“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host!
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted;
his glory is above earth and heaven.”
As we read this Psalm, I’m imagining our voices joining with generations before us, all creation, and the cloud of witnesses, who have and continue to sing songs of praise. I can hear a large chorus with different parts coming in and out of focus. Maybe it sounds like a round, maybe there’s beautiful harmony, maybe some of the parts are really loud and full of energy, maybe others are singing quietly, reverently.
I imagine it sounds like something between a cacophony of noises and a harmonious symphony. When I imagine the songs of praises this way, I’m encouraged. I think it would be difficult, if not impossible, to keep the song of praise going just by myself, especially when I don’t always feel like praising God. Sometimes, I’d rather sing a song than a lament. Or not sing at all, and hold space for silence. I’m continuing to learn that praising God is not mutually exclusive, meaning it doesn’t have to be the only song I’m singing. We can: Praise and grieve. Praise and lament. Praise and ponder. And in this season of advent, may we continue to praise and wait.
I experience many emotions throughout the Advent season: anticipation, inspiration, content, curiosity, joy, and awe. Growing up one of my fondest memories of this season was the variety of music. The proclamation that rings out when “Hark! The herald angels sing” is sung in a chorus of harmonious voices, with the piano, strings, and trumpets all playing along, bringing me back to a joyful memory that I can only feel in my body. I can feel it out to my fingertips and up through my center, the feeling of inspiration that something wonderful has happened. The music fills me down to my toes as I reach deep down into my diaphragm for a full breath to proclaim through song, “peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!”
9 Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your dwelling-place, 10 no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 12 On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.
14 Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. 15 When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honour them. 16 With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation.
If you camp a lot, then you know tent placement is incredibly important. A slope can cause the blood to rush to your head. A hill will send pools of water into your tent during a rainstorm. Dead branches above might come crashing down on you in a windstorm. Boulders uphill might let loose during the night. Your body is only as safe as your dwelling-place.
Many sleep in tents across our country tonight who are not in safe dwelling-places. They are temporarily homeless or have chosen this tent as their home. They are not safe. There is a scourge that comes near. This scourge is wealth inequity, the opportunity gap, racism, unjust housing policies, and our inability to address the mental health crisis. Yet, even to these, God promises to “be with them in trouble”, “to rescue and honor them”, and to “satisfy them”.
Oh, Lord. Send your angels to those with danger just outside their tents. Bear them up, and may we together tread on the lion and the adder of injustice that threatens them.