Psalm 96 (B)

Psalm 96
O sing to the Lord a new song;
    sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
    tell of his salvation from day to day.

Click on the link for the Psalm above (my links show up as red words) or find it in your favorite Bible or digital Bible or listen to Psalm 96:

Bonus: The Lord’s Prayer is about the amount of time you need for hand scrubbing 😉 

Breath Prayer:  I am including breath prayers because this is the practice that I engage in most often.  Sometimes, I simply manage my breathing as I would when I was singing as a warmup and strengthening exercise.  This practice helps me to feel centered, strong, and connected with myself and the divine.  Sometimes, I add words or intentions for the inhalation and exhalation.  

Nicole Cardoza’s Guided Meditation For Anxiety
Try this short meditation, created by Yoga Foster and Reclamation Ventures founder Nicole Cardoza, the next time you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious.  Read in Yoga Journal.

Mr. Roger’s “Taking a breath”  This one is short, but Mr. Roger’s voice is calming for me (and many Pittsburghers) and even his virtual presence can summon childhood memories of calmness and safety.  

Reflection:

When I taught music, I was always on a quest for a new song, especially at Christmas time. Teaching at a Catholic high school allowed my Christmas Concerts to be called Christmas Concerts and for the line between Concert and Musical Meditation on the Scriptures to get very blurry. More than once I structured the choral pieces to reflect a lessons and carols style of worship. The music library had great selections and my budget was robust enough to purchase new songs each year too, so the Christmas Concerts told the same story but with different music. And, I taught there long enough that a I was able to bring back music I taught previously so that the seniors had one song from their freshmen year to sing at the Christmas Concert, because sometimes, old songs can be made new.

The song I brought back wasn’t the most thrilling piece of music I had ever heard, the harmonies were predictable and bordered on cheesy. The lyrics were okay, a couple of lines I thought were theologically questionable, but last line made me fall in love with this song the way many of us fall in love with Hallmark Christmas Movies, “Inn Keepers, Inn Keepers, Inn Keepers All, Do you have room for the child?”.

Advent is about making room for Christ; preparing the way for the coming Messiah; remembering Christ’s first coming and waiting, preparing, and hoping for the second coming. Christmas is more than a memory of Christ being born, Christmas is the rebirth of Christ once again in our hearts. And I know this year it may seem like we are surviving in a poop filled barn, but it seems to me that the Christmas story reminds us that Christ will still come into less than ideal circumstances. We will have room for Christ to be born anew within our hearts.

Psalm 96 is an old song made new again. The psalmist reminds us that every time we experience the reign of God in a new or renewed way, we need a new song to reorient our lives to praise God. The new song reminds us that God created all that is and reigns over the whole world with love, righteousness, faithfulness, and peace. The new song reminds us that the future belongs to God too, even when our current circumstances would indicate otherwise. The new song voices expectation and confidence in the future works of God.

I hope this Christmas we all receive Christ with joy and sing a new song of salvation.

O sing to the Lord a new song;
    sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
    tell of his salvation from day to day.

Let us pray:

One way to think about breath prayer is that whatever is exhaled other people will inhale. So, sometimes we might inhale and exhale the same idea with the hope that what we receive from God, we can share with others. For example, you may imagine receiving God’s steadfast love while praying that others are receiving God’s steadfast love.

Another way to think about breath prayer is to pick something you would like to receive for your inhalation and something you would like to release for your exhalation. The idea is to keep it simple, so I encourage you to simply find one word for each inhale and one word for each exhale. That simple prayer could be something like this: God fill me with your Holy spirit. I receive your peace and release my desire for perfection.

Ok, everyone take a deep breath. Breath in. Breath out. Breath in. Breath out. Repeat as needed.

Sources and notes:

“The psalm envisions the LORD as a divine presence in his sanctuary-palace. The presence is mediated through the attributes of glory and majesty, strength and beauty.” Mays p. 308

“The message is intend to arouse joy and evoke faith in Yahweh as the nations come to understand that he reigns as king over the whole world.” WBC p. 512

“Psalm 96 is on of the hymns of praise sung by Asaph and his choral guild before the ark after David brought it to Jerusalem. The procession brining the ark of the LORD represented in liturgical drama his coming to his palace-temple as king (see Ps. 24:7-10). The reality behind the liturgical act was the marvelous works of salvation, the historical occasion when Israel had experienced the intervention of the LORD, moments Israel remembered in epic story (Exodus, Joshua, Judges, Samuel) and in poetry celebrating the LORD’s coming in theophany (Psalm 18; note the repetition of Ps. 29:1-2 and 98: 7-9). Phrases and clauses from Psalm 96 and from Psalms 97 and 98 appear in the prophecy of the exilic Isaiah (compare vv. 11-13 with Isa. 40:10; 44:23; 49:13; 55:12; also 59:19f.; 60:1; 62:11). Isaiah saw the return of the exiles from Babylon as a revelation of the LORD as king and as a demonstration of his rule that proved that the gods of the nations were nothing. The past “comings” of the LORD have a future. The liturgy remembers and anticipates. The psalm always places those who sing it in the presence of the LORD who has come and will rule the earth in righteousness and faithfulness.” Mays p. 309

“Every festival, or other occasion of worship, merited a new song to cellarage Yahweh’s new and renewed works.” WBC p. 513

“The “new song” is to express a new realization and acknowledgement act the future belongs to Yahweh. “A new song must be sung for a new orientation” (Brueggemann, The Message of the Psalms, 144.) The new song is the song which breaks through the restraints of the present circumstances and voices expectation and confidence in the future works of God (see Krouse, II, 836).” WBC p. 514

WBC Allen, Leslie C. 1983. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 101-150. Vol. 21. Waco, TX: Word Books, Publisher.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. 1974. Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible. 8th ed. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Press.

Brueggemann, Walter. 2007. Praying the Psalms: Engaging Scripture and the Life of the Spirit. 2nd ed. Eugene, OR: Cascade.

Brueggemann Brueggemann, Walter. 2014. From Whom No Secrets Are Hid: Introducing the Psalms. Edited by Brent A. Strawn. 1st ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

WBC Craigie, Peter C. 1983. Psalms 1-50–Word Biblical Commentary. Vol. 19. Waco, TX: Word Books.

Creach, Jerome Frederick Davis. 1998. Psalms: Interpretation Bible Studies. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

NIB Keck, Leander E. 2015. The New Interpreters Bible Commentary. Vol. 3. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Mays Mays, James Luther. 1994. Psalms. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press.

McCann, J. C., & Howell, J. C. 2001. Preaching the Psalms. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Miller Miller, Patrick D. 1986. Interpreting the Psalms. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press.

Schlimm Schlimm, Matthew Richard. 2018. 70 Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know. Nashville, TN: Abington Press.

Spong Spong, M. (Ed.). (2020). The words of her mouth: Psalms for the struggle. Cleveland, OH: The Pilgrim Press.

WBC Tate, Marvin E. 1990. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 51-100. Edited by David Allan. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker. Vol. 20. Waco, TX: Word.

OTL Weiser, Artur. 1998. Old Testament Library: Psalms. Translated by Herbert Hartwell. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Manchester University Press.

I began writing Psalm reflections during Lent of 2020 shortly after we decided to close the church building, work from home, and worship via zoom.  Many churches use the revised common lectionary that rotates scripture on a three-year cycle (A, B, and C).  Starting in Advent 2019, Third Church decided to worship with the texts from Year D, which is still not circulated as are years A, B, and C.  Year D was created with the goal of including scriptures that were left out or not used as frequently as others.  Reflections exploring the Psalms in year D.  While we were using Year D, most other lectionary followers were using Year A.  Now that we are rejoining those who use the lectionary, we are on Year B.  This we hope will keep all of us planning and preparing worship on the same page.  

I use the Vanderbilt Divinity Library’s resource for lectionary readings to make text selections when I’m following the Revised Common Lectionary.

Other Year B Psalm blog posts:

Advent – Transfiguration: 1st Sunday in Advent Psalm 80, 2nd Sunday in Advent Psalm 85, 3rd Sunday in Advent Psalm 126, 4th Sunday in Advent Psalm 89, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day Psalm 96, Psalm 97, Psalm 98, 1st Sunday after Christmas, Psalm 148, New Year’s Day Psalm 8, 2nd Sunday after Christmas Psalm 147, Epiphany Psalm 72, 1st Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 29, 2nd Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 139, 3rd Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 62, 4th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 111, 5th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 147, Transfiguration Sunday (Sunday before Lent) Psalm 50

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