Joy to the World


First Sunday after Christmas

Week of: December 29, 2019
Scripture: 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. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples. For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised.
(Psalm 96:1-4a, NRSV)


Psalm 96 has always been one of my favorites. It pulls out all the stops. This psalm is the full chancel choir, organ and orchestra with handbells, children and youth choir, dance troupe and processional banners, with assistance from the tech crew and a full congregation. (I hope I didn't leave anyone out!) Psalm 96 covers it all — not just the trees and forests but the heavens, the earth, the sea and all that fills them. How grand!

At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Emmanuel — God with us. We celebrate right here in this moment with chaos, with hunger and want, with devastation and loss, with poverty and bias. There's not a more appropriate song to sing at such a time. We sing this psalm of praise to a God who specifically will bring righteousness and equality, who will judge with equity, who will treat everyone as equal. Let us rejoice and be glad!

Prayerful Reflection:

While lighting the four candles of Advent again, along with the Christ candle, may we wander with our mind’s eye over the gathered house of God. These are living pillars of our temple: human saints giving structure, standing together as one body looking for a new song of praise — a new song for a new time in the church, a time of equity, a time for lifting the lowly, of filling the hungry with good things, of justice to the poor, of mercy, righteousness and unbounded welcome to all in love. May we sing this song of joy to all the world right now.

Grace Cox-JohnsonGrace Cox-Johnson
Director of Music, Blue Ridge Presbyterian Church, Raytown, MO
Artist in Residence, Community Christian Church, Kansas City, MO 

* Note: This Psalm reading comes from Nativity of the Lord - Proper I, for December 24-25.

Carriers of Light

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