Practicing Praise Rather than Complaint


October 11, 2017

By Bradley Bergfalk.

Scripture: Psalm 150 (NRSV)

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!

Reflection:

I must confess, I prefer to complain about my present circumstances rather than offer praise to God for the good and beautiful in my life. An imperceptible groan here, a rolling of the eyes there. How else is one supposed to deal with difficult people and undesirable circumstances?
 
Psalm 150 presents a alternative approach to complaining. This is an exuberant Psalm where the Psalmist is overflowing with gratitude and praise for God. This Psalm of worship engenders a sense of God's grandeur both in the act of worship itself and in creation. When everything is said and done, the least and last that can be said by a grateful people of God is “Praise the Lord.”
 
The road map to praise begins in the sanctuary-- the sacred space where we regularly gather to sing, pray, and respond to God. But that is not the only context where worship takes place. The Psalmist suggests our praise for God is also prompted by recognizing the work of God in creation. Finally, we praise God when we recognize the presence and power of God in the details of our lives. In the end, the Psalmist encourages us to praise God inside the sanctuary and wherever we find ourselves.
 
Next, the Psalmist describes the method of worship and praise. He lists a variety of instruments of praise: trumpets, lutes, harps, and cymbals. In other words, our instruments of praise can be whatever is at hand. In a historic congregational church, the instrument of choice may be the organ or piano. In a new church start-up, the instruments of praise may be guitars, drums, and keyboard. The method doesn't really matter as long the heart of the one who worships gives praise to God.
 
To give praise to God rather than complain is not to dismiss the challenging circumstances one faces. Rather, to praise to God in all circumstances is to acknowledge that no matter how challenging life becomes, there is always a reason to give thanks.

Prayer:

Open my eyes oh Lord, to recognize the reasons I have been given to give you praise rather than complaint. Amen.
 
Rev. Bradley J. Bergfalk is Pastor of First Congregational Church of Litchfield.
 

Spirited Wednesday: October 11, 2017 , by Bradley Bergfalk.