Behold now, praise the Lord,
all ye servants of the Lord,
ye that by night stand in the house of the Lord,
even in the sanctuary of our God.
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary
and praise the Lord.
The Lord that made heaven and earth:
give thee blessing out of Sion.
Friends, it is the octave of Pentecost. Sunday is Trinity and marks the beginning of Ordinary Time. But for now, we are still celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.
Did you know that in the ten days from Ascension to Pentecost the disciples were “continually in the Temple blessing God” (Luke 24:53)? I like to think this psalm of praise was on their lips. They had just seen their dead Lord rise from the grave and their risen Lord ascend into Heaven. Oswald Chambers writes of the Ascension:
…by His Ascension Our Lord enters heaven and keeps the door open for humanity….There is now freedom of access for anyone straight to the very throne of God by the Ascension of the Son of Man. As Son of Man Jesus Christ deliberately limited omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience in Himself. Now they are His in absolute full power. As Son of Man Jesus Christ has all power at the throne of God. He is King of kings and Lord of lords from the day of Ascension until now.
No wonder the disciples gathered to pray and praise and bless the Lord! No wonder they stood in God’s sanctuary by night and day to lift up their hands. No wonder.
Then again, it is all wonder. It is wonder-full. The whole cosmos is shot through with the glory of the risen and ascended Lord. When I can get my gaze off my self long enough to look and see what God has done and is doing, I too want to shout for joy and bless the Lord who has so richly blessed us with so great a Saviour.
And then when I stop and ponder Pentecost, how these continually-blessing-God Jesus-freaks were gathered together, how they were awaiting the promised Comforter, how the wind rushed into that room and tongues of flame alighted on their heads like fire, how Babel was reversed and they could speak in the tongues of men and angels, how power from on High poured over them, poured into them, filled them to the measure with all the fullness of God so their cups ran over and spilled into the streets of the city for all to taste and see that the Lord is good, well, no wonder Pentecost is such a high holy day in the church, no wonder we all come to the sanctuary with bright faces and red shirts, no wonder we lift up our hands and praise the Lord. No wonder.
Then again, it is all wonder. It is wonder-full. It is so wonder-full that the Apostle John at the end of his gospel could only shrug and say of these wonders, “Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”
But we still try to write the wonders, don’t we? We still try to contain the uncontainable, to comprehend the incomprehensible. And that is good and right and necessary. But it is also good and right and necessary to stop trying to pin the wonders on a board, to let them fly free and alight where they will, to let them be what they are and let our only response be the lifting of our hands in wonder at the wonder, in praise of the Maker of Heaven and earth, receptive night and day to whatever wild and crazy blessing He would pour forth into our empty hands to fill them.
Photo by Jo Naylor, Creative Commons via Flickr.