Psalm 98:1-2,8-9

O sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things.
His right hand and his holy arm
have gotten him victory.
The Lord has made known his victory;
he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.

Let the floods clap their hands;
let the hills sing together for joy
at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming
to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity.

I love the intensity of the psalms. They take you up and cast you down. It’s hard to remain neutral in the midst of such intensity.

This verse seems perfectly timed for this moment, hearkening to the wonder that is the newborn Christ Child, but also – after this pandemic-ravaged year just passed – to the arrival of life-saving vaccines.

Yes, please, let us sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things!

What I love about this psalm is how the whole world, not just the people in it, is rejoicing. Think about those floods, clapping their hands. It’s a challenging image, perhaps, to get your head around. Yet, I like the challenge of it – God’s pending arrival literally stopping water in its course … to clap! 

Picturing the hills singing for joy is a bit easier, though there too the psalmist writes that they sing together. I picture in my mind’s eye a cluster of mountain peaks leaning in to sing a happy refrain. Why not?

All of this because the Lord is coming to judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with equity. That verse stops me a bit in my revelry. Yes, we are happy that perhaps the scourge of the virus will recede, but we have also learned a lot about inequities over these past 10 months. Let us not forget those in our rush to celebrate. 

Elizabeth McNamara

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