SCRIPTURE READING

Psalm 111
Mark 1: 21-28

SERMON

Society is really good at making us worry. And stressed and depressed and all-over anxious.

And, of course, by society I mean all of us. Because we participate in, put up with and consume all the stressing messages that flood our heads and homes.

Psalm 111 works against all that.

The Psalmist takes you by the shoulders and shakes until you wake up sane.

Worries create gaps between how we manage our lives and some glossy ideal. And those gaps grow.

Worry becomes a hole. A sunken place. There are anxieties in the shadows. Doubt echoes somewhere in the depth.  

Alleluia! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart.

Not our worried heart here. Our whole heart. Undivided and conquered.

In the company of the upright, in the congregation.

With others, witnessed by others, the Psalmist proclaims praise. And then, step by step, verse by verse, the Psalmist fills the empty hole of worry with the things of God.

Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. Studied that we might know and trust. Delight. Because working through the things of God is good.

Full of honour and majesty is God’s work. And God’s righteousness endures forever. Righteousness is made solid by God. Enduring. It doesn’t slip through your fingers. You can hold on tightly to the goodness of God.

He has caused his works to be remembered.  God has let us remember. God lets us remember. There’s the beautiful line. Goodness and grace. God lets us remember.

Psalm 111 is one of the dozen or so alphabetical psalms in the Bible. Each of the 22 lines in the Hebrew poem begins with one of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. A word game for the writer, much in the same way that rhyming is a game. And, for the Hebrew reader, a memory aid. You count off the letters and remember the psalmist’s proclamations.

ABC -The Lord is gracious and merciful. Simple enough to sing with toddlers. Memorable to get past the messiness of worry.

The alphabet, almost as close as language itself, sets the heartbeat to this poem, the words then spell out doxology. The dictionary defines doxology as “an expression of praise to God, especially a short hymn sung as part of a worship service.” The word doxology comes from the Greek doxa, (“glory, splendor, grandeur”) and logos, (“word” or “speaking”). Most doxologies are short hymns of praise to God, often added to the end of psalms, and hymns. Psalm 111 is a Doxology - a song of praise to God!

God lets the people remember.

Take this week, to remember that God’s glory is abundant. A glory so vast that it fills the hollow spaces and brings enduring love.

Remember that where there is fear and an uncertain future, God can bring peace.

Remember that God is faithful and is at work in the world, surprising us with grace.

Remember that God created us all for doxology and the joy of remembering each other.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above, Ye heavenly host!
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
Amen

Acknowledgment K. Munnik