An unbroken link
Psalm 145: 1-8 (NRSV)
1 I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
2 Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.
3 Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
4 One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
5 They speak of the glorious splendour of your majesty –
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
6 They tell of the power of your awesome works –
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
7 They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
For some of 2019, I visited some Methodist congregations in the south of England. I was not surprised by most of what I saw, with the exception to one thing: the importance of singing. That’s because, in the tradition itself, Methodism holds closely to its origins within the perfectly poetic, and serenely spiritual words of Charles Wesley. He wrote such wonderful hymns that all of God’s people sing together, but the one I heard most often was ‘Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.’ Without question, I assumed it was based on Psalm 145, which is similarly fruitful in how it directs us in thought and imagery to praise the mighty and majestic works of God. Wesley, I think, would describe the psalmist as someone ‘lost in wonder, love and praise,’ as he does in his hymn.
The psalmist’s writings, and Wesley’s song centres on the Praise of God, because it is product of heartfelt Christian testimony. We all have a story to tell about God’s grace and God’s goodness to us, it’s an unbroken link to the time of Jesus and the disciples.
Think about that for a moment. Maybe you’re thinking that your story doesn’t mean anything, maybe it wasn’t a miraculous conversion like Paul in Damascus. Maybe your testimony and praise to God’s work in your life is steady, and calm, and it has happened over time and might even still be happening. Regardless of what your circumstance is, your testimony is part of an unbroken link that goes back generations and generations. The day you believed and thanked God for saving you, was the day you claimed brother and sisterhood with the person who wrote the words of Psalm 145, it is the same collective voice as the disciples as they loved their Lord, it it is in the same sacrifice as the church fathers and mothers down through the ages. It is one united voice lost in wonder, love and praise.
Your splendour is unmatched
your majesty unbridled.
You have given me a story
that extends from this day
far into the past.
You have given me a new life
that connects me together with all of your
Work your grace in my life
that I might live to praise you
and extol your name forever. Amen.