Praise the Lord

Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, my soul.
I will praise the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

(Psalm 146:1-2)

A few days ago a couple of friends and I got together to play music. We had been a band for a long time, and then took a break when we all started getting jobs and having families and other time consuming life events. But for one Saturday we gathered together for a couple of hours to play music. Specifically, we played praise music.

There are countless debates about what style of music best facilitates praise. Some are deeply traditional, moved by high church liturgies with hymns and choirs and organs. Some would prefer rock and roll bands and lights and screens, praise in the language of our current culture. Still others would rather sit in silence and meditate, working through ancient prayers from the early desert fathers. It is worth mentioning that these and many, many other styles of worship all all viable and worthwhile. Wherever you feel at home, that is where you should worship the Lord.

What exactly is it then that is happening when we are engaged in praising the Lord? Why is it that some of us thrust a hand skyward when the right series of chords and words hits our ears? Why is it that some of us are moved to tears listening to our choir sing on Sundays? (Incidentally, the best seat in the house in our sanctuary is where I usually sit when I preach upstairs. Our choir can and usually does blow the doors off the place!)

When we praise, what we are actually doing is engaging our heart in proclaiming who God is and what God has done for us. The Psalms light the way for us in so many ways. Psalm 146 goes on to remind us that God created the heavens and the earth, the sea and everything in them. It reminds us that God is faithful forever. It reminds us that God’s attention is on the poor and oppressed, and ours should be too. It reminds us of what God has done in our world, and what God continues to do.

So, much more importantly than which style of music (or silence) you prefer in worship, is the awareness of what God is doing in our world. Where have you seen God at work? Where can you taste and see that the Lord is good? What events both large and small have the fingerprints of the Divine on them?

Truth be told, we aren’t always the best at talking about this. We aren’t always the best at articulating how our faith and our lives intersect and interact. But when we carry this awareness, when we are able to articulate God’s goodness, worship (again, no matter the style) drips with meaning and power in new and refreshing ways. So perhaps before you join us in worship this Sunday, take a moment to write down some of the ways God has been moving in your world. Remember that God moves in the great and in the troubling, through the joy and through the pain. God is equally present in both places. Then, join us on Sunday, and together we will sing with all we have.

Praise the Lord.

Jason Freyer is the Director of High School Ministry and a Senior student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

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