1 O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. 3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all peoples. 4For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be revered above all gods.5For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.6Honor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. 7Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the people, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. 8Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring and offering and come into his courts. 9Worship the Lord in holy splendor; tremble before him, all the earth. 10Say among the nations, “The Lord is king! The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity.” 11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; 12 let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy 13 before the Lord; for he is coming, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth. ’
In the season of Advent, we focus on the coming of the Lord into the world in person. God coming to us in the person of the baby Jesus, God with us. The birth of Jesus to Mary and Joseph is the coming of the long-awaited Messiah; the ruler anticipated throughout the Old Testament; the king who will establish God’s kingdom of righteousness and truth.
The writer of Psalm 96 sees God’s coming into the world as an occasion for celebration and joy throughout the creation. The heavens are glad. The earth rejoices. The sea and everything in it roars. The fields and everything in them exult. The trees of the forest sing for joy. They sing a new song. And we sing it with them. Why? Because the Lord is coming. But this is not just the humble coming of God into the world that we’ve been hearing about all through Advent. This is something more. Something earth-shattering.
Over the centuries, Christians everywhere have come to think of God’s coming into the world in two stages. There is God’s humble coming in the baby in the manger. Then there is God’s second coming in glory. The word “glory” appears three times in this short Psalm: in verses 3, 7, and 8. In this second coming, we believe God is coming into the world to set everything right. To overcome sin and evil. To conquer death. To judge the world with complete fairness.
How are we to respond? First, the coming of God into the world—both in humility and in glory—calls us to worship. “Worship the Lord in holy splendor.” “Bring an offering, and come into his courts.” And second, it also calls us to witness. “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples.” And finally, it calls for singing. “O sing to the Lord a new song. Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Tell of his salvation from day to day!”
Lord, may I welcome you with open arms at your coming in humility, and at your coming in glory!
Contributed by Rev. Phil Butin