like but even at his best, it's poetic.  It confirms a thought that I have been having for years now and while probably cliché it remains that God is in the poetry
What's in a kiss?  We've heard that question before.  A good kiss is gentle and preferring of the other.  It is not a collision of ideas or personal desires but rather a sweet acquiescence to the other.  Righteousness and Peace are giving themselves to each other willingly and softly.  Not only that, but the psalmist sings that faithfulness springing up from the ground and righteousness looking over us is surrounding us on every side.  The Lord will give what is good.  What is good is all around us in the salvation of our God. 
As we continue our Advent pilgrimage, though some may be tempted to ignore while others may be tempted to make it a dour journey, I encourage us to see the beauty of Psalm 85 in our traveling through this season.  We are waiting and we are moving.  Psalm 85 is that beautiful landscape that is in reality all around us, springing up from the ground and looking down from the sky.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Psalm 95: The Lord Is King

"Come let us sing to the LORD,
let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving
and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.
For the LORD is our God
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the caverns of the earth,
and the heights of the hills are his also;
the sea is his for he made it
and his hands have molded the dry land.
Come, let us bow down and bend the knee
and kneel before the LORD our maker,
for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture
and the sheep of his hand."

Psalm 95:1:7

This Sunday is Christ the King Sunday.  This psalm isn't used every year for this feast day, but this year it is and we are reminded once again to come and sing to the Lord, the King.

From very early on, Christians have greeted the day with this psalm.  It was St. Athanasius who instructed the faithful followers in this practice and ever since it has been a part of our Morning Prayer liturgy.  The Orthodox church chants this psalm as a part of their Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.  Contextually, we find it in a chunk of psalms that are very high hymns of praise and acclamation and over and again in these psalms, the psalmist invites us into the singing.

A quick scan of the psalm leads the reader to see why a psalm like this may be used on Christ the King Sunday: For the LORD is our God and a great King above all gods.

I have been writing recently on what it means to be penitential -- that is, to recognize our utter need for God.  I believe that this psalm fits very nicely into this theme.  While it wouldn't be labeled as a "penitential psalm" it does put God and our relationship to/with him in perspective.

As is the custom of the psalmist, he paints a picture of what God has done.

In his hand are the caverns of the earth,
and the heights of the hills are his also;
the sea is his for he made it 
and his hands have molded the dry land.

As the people of God, we believe that God made the earth; that he created all that we see and we ourselves have been formed by him.  In the busyness of this culture, perhaps we need to discipline ourselves more to think about God in this way; but, nevertheless, we can agree that it's a foundation of faith to believe that we are here because God created life.  We also believe that God created humans in his image, thus giving humans dignity and the ability to think and celebrate the good creation.

What is the psalmist's response to these ponderings?

Come, let us bow down and bend the knee
and kneel before the LORD our maker,
for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture
and the sheep of his hand.

The psalmist reminds those of us who sing the psalm of who we are in the mix.  We have a real "out of sight, out of mind" challenge in our faith.  We don't see God and we don't look for God, though God is all around us and makes himself known to us in myriad ways.  The funny thing about seeing God, particularly in the way that the psalmist proclaims - through creation, is that the more that you look for God, the more you find God.  If I take the time to look at creation around me and to consider the work of God in the world, I may not come to it easily, but I will begin to see God.

This can also be said of our worshiping community.  God never promised to make sense.  We see this clearly in the person of Jesus.  Jesus is a peasant who was brought up in a back-water town in the ancient middle east.  He develops a clan that dwindles in his short tenure of ministry.  The dwindling of his followers comes to a climax at his own embarrassing and brutal death.  The teacher that proclaimed that the "last shall be first and the first shall be last" is inaugurated as King of the World and Lord of the Universe through this embarrassing Roman tradition of crucifixion and it is in the event of the third day - the resurrection - in which death and life of all humanity and all time are changed forever.  Our worshiping community gathers in the name of this very Jesus every week.

Most people that you see in church look the same.  However, the work of God through these ordinary people is profound.  It is profound on levels that need not be explained in this blog, but the poor are being fed, the friendless are being comforted, those who are empty in spirit are being filled, the last are first and the first are last.  Our wisdom is being confounded by the Lord of this world each day; when we think we have it figured out, paradox strikes again.  The psalmist sees God in creation, as should we, but what is his response when he sees God?

Come, let us bow down.

The response is one of penitence -- recognizing his need for God.  Bowing down is a sign of surrender.  As faithful followers of Jesus, the Lord of this world, we are going to be confused by the "common sense of the kingdom" which is not consistent with the common sense of the world.  Such common sense as utters phrases like: sell all you have and give it to the poor, you must hate your life in order to save it, and deny yourself and take up your cross.  In light of the confusion, our response is one of faith:

Come, let us bow down.

If Jesus, through his death and resurrection, is calling us to the same kind of life, to die and to rise for the life of the world, how does this affect our daily living?  Being reminded that we are to come and to see God in creation, and new creation, we are partners with God in his new creation through Jesus. This dying and rising for the life of the world is just that -- being partners with God in this new creation.  We are called in this way through our baptism.  We are sustained as a people of God through the body and blood of his Son in the eucharist.  Together, each week we proclaim the mystery of this new creation in our gathering around Word and Sacrament.

Come, let us bow down.

If Christ is King and we are to come and bow down, then nothing about life can be the same.  Where does this begin?

Come, let us bow down.

It begins in the waters and is sustained by the bread and wine.  It is sustained by our faithfulness and obedience which is itself a gift of God's grace.

Come, let us bow down.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Psalm 42:1

"As the deer longs for the water-brooks,
so my soul longs for you, O God."

This past week, the choir at the church I serve sang a setting of this psalm.  It wasn't consistent with the lectionary, but it carried the same plea of the lectionary psalm (Psalm 70).

These kinds of psalms are reorienting my thinking of what it means to be penitential.  A pastor colleague shared with me that he was visiting a family in the hospital and while nothing seemed to be going right for this family, his prayer was something like, "God, we get it.  Do something."

These kinds of prayers seem disrespectful, until we read the psalms over and over again and realize that the psalmist's cry was the same.  "God, I need you."  Like the water that makes up nearly 75% of our bodies, we need you, O God.

What does it mean to be penitential?  Does it mean counting your sins and feeling appropriately guilty for them?  Does it mean gritting your teeth and affecting an emotion of sadness and remorse?  Maybe some of these things will come with being penitential, but I think that ultimately penitence is a deep understanding of our need for God. 

There's a word that is probably more familiar that penitence or penitential - repent.  To repent is to realize our deep insecurity, our sin, and to turn to God.  This is recognizing our need for God. 

Recognizing our need for God comes with practice.  Sometimes, for our own sake, we need to fake this.  Trying praying the Jesus prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner," every day in some way or another and repeat it over and over again.  Make this a discipline.  Make it a "go-to" prayer.  This prayer will begin to shape your perception of yourself and your relationship with God.  We fool ourselves if we think we don't need God.  We fool ourselves if we think that we are without sin or insecurity. 

We begin to realize that we must decrease, become less, and pray that God will help us not to make ourselves, our time, our interests the center of the universe.  Longing for God comes with practice.

Speaking of water, I have been on a kick over the last year and it's one that I hope sticks.  I have been trying to drink the amount of water that my body needs, which is about 75 to 100 ounces (which can come through our food as well as in a bottle).  At first, I resisted, wanting something with "taste."  But, the more that I drank and stuck with it, the more I felt the need for it.  I would realize with acute awareness if I hadn't had any water to drink.

So much of our physical and spiritual lives is just nuts and bolts discipline.  God gives us the grace we need to get out of the way of our need for him.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Psalm 90: Autumn Leaves are Falling

Please click HERE to read Psalm 90:1-12

I love autumn.  I love spring.  Winter I get tired of quickly and the heat and humidity can be too much for me in the summer, here in Columbia, SC.  The church that I serve is in a community called "Forest Acres" and for the first year or two that we lived here, I just took main roads to get to church from our home.  Over the last year, however, I have been going through the communities that make up Forest Acres.  This area is just what its name states.  Trees are abundant and in the spring and fall, the colors are vibrant and rich.

Over the last week, there have been a few trees that I have looked at on the rides to and from work (the church).  I have seen green, to yellow, to bright fiery yellow until today when the yellow turns a burnt orange color.  As beautiful as it is, these are the last signs of color and life before the trees are rid of their leaves for the winter months.  Knowing each day that the next day may bring fewer leaves and turning colors, I was saddened today to see that the end is indeed near.

I wrote about Psalm 90 this past February and I was tempted to just submit a "reblog" and be done with it, but I believe that these verses take on another meaning in the fall, particularly in the late fall when leaves are falling, night approaches more quickly and our hearts long for light and warmth.

In these falling leaves we look around and see that our world is changing and is making its annual pilgrimage to the darker months.  In the northern hemisphere, the air is crisper and the night is darker.

In these falling leaves we see the brilliance of color and the dying of beauty.  All things must end.

In these falling leaves we are reminded of the acute brevity of life and often that which we take for granted.

Our rituals are changing.  Perhaps some of us are transitioning from white wines to red.  Maybe you've turned your heat on for the first time on these brisk nights; perhaps you've added that extra blanket.  You come in earlier in the evening.  Or, if you're like me, you want to go to bed at an unreasonably early hour.  We're going from cool and crisp meals to warm and hearty soups.

This is a journey we take each year, but by doing so, we are reminded that life is a series of change and ultimately like the falling leaves, we too will see our end.  We hope that the end is in a period of fiery and captivating, God-given beauty like we see in the trees around us.  But, life is not always so gracious.

Psalm 90, though some scholars term it a lament, is a psalm of hope and promise.  In the falling leaves of the psalm, the psalmist sings of the fleeting nature of life and the certain hope of God as refuge.  While we are daily dying and though some of us may be in the spring or summer of our lives, many we love are in the autumn of our short lives.  There is a promise that holds us all together and that is the sure and certain hope that God is indeed our refuge.  God is our dwelling place, holding us all together; those green leaves full of life and those changing colors to those falling leaves.

Before anything was, God is.  It is God who binds us together from one generation to another.  In Jewish wisdom literature, the preacher talks about the brevity of life and counters it with the necessity of eating and drinking and enjoying all the days that God gives us.  In psalm 90, the impermanence of life is countered by a request to God to "teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom."  Jesus says in St. John's gospel that he came not only to give life but to give it abundantly.  Therefore, God calls us to make the most of the time that we have.  Understanding this on a regular basis can come only by the grace of God.

We see in psalm 90 an "ultimate" of wisdom that the psalms can teach us.  It looks at the reality that life is short and not always gracious.  It identifies the unfairness of our days being filled with toil and trouble and just about the time that we're getting used to it, it's over.  Psalm 90 is exactly why the faithful people of God should spend more time with the psalms  --- these are all thoughts that we've had.  We aren't equipped to deal with the reality of life being short and especially of the reality of sudden death.  Somehow, we gain comfort (maybe not today or tomorrow, but at some point) in the fact that God is the common denominator.  From one generation to another, it is God who ties all of this together.  In life, struggle, toil, trouble and ultimately death, it is God's grace that breaks the fall of the descending leaf.  And then, it is God's grace, that though a leaf must fall to the ground every autumn and die, a new bud will break forth as a sign of new life and resurrection.

All of the world shows forth your creation.  All of the world shows forth life and death and resurrection.  May we be faithful in the days you give us.  Comfort us in ways that we need to be comforted and strengthen us in this brief life for the work of your kingdom.  And, when the leaves must fall, by your grace, help us to be received into your loving arms.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Psalm 70: Do We Need God?

Be pleased, O God, to deliver me.
    O Lord, make haste to help me!
Let those be put to shame and confusion
    who seek my life.
Let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
    who desire to hurt me.
Let those who say, “Aha, Aha!”
    turn back because of their shame.
Let all who seek you
    rejoice and be glad in you.
Let those who love your salvation
    say evermore, “God is great!”
But I am poor and needy;
    hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
    O Lord, do not delay!

Psalm 70

As we look toward Sunday, we see that our psalm is psalm 70.  When I read this, personally, I am drawn to the last few verses.  Last week was Reformation Sunday/Day (10/31) and this past Sunday was All Saints' Sunday.  Because Reformation is the day that we generally remember Martin Luther's legendary "nailing of the 95 Theses" to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg in 1517, I felt it appropriate to read these 95 Theses.

Without doing an exposition on the 95 Theses, I am struck by how many times Luther refers to the need to be penitent.  Being penitent is more that remembering our sins and wishing to repent.  Being penitent is more than thinking of ourselves as poor and lowly (which, by the way, if we begin to think of ourselves as "lowly" our lowliness vanishes very quickly).  Being penitent, more than anything, is having a deep, ongoing understanding of our need for God.

As I read Psalm 70 this morning, I can't help but think of how we just don't need God today in American Christianity.  For some, the government is savior.  For others, some vague understanding of self-reliance is key.  There is light for darkness, warmth for cold, and knowledge can be gained more easily than ever.  Little stands in the way of us getting exactly what we want in our culture.  If I want a career that makes money, there are steps that I can take, but I must be committed to those steps.  If I want coffee with a certain flavor, there are abundant places to get said coffee.  I don't have to worry about what I eat at night; more often, I worry about what to have that's not repeating what I already had that day or that week.

In a "treat yourself" world, of which I partake far too often, feasting is replaced with gorging, joy is replaced with mania, comfort is replaced with hoarding, faith is replaced with security.

I wrote yesterday on Facebook about how I wish that it wasn't such a dilemma for Christians to vote.  People say to vote your conscience, but what if your conscience isn't on the ballot?  If the Lord executes righteousness and judgement and we are agents of these, how do we vote accordingly if greed and self-promotion serve as cornerstones of a platform?

The same is the case with this psalm.  How do I write about God calling us to a life of poverty and thus blessing it through Jesus ("Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven") when everything in our culture, in our social and political catechesis stands in sharp contrast?  But, nevertheless, God calls us to be poor, to be penitent, and to deny ourselves.  God calls us not to be self-empowered, but to be empowered by the Spirit.  God calls us to deny things and to need him.  God calls us to deny security and embrace uncertainty, through faith.

When the world says more, we say, "But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God."  If we are followers of this God, through Jesus and with the help of the Holy Spirit, we have to reorient what is so ingrained in our thinking -- to become poor, to recognize our need for God alone.  This is a little easier when we do this together.  None of us are needy in a vacuum.  God is calling all of us to need him, together.  And, over and over in scripture, this is confirmed and the proud American imagination is scattered and dashed down (to borrow from Mary's Magnificat in Luke 1:46ff).

Because we always read scripture for and against other scripture, this kind of need for God is so clearly confirmed in the words of Jesus in the beatitudes (Matt. 5) and in a verse from Isaiah 66 that I wish to conclude our ruminations on the subject:

Thus says the Lord:
Heaven is my throne
    and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me,
    and what is my resting place?
All these things my hand has made,
    and so all these things are mine,
says the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look,
    to the humble and contrite in spirit,
    who trembles at my word.

Dorothy Day wished to be remembered as one who stood in solidarity with the poor; denying security and making herself poor that she could serve others.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Lord Is Coming to Judge

Psalm 96

As we get ready for Sunday's texts, we notice that we have this lofty hymn of praise for the psalm.  This psalm is prescribed every Christmas Eve (though, can be substituted with 97 or 98) and we see it a few times in our lectionary throughout the three years.

Rather than give a verse by verse, "Wow! Isn't that cool!" look at it, I thought I would lift up something that can be a stumbling block for folks who sing the psalms each week.  But, before we get there, we notice the command in the first verse, "Sing to the LORD a new song."  I choose to think that this is a command based on the language of the psalter everywhere else.  This isn't simply a suggestion or an encouragement, rather it is a "how could you not?" command that affirms the works of the Lord in creation and salvation of his people.

It's too easy for us to come up with excuses not to worship or to participate in worship.  For Lutherans we understand scripture through the lenses of Law and Gospel.  Gospel being good news that we want to hear, that we like to hear.  Too often we are comforted by the Gospel without the challenge of the Law.  While I wouldn't say that this psalm is naturally a "Law" psalm, as it were, I would say that the command to worship, to sing to the Lord a new song, is affirmed by the telling of God's deeds of creation and salvation.  To go a step further, I believe that is our responsibility, or calling (Law and Gospel) to recount these deeds every time we gather together.  The active recounting of these events comes each week in our worship, both in Word and Sacrament.  It is in the reading of scripture for the whole people that we hear the works of the Lord.  It is in the lifting up of the sacrament and our receiving of it that Christ's cross and resurrection are recounted.  Therefore, as we gather each week, weathered by the challenges and chances of life, we are a new people, being reborn each day in the gift of our baptismal covenant coming together as a body of confused human beings setting forth a "new song" through the proclamation of the deeds of our God.  Sing to the Lord a new song?  How could we not?

To address something that tends to trip up folks (including myself) when singing or reading these psalms, I wish to write for a brief moment about the idea of judgment.  This fall, I have taken on a challenge that I won't soon forget.  I have challenged myself to a "scripture surge" (my term).  I wanted to get a perspective of the whole of scripture.  I wanted to understand the Law in light of Jesus without it being close to a year between the reading of the two.  Therefore, I decided to read or listen to 10-15 chapters a day, surging through the scriptures.  I can hear it now, "Gee, I wish I had that kind of time."  It's not about time, I have learned, it's about priority. I have no more or less time that anyone else.  Are there days that I haven't read?  Sure.  But, my goal was to get a picture of the shape of the Bible.  Do I understand everything that I am reading?  No.  Often, I get impatient with a section a take a few days off.  But, this makes for good conversations about how people understand scripture.  Also, I get to see how others interpret a book or the Bible as a whole by reading commentaries to bridge the gaps of my ignorance.

Like worship, every time we approach the Bible, we are different people coming up with different observations.  This go-round, I have noticed that the idea of judgment is not nearly as dark as I have always perceived it.  Even in the psalms, we always hear of judgment as a part of a celebration of what God is doing.  The people of Israel looked to God as judge because they needed someone to make a terribly wrong situation (Egypt, wilderness, battles, exile, return) right.  This is what judgment is: putting things right.  Liberal sensibility is inclined to interpret judgment as all people being treated equally.  Rather, judgment (as N. T. Wright would put it) is all people being treated appropriately.  In this light, we see that all things can be made right.

It seems that God is celebrated as judge often in the same passages that he is celebrated as creator.  Who better to evaluate than the one who creates?  We bristle at the thought of judgment because we ourselves are not capable.  How can we who haven't created, we who haven't given life and who haven't sustained cast any judgment on others?   I think that this is what Jesus meant in the oft quoted passage from Matthew 7, "Judge not, lest you too be judged."  We read the first two words as a command, what is being said however, "Judge if you will, but know that by your own system of evaluation will you be evaluated."  In other words, leave the judgment up to God.

This is probably one of the most freeing realities of the Christian.  Judgment is not necessarily "punishment" is making all things right.  It is through Jesus that God has done this work.  God judges the world through Jesus, through his life-giving death and resurrection.  It is why we pray every Good Friday, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, we pray you to set your passion, cross, and death between your judgment and
our souls, now and in the hour of our death."  Therefore, judgment is something to be celebrated and justice is something to work toward (but that's another entry for another time).

Our ongoing lesson?  Jesus stands at the center both of the new and renewing song and at the judgment of the world.  Celebrate this today.  Celebrate it every day.  The salvation of the world, of the cosmos has Jesus at the center of it.  Let's get ourselves out of the way and sing that new song to the Lord!