The psalmist invites us to join the choir for the Lord’s victory celebration. There will be instrumental accompaniment, strings, and brass. Even Creation’s children will be there: the seas roaring, the floods clapping their hands, and the hills alive with the sound of music. What a victory party it’s going to be!
But wait. It’s a party with a kicker. The guest of honor will judge the earth. Come to the victory party and then be told you’re a loser? When the church’s new-member dinner is over, you’re told about self-sacrifice and handed a pledge card. Or does the psalmist trust that the victory celebration results precisely because the guest of honor will “judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity”?
It all depends on your perspective. If you’ve spent your life winning by taking advantage of the weak, then the weak will likely enjoy this party more than you will. If your victories have come through intimidation, manipulation, and deceit, this won’t be like the champagne and caviar parties you’re used to. If you’re used to attending black-tie galas with the rich and famous, you may feel uncomfortable with these come-as-you-are attendees in their thrift-store attire. If you’re complaining about how tired you are of going to dinner parties, be prepared to overhear conversations about this being the first party some have ever attended. And, if you’re Creation and you’ve been ravaged, this day of victory has been delayed way too long. In fact, you’ve doubted that it would ever come.
Then again, maybe in the judgment of the guest of honor you and others will discover grace. You’ll find that by losing, you and the whole world win. Now that’s a victory worth celebrating.
Eternal Guest of Honor, teach me that in losing I win a wonderful life and a wonderful world. Amen.
The Acts passage continues to tell the story of the advance of the gospel. The Holy Spirit falls on a group of Gentiles. They believe and are baptized, thus showing God’s inclusion of all peoples in the plan of salvation. Psalm 98 is a simple declaration of praise. All creation will sing to and rejoice in the Lord. The two passages from John are linked by their emphasis on the relationship between love and obedience. We do not follow God’s commandments in order to make God love us. On the contrary, because God has first loved us and we love God in return, we follow God’s teachings. Jesus provides the model for us, being obedient to his Father out of love.
• Read Acts 10:44-48. When has the Spirit of God brought you to a new understanding?
• Read Psalm 98. Does the guest of honor’s coming to judge the earth make you feel easy or uneasy? Why?
• Read 1 John 5:1-6. Is your life one of “oughts,” “musts,” and “shoulds”? Do you impose them on yourself, or do they come from others? How do you move toward loving obedience?
• Read John 15:9-17. How do you experience yourself as a manifestation of the Logos?
Respond by posting a prayer.