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!
Luke 8:22-25 Jesus Calms a Storm (NRSV)
One day Jesus got into a boat with his disciples and he said to them, “let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they put out, and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A windstorm swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up shouting, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?”
“Praise the Lord!” Psalm 150 is a communal doxology of praise extoling the greatness of God. The psalmist encourages his faith community to lavishly praise God’s greatness not only with heart and voice but with instruments of praise –trumpets, harps, and loud clanging cymbals. This psalm reminds us that joyful worship of God is a central spiritual discipline of the Christian community.
However, as our text from Luke informs us, our exuberant praise of God can be severely tested when life’s unpredictable gale force winds blow harshly against us – Covid-19, serious illness, an impending death, family heartbreak, daunting economic hardships, etc. When these threatening winds blow, like the disciples we are prone to question the loving presence of God and in panic cry out, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” (v.24) But Jesus demonstrates God’s calming, saving power by rebuking the raging winds and waves and restoring calm.
As a Christian community we are called to be God’s/Christ’s visible and audible calming voice and presence for those whose faith is challenged by life’s storms. Through loving acts of compassion and presence such as visits (post pandemic), calls, cards, assistance, or prayers, we can remind those “perishing” of God’s abounding steadfast love God and that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble…” (ps.46:1) May we strive to besuch instruments of compassion so that all God’s people can with joy faithfully gather together to boldly ”Praise the Lord!”
God of Life, it is good to offer songs of praise to You, not only in calm situations but also when the storms of life can test our faith. In times of turbulence, may we as a caring Christian community reach out to others with both compassion and care that all your children might indeed sense your abiding, calming presence and join our voices to “Praise the Lord!” Amen.