by Neil Bergmann
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One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts (Psalm 145:4).
Read Psalm 145:1–8
It can seem like hard work living in the kingdom of God. It can feel like there is so much we should be doing, and so little actually gets done. Many congregations are shrinking and ageing. It can be a struggle just to keep the doors open for a weekly worship service, let alone be able to make an impact in the wider world. Congregation volunteers – as well as pastors and other staff – suffer burnout from trying to do more with less. Hope turns to despair, trust turns to anxiety, and joy turns to depression.
The psalms were written for times like this, especially those like today’s psalm of praise. The kingdom of God is not a transactional community. We don’t first wait until God blesses us with everything we want and then praise God for doing what we wanted God to do.
Instead, the kingdom of God is a relational community. We praise God because God is great and always worthy of praise and always here, beside us, in all our struggles and grief. We praise God to remind us that we do not have to do it by ourselves, but we have the ruler of the universe as our personal protector and guide. We praise God to draw ourselves out of our inner darkness, where we often go in hard times, and into the glorious life-giving light of the kingdom of heaven.
Talking about Jesus, John the Baptist said, ‘he must increase, but I must decrease’ (John 3:30). Through praising God, our timid, fearful self decreases, and the life-giving power of God in us increases. Re-invigorated, we can step forward confidently because God is always with us, whatever happens.
Life-giving God, your creation praises you from morning to night. Fill me with your joy so I can join in that unending praise of your glory. Amen.
Neil Bergmann is currently the chair of Lutheran Earth Care Australia and New Zealand. A retired computer engineer, he worships at Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Rochedale, Queensland. He enjoys reading, cooking and spending time with his family.