A psalm. For giving grateful praise.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Faithfulness to all generations
My heart sank when I saw today’s reading. As I write, I’ve no idea if my brother is going to be able to catch his flight from New York to London to spend Christmas with the family. I am sure you are in a similar position or know someone who is – anxiously checking the travel and weather updates in the run up to Christmas day. I spoke the other day of ‘praising God when we feel like it and when we don’t‘ and I really ‘don’t feel like it’ today.
However, I do feel reading this psalm today that perspective is really important. The last two days we’ve been thinking of the ineffability of God. How insignificant are our gripes about the weather in the grand scheme of things?!
What is more amazing though, is that in coming to earth as a man, God has experienced every kind of human emotion. So much so that He does actually care about your gripes about the weather!
Think of all the generations who have celebrated Christmas for more than 2000 years. Generations before us experienced both joyful and sad Christmases – but the marking of the festival has continued. Think of those who celebrated Christmas during the war. It brings to mind the well known story of the Christmas Truce in 1914 when German and British soldiers sang carols to one another over the trenches. I found this quote from one of the soldiers:
“I wouldn’t have missed that unique and weird Christmas Day for anything. … I spotted a German officer, some sort of lieutenant I should think, and being a bit of a collector, I intimated to him that I had taken a fancy to some of his buttons. … I brought out my wire clippers and, with a few deft snips, removed a couple of his buttons and put them in my pocket. I then gave him two of mine in exchange. … The last I saw was one of my machine gunners, who was a bit of an amateur hairdresser in civil life, cutting the unnaturally long hair of a docile Boche, who was patiently kneeling on the ground whilst the automatic clippers crept up the back of his neck.” (from Wikipedia)
It really doesn’t matter if you don’t feel like praising God today. This psalm speaks to us of the faithfulness of God to all generations and echoes the song of Mary when she greets Elizabeth:
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.
– Luke 1:54-55
What we celebrate at Christmas is that God keeps His promises.
The promised Messiah is come!
He is faithful to all generations – including ours. Let’s cling on to that this Christmas.
Update on my brother: Sadly his rescheduled flight (NYC – London) was cancelled so he is unable to join us for Christmas. What is good though is that his boss agreed that he could take more time off at New Year to come over so he is now coming from 29th Dec – 3rd January. Even better is that I have been able to book free first class travel for me on the train to go down to Southend to see him on 1st Jan-3rd Jan. I have these vouchers for free rail travel from work – they aren’t normally available on bank holidays so this was a real gift from God!
God is faithful!