Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Sermon: Psalm 150: The W5 of Worship

The dockyard area in Belfast is becoming a place to go for a family day out. The Titanic Centre sits beside the Paint Hall where they film Game of Thrones. The Odyssey hosts concerts and ice hockey and all sorts of things. There's also an exciting science exhibition and learning centre which goes by the name of W5. But why is it called W5? Well, it's all about getting children to ask the W5 questions, made famous by Rudyard Kipling in his little ditty:

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

Now he throws how into the mix, but the W5 are who, what, where, why and when. For a few moments we're going to use the W5 as we think about Psalm 150, the very last in the collection of Psalms in the Bible.

So first up, who? We find the answer in verse 6: 'Let everything that has breath praise the Lord' Now you might be feeling a bit out of puff having sung all those songs thus far, but if you have breath in your lungs, then you are the who. The call goes out for everyone to praise the Lord. But it's more than just people. You see, the Psalm doesn't say everyone who has breath - it's everything that has breath. Every creature is called to praise, to join the chorus of praise to our God. Everything that God made is called to praise the God who made it. Who? Everyone.

What? Well, when you look at the Psalm, it's hard to miss the what, isn't it? In every sentence, on every line, the call comes to 'praise' or 'praise him'. We can even sneak in the 'how' question, as we see and hear the musical instruments joining the praise. It's as if there's a great crescendo as the instruments join in and become louder and louder - trumpet sound, lute and harp, tambourine and dance, strings and pipe, sounding cymbals, loud clashing cymbals. Who? Everyone. What? Praise the Lord.

Where? The answer comes in verse 1. 'Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.' The call comes to praise God in his sanctuary, his mighty heavens. Now that doesn't mean that we have to be in heaven to praise - everyone and everything can praise God who is in heaven wherever we are. No matter where you are, or what you're doing, you can praise God. Who? Everyone. What? Praise the Lord. Where? Everywhere.

Why? Look at verse 2. Here's why we're called to praise God. 'Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness.' Here are the two reasons to praise God. His mighty deeds - the amazing, wonderful, works of his power, to create, to save, to rescue, and to keep his people. The writer might have looked back to the Exodus from Egypt. But to the Passover and the return from Babylonian exile, we can also add the mighty deeds of the cross and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. God has worked his mighty deeds to save us - which will lead us to praise him.

But the second reason to praise is 'according to his excellent greatness.' We praise God for what he has done, but we also praise him for who he is. When we think about God's greatness, it leads us to praise. Just think of God's goodness, love, grace, mercy, justice, compassion, kindness, his all-knowing, all-seeing, almighty all-powerful strength. We've already sung of all of those things. Reflecting on God's excellent greatness leads us to praise him. Who? Everyone. What? Praise the Lord. Where? Everywhere. Why? His mighty deeds and his excellent greatness.

When? When should we praise? All the time. For all time, and for all eternity. When we have been saved by God, gathered into his people, we are turned from living for our own glory and our own good name. We are gathered to join the chorus of praise, sung by all God's people. We're called to praise now, but we'll still be praising God forever.

Who, what, where, why, when. Praise the Lord. Will you hear this call tonight? Will you praise God, not just now in your songs, but in every moment of your life? Let's pray.

This sermon was preached at the Favourite Hymns Evening in Aghavea Parish Hall on Sunday 7th June 2015.

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