Sunday, October 16, 2011

Psalm 96:1-9 - “Preaching to the Choir”

18th Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 24) (Year A)
LWML (Lutheran Women’s Missionary League) Sunday
Sunday, October 16, 2011

• Climbing up on the shelves in the warehouse, counting how many Bible studies are still left in open boxes
• Small way I was helping the families of the world ascribe glory to the Lord

• Dollar bills in a mite box
• Small way that you are able to help the families of the world ascribe glory to the Lord
• Because of those dollars add up to a lot of money used to support mission projects in districts across North America, including Northern Illinois, and around the world
• With a goal of raising $1.8 million for grants to places like Haiti, Dominican Republic, Kansas, and Detroit
• In our district, LWML supports places like Voice of Hope prison ministry and Voice of Care developmentally-disabled ministry

• But what is the LWML setting out to do? What is any mission society aiming to do? What are we at Bethel trying to do?
• We’re inviting the families of the world to sing the new song of Psalm 96 with us.

• Psalm 96, I suppose, could just sound like another hymn, a hymn to the Lord—

• Sing to the LORD
sing to the LORD,
Sing to the LORD, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory
• They’re words of praise calling on us to honor the Lord

• But notice something else about those first lines
• Notice how it’s addressed to the nations, to all people,
• It’s a mission psalm

1 Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth. NOT JUST ISRAEL
2 Sing to the LORD, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

4 For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
6 Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
7 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;

• It’s what one author calls a psalm of “new orientation” (Brueggemann)
• It’s a psalm that calls the hearer to have a new orientation to the world, a new way of looking at the world, a changed perspective
• The psalm’s calling on the hearers to turn and ascribe glory to the Lord, only to the Lord

• In your bulletins, you have a logo I made for Psalm 96

• When I hear the later verses from today’s reading, the verses about ascribing glory and strength to His Name, this is what came to mind
• The LORD’s Name, God the Father’s personal Name is Yahweh in Hebrew,
• To His Name we ascribe, we give to His Name, we grant to His Name—glory and strength.
• Glory—His Name is above all else
• Strength—His Name is far stronger than anything else
• In His Name, there is glory and strength

• What’s His glory? What’s His strength? Where do we see this most clearly?
• In Jesus Christ—His cross and resurrection
• The cross is His glory—the mercy, grace, and forgiveness He won for us
• The cross is His strength—going to death for us
• The resurrection is His glory—conquering death
• The resurrection is His strength—mighty to save us
• The LWML, other mission societies, our mission as a congregation, our calling as individual Christians, it’s to invite others to ascribe glory and strength to the Name of Yahweh, to the Name of Jesus Christ

• But that calls for reenvisioning the world, reenvisioning the people around us (Robert Foster), because we can’t just think of them as enemies
• Psalm 96 invites us to see the families of the world as potential choir members who will sing praise to Yahweh
• Psalm 96 is preaching to the choir—but that choir’s not just the insiders anymore

• What will we do to make room for new choir members?
• Will you start making room for new people in small ways—a handshake, a smile, a warm greeting on Sunday morning?
• Will you see the need for the LWML, for mission societies, for outreach in our community?
• What will we do to give people a new song to sing, replacing their old songs of despair with a song of hope in Jesus?
• What will we do to help others ascribe glory and strength to the Lord?

• Because that’s what it means to preach to this choir—this growing choir, this growing group of followers of Christ
• calling on others to ascribe glory and strength to the Lord
• calling on others to declare that Jesus is Savior