Preaching The Lectionary Psalms for Cycles A, B, C
(See Proper 26/Pentecost 24/Ordinary Time 31, Cycle B, for an alternative approach.)
It is the words, "whose hope is in the Lord their God" (v. 5), that draws this psalm into use during Advent. The theme of hope permeates not only the Advent season, but also the entirety of the gospel message. In Paul's famous trilogy of what is greatest, hope is mentioned alongside faith and love. And while love is the most important in the apostle's mind, hope may be the most difficult to achieve.
There’s an old saying, “Watch what you pray for, you might get it.” A cautionary tale.
I always worry about giving people a rosy picture, a way to solve their problems. Having grown up with sit-coms, indoctrinated with the attitude that every problem could be fixed in a half hour (with commercials), except for the complicated ones (those took an hour), you’d think I’d expect happy endings and easy fixes. But somewhere along the line I was taught or osmosed a different attitude.
It is a dark, damp, raining Wednesday night in a certain pastor’s church study. Gathered with the pastor are four men in their late fifties. They have their Bibles open. Their eyelids are barely cracked open. A couple of the men were wise enough to stop by a gas station to get a cup of black coffee to stay awake. This is the latest effort in this small town congregation that worships less than ninety people.
One thing which perhaps separates humans from other animals, is our sense of justice. According to the documentaries I see on television, other animals seem to be driven by basic needs such as hunger, survival and sex. Their lives are centred around satisfying those needs, and even though some animals display considerable domestic organisation and affection for others of the species, they're still driven by their basic primitive urges.
We could also say that humans are driven by similar urges, but our lives are very
Psalm 104 begins and ends with a unique call to praise. Instead of calling on others to praise the Lord, the psalmist instructs himself: "Bless the Lord, O my soul." This psalm and Psalm 103 are the only places in the Bible where this particular expression occurs. What are we to make of this unusual phrase?