Don’t! Stop! Now!
Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command! Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds! – Psalm 148:7-10 (NRSV)
I don’t know about what happens at your house, but the day after Christmas is generally a pretty low energy affair around here – recycling wrapping paper, heating up leftovers and wondering whether there’s really any reason to change out of pajamas. The year is nearing its end, and we usually wouldn’t even poke a head out of the door to witness its waning days.
Here in the 148th (or third-to-last) Psalm, you might think the psalmist has earned a rest, like a preacher at the end of a busy season. But instead, the book sprints to a finish, calling all of creation – from the beautiful mountains to the fruitful trees, from the most delicate birds to the most monstrous creatures – into a vigorous, exclamatory act of praise and rejoicing.
As the season winds down, it can be tempting to check praise off our list, the way we checked off wrapping presents for the in-laws or baking the Christmas goose, relieved that that’s over and we don’t have to think about it for another year. But the psalm today invites us to remember that praise isn’t just for special seasons, it’s for every day and everywhere.
So instead of loafing, today I’m going to walk out into the grey light of the end of the year. As I walk, with each step I’m going to remember that I am one of God’s creatures too – delicate and monstrous, fruitful and beautiful. And I’m going to sing the praises that still flow, tired though I may be, with each breath.
Along with all creation! I praise you! Amen.
Jennifer Garrison Brownell is pastor of Vancouver United Church of Christ. Her writing appears in the collection, The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms For the Struggle, available from The Pilgrim Press.