by Pastor Matt Bishop
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It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High (Psalm 92:1).
About an hour before the appointed beginning of worship, the faithful communion steward would arrive each week to begin his task of setting the Lord’s table. After our customary exchange of the Lord’s peace, the conversation would turn to how many might be at worship. Pre-COVID, when most people used the common cup, how many individual cups to put out? We’d compare notes on who had told us through the week wouldn’t be there (something that feels awfully close to hearing confession at times!). Sometimes, we’d conclude that it seems it might be a bit down this week. Once on this type of hunch, we put out a bit less than usual. We were soon scrambling for more supplies. Thereafter, we always said, ‘Well, let’s just see what the Spirit brings today’. And, honestly, whenever we thought things might be a bit low, the Spirit always supplied abundantly.
‘It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High.’ God’s people know this, which is why those counting how many cups to put out are often surprised. God’s people know there is something beautiful and blessing about worship that draws them outside of their own world and into his presence with the other saints, both living and gone before us. There they have their deepest yearnings met. For many people, it’s a still place set apart from the rush of the week. No devices (except for when they switch their Bibles on!). A chance to be fed. A chance to be served by someone else and no less than in the good things of God. This psalm, the only one linked specifically to the Sabbath, reflects this at every turn.
The people of God have been meeting regularly and frequently together for eons around the person of Christ in whom there is ‘no unrighteousness’ (verse 15c). Sometimes we need encouragement, as the writer of Hebrews recognises in their exhortation to not give up meeting together (Hebrews 10:24,25). But when we think about the Sunday ahead, we know it will be good. This psalm was written possibly 3000 years ago. But its recognition of the ‘good’ that thanksgiving is reads like something that the modern wellbeing and mental health movement are only now just catching up with. We didn’t need that to tell us an ancient truth; nevertheless, it shows us that God has been all over our deepest needs since the beginning.
Lord God, your thoughts are so deep! Thank you that I can be outside of myself and in your world when you serve us in worship. You have made me glad by your work; at the work of your hands, I sing for joy. Richly feed all who sing praises to your name. In his name, by your Holy Spirit, I pray. Amen.