Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice!
Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy!
Let the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord, for he is coming! (Psalm 96: 11-13a NLT)
This last weekend my family and I, along with some good friends, took a trip to our family cabin on the north slope of the Uinta Mountains of eastern Utah. My grandparents built the cabin after they moved here from Ohio in the 1960s. My grandfather, Ed Moore, was infatuated, perhaps obsessed with the American West. Part of his dream was to have a cabin in the mountains for him and his family to enjoy. He passed many years ago, but left this wonderful legacy to his kids and grandkids.
Our trip last weekend served two purposes: first of course was recreation. My dad and I went fishing (which is cool because it was Father’s Day weekend) and managed to catch 8 fish. Quite the success if I say so myself! There was also work to do though. Four large pine trees had blown over onto the roof of the cabin during the winter, and they needed to be removed. Saturday afternoon dad, myself, and family friend Mark Miller got to work and managed to remove all of the trees, as well as two more still standing but dead trees that might have posed a future risk to the cabin. We chopped them up too! Dad and Mark even let me use a chainsaw, which makes me think that they didn’t know me as well as they should…..
But I digress.
All of the fishing and the working was done by Sunday morning. We weren’t going to be at church, but I had a little voice that kept suggesting something that I could do on Sunday morning that would be fitting worship to the Creator while being alive in his marvelous creation.
A little after 9 o’clock in the morning I grabbed my Bible and walked from the cabin into the meadow behind it. The picture above was taken on the edge of that meadow just before I started. I walked to the back of the area, where I knew I would be alone with God, and opened up to Psalm 19. Check out verses 1-5:
The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
and their words to all the world.
God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.
It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding.
It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race.
These seemed like fitting words to inaugurate the beautiful morning breaking forth around me. However, I didn’t read them, I chanted them.
You see, from 1995-2001 I was privileged to be the cantor at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Ogden. It required more than being a good singer, I also had to learn the little melody that the clergy and musicians use when they free chant a reading or a prayer. Recently during Lent, I tried to do this again–to chant a Psalm–to enhance my meditation. Specifically I used Psalm 22.
Last Sunday morning my voice joined with the birds of the air and the beasts of the field in praising God. After Psalm 19, I remembered another Psalm that seemed appropriate: Psalm 96. The first 6 verses struck me and drilled straight into my spirit as the words flowed from my mouth:
Sing a new song to the Lord!
Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!
Sing to the Lord; praise his name.
Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.
Publish his glorious deeds among the nations.
Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.
Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!
He is to be feared above all gods.
The gods of other nations are mere idols,
but the Lord made the heavens!
Honor and majesty surround him;
strength and beauty fill his sanctuary.
I was truly singing a new song. My life has changed so dramatically over the past year, and it’s thanks to the love, forgiveness, and grace of God that I “rediscovered for the first time.” In years past, my anger prevented me from chanting Psalms. In years past, I was so caught up in an unhealthy relationship that I was paralyzed to the extent that I could not enjoy a weekend at the cabin with family and friends.
The grace and love of Jesus set me free from that anger, from that fear, and I couldn’t be more thankful.
As the final words of Psalm 96 issued from my lips and rang out in the morning air, I felt a breeze, just a little wind. Perhaps it was just that, a little breeze, but I like to think it was something more. I think it was the Spirit of the Creator moving around me for just a minute, accepting and taking delight in my worship on that otherwise still morning.
Then I fell into silence in the presence of the Living God.