January 29 lesson: All Creation Praises God


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All Creation Praises God

Winter Quarter: Creation – A Divine Cycle
Unit 2: Praise from and for God’s Creation

Sunday school lesson for the week of January 29, 2017
By Helen and Rev. Sam Rogers

Lesson scripture: Psalm 148

There are many tasks given the Church, but sadly, lay people seldom list the praise of God in worship as number one. Although all the others that can be listed are important, nothing is more important than the gathering of the people to praise God! Every voice and heart lifted to shout, “HALLELUJAH!”

Psalm 148 begins and ends with this Hebrew phrase of praise – so should our worship time and our everyday life. Singing and living “Hallelujahs” is the center piece of our faith journey. In this lesson, we will seek to grasp the essence of “hallelujah” living.

Perhaps we need a brief reminder of the nature and content of the Book of Psalms. There are 150 of them, divided into five books, corresponding to the Torah, or the five books of Moses. Previously, we have described the Book of Psalms as “Songs of the Heart,” per the Disciple Bible Study. Because they express the innermost feeling of the heart, the Psalms are remarkably diverse. Psalm 148 is in the last of the Five Books, and, like all the others in Book Five, is a song of praise. After all, the word “hallelujah” means “Praise the Lord.”

With this theme set in bold face, the writer literally covers the spectrum of creation with everything praising the One, who by the spoken word, brought all into existence.

Musically, Handel did the same with the famous “Hallelujah Chorus.” There is no solo or unison version of this music. Written for a chorus, the multitude of voices are necessary to carry the sweep of the composer’s vision. If you have ever sung this glorious piece in a choir, you have experienced firsthand how important all the different voices are. Soprano, alto, tenor and bass – each has a critical role to play in making the music ring to the glory of God. Different notes, different voices, different rhythms, different entrances and exits – each combine in one magnificent whole.

So it is with Psalm 148! In the first five verses, the word “praise” (hallelu) is used nine times. The multitude of voices ranges from angels to sun and moon and stars. The science of the Psalms is not ours, but the fullness of the universe is included in this “Hallelujah Chorus.”

Here is verse 5, the key verse of the lesson: “Let them (all) praise the name of the Lord, for He commanded and they were created.” Moreover, He established them and fixed their bounds. The hardest lesson humans must learn is: there are limits. From childhood on, we discover there is pain when limits are ignored. Adam and Eve discovered the pain in the Garden, and their expulsion was the price paid.

In music the Vineville UMC Chancel Choir sang last Christmas, the text expressed this thought powerfully:
The tale of Adam is our own,
Like him we see God’s love made known;
Yet we rebel and go our way.
The bitter cost we then must pay.

The scene shifts now from the heavens to the earth. From sea to land, the call rings to continue the chorus of praise. Fire, hail, snow, frost and wind sing their parts because the Conductor has issued his command! The echo from the mountains and hills reverberate across the land. The animals, wild and domesticated, pick up the rhythm.

Finally, people add their voices to the enlarging chorus. The mighty and the common, the old and the young, men and women – all become involved. No one fails the try-outs! Not one! Everyone and everything praises the name of the Lord. His glory is above all. Yes, “Glory, glory hallelujah! Our God is marching on.” Or, in the inimitable words of Satchmo, “It’s a Wonderful World!”

The final reason for this resounding “Hallelujah Chorus” is the wonderful gift of salvation. The horn of salvation is the final gift of this Creator Father. His people are called by His name, and bear the image of the One Who created them in the first place. Yes, “Hallelujah! What a Savior!”

With praise at the center of “Hallelujah” living, a marked difference is evident in the “Hallelujah” people. We are accountable to this One who gave us life and the world in which we live.

Central to that accountability is how we, as one of God’s creations, treat the rest of God’s creations. Humanity is not given a higher authority than God when it comes to the treatment of creation. God’s purpose in all of creation was to bring life into being. If we were created in the image of God, then people and the earth are our responsibility, not an entitlement to be used and abused. Viewed from that perspective, we are co-creators with God in both life-giving and life-saving efforts.

Some powerful questions were raised by John Indermark.

  1.  Do the things we do in and to this world further or endanger creation’s life and diversity?
  2. Do we treat creation with the same respect and care with which God fashioned this marvelous world?
  3. Do we praise God for this creation with an ethic of respect and stewardship?
Let us add a question of our own: Does our “Hallelujah” worship result in “Hallelujah” living? If not, our praise may ring hollow and false. The world “will know we are Christian by our love” –for God and for one another and for the earth.

Helen and Rev. Sam Rogers are a retired clergy couple. They can be reached at sgr3@cox.net.