“Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it!” (Ps. 98:7)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. What do these two things have in common? A child tugging at his mother’s sweater, each time saying louder, “Mama!” and the prophets of Baal limping around their altar and cutting themselves (1 Ki. 18:26)?
Both are examples of times when our sinful flesh assumes that the authority—ultimately God—must not hear them. They make a noise; they heap up empty phrases [Matt. 6:7] in an effort to get God to listen to them. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, right?
But Psalm 98 says we have it all wrong, if that’s how we’ve thought about God the Lord. Worship is not about trying to get God’s attention. That is actually a feature of pagan, man made gods. Rather, the True God acts first upon us, and we respond in loud shouts of praise! While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us [Rom. 5:8]. He’s told us that His righteousness and our salvation have been since the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34, Ephesians 1:4-5).
So, if God accomplished His work of saving us before any of us were even born, what should make us think that we need to shout into His ears to get His attention now? To put it another way, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) He comes to deliver His salvation in Christ and His fatherly care. That means for us that His hearing our prayers, accepting our worship, and blessing our days is based on something more sure than our heart-felt effort. It’s anchored in His promises spoken to us and His Holy Spirit, who gives and sustains our faith.
Since God is the One who has done such great things, then our response of praise is that much sweeter. Together, we sing the new song of the psalms in the Introit and Gradual. We are freed to sing hymns which proclaim His mighty works: “This is the feast of victory for our God.” We joyfully sing spiritual songs which meditate on what our God has done. With the aftertaste of Christ’s true Body and Blood on our tongues, our hearts ring out, “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace.”
Our own religious ideas can never bring such peace, but Christ can and does. As you prepare to go to the Divine Service, take a cue from creation: He has not only formed you in your mother’s womb, but He has also redeemed and promised you eternal life. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns! Let men their songs employ, While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat, repeat the sounding joy. Amen. (LSB 387:2)
-Pastor Michael A. Miller is Pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lebanon, OR.,
Audio Reflections Speaker: Patrick Sturdivant, Development and Marketing Executive at Higher Things.
Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.