For this week we will use the appointed psalm to focus our devotion.
Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.
Full of honor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.
He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds; the Lord is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him; he is ever mindful of his covenant.
He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the heritage of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever.
During the time of the Reformation there came about the question what is required for Christian unity. In other words, what is sufficient for us to be in accord? Or what are the things that mandate that we must remain in tension?
In the modern day the question might look more like this:
- Do we have to use the same hymnals or worship forms or scripted prayers to be in good relationship with another church body?
- Do folks have to be in our denomination or particular subset before we can get along?
- What must we share in common in order to worship together?
What is sufficient and necessary and what is inconsequential (adiophora is the fancy word for such things)?
Article VII of the Augsburg Confession says this is what is required:
For this is enough for the true unity of the Christian church that there the gospel is preached harmoniously according to a pure understanding and the sacraments are administered in conformity with the divine Word. It is not necessary for the true unity of the Christian church that uniform ceremonies, instituted by human beings, be observed everywhere. (Kolb)
It seems that our psalm is laying out the basics of this true Christian unity
- The great works of the Lord are studied and lifted up
- The Lord's wonderful deeds are recounted and lifted up
- Thanksgiving is given among the people
- Food (bread and wine) is provided to those who fear him and we are reminded of the covenant
- Redemption is sent to the Lord's people
This week as you live out Psalm 111 in worship know that you are part of a vast expanse of saints that straddles time and space and denomination. You are a part of that great cloud of witnesses mentioned in Hebrews 12:1 and populated in the previous chapter. You are part of a great Christian unity that at times might seem elusive but is real and true because God and God's covenant are real and true.
God help us look past our surface differences and draw deeply into your word rightly preached and your sacraments properly administered all to your glory. Use us to blast through human separations into the unity that is your plan and your will. Amen.