Summary: Because of God’s great love for us, we can say "Hallelujah!" no matter what we’re facing in life.
How do you identify a Canadian? If you’re traveling outside the country, you’ll easily recognize the college student from the U of A, the office worker from Ottawa, and the family from Fernie by the “patch” – that Canadian flag sewn on backpacks hoisted by just about everyone who hails from the Great White North. But if the Maple Leaf wasn’t such a prominent part of a Canadian traveller’s uniform, how would you know whether or not that person you were swinging the clubs with in Arizona, for example, is from Canada? By their speech of course. You know what I’m talking about. The whole world knows what I’m talking about for when people think about Canadian speech they think of one word…“eh?”
Now, how do you identify a Christian? Well there is the fish symbol many Christians slap on the rear bumper of their vehicles, but how do you identify a Christian when they’re not driving? Is there a word like “eh?” we use that sets us apart from others? There ought to be. That word, according to our text, is “Hallelujah!” Today we’ll learn that “Hallelujah!” is a word for every occasion.
“Hallelujah!” Is that a word you identify with Lutherans - Christians who have been called the frozen chosen by believers of other denominations? Not usually. Oh, we sing “Alleluias” in our hymns and canticles (songs of the liturgy) but we’re probably not in the habit of belting out a “Hallelujah” outside of these walls. Maybe a reason for this is that we’re unsure of what the word means. “Hallelujah” is the combination of two Hebrew words for “Praise the LORD!” “Hallelujah” and its variations are used 23 times in the 59 verses that make up the last five songs in the book of Psalms. Why were these ancient hymn writers so keen on praising the Lord? Well, the anonymous author of our text says that he will praise the LORD because he is “the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them” (Psalm 146:6a). A few weeks ago we read Colossians 2 and were reminded how powerful God is to have made things as big as the stars. We don’t have to look so far away to see God’s power; we can see that power under our feet in the oceans that cover over 70% of the earth’s surface. The average depth of the oceans is 3,795 m (the distance between the church and Sturgeon hospital as the crow flies) while the average height on land is just 840 m. It’s not surprising then that 80% of all life is found under the ocean’s surface. Fast life like the Bluefin Tuna which can reach speeds of up to 121 kmph in short bursts. Large life like the Blue whale whose heart is the size of a Volkswagon. Microscopic life like millions of bacterial cells, hundreds of thousands of phytoplankton, and tens of thousands of zooplankton, all of which can be found in just a mouthful of seawater. So yeah, keep your mouth shut next time you go surfing.
Yes, God made the seas and everything in them but what does that have to do with us here on the Prairies? Why praise the LORD for this? We praise the LORD for this because it shows how powerful he is. Have you ever tried running in waist-deep water? It’s tough isn’t it? Consider then how God moves the Kuroshio current off the coast of Japan 121 km a day, a rate faster than the Amazon River flows. If God has the power to move trillions of litres of water, what can’t he do? There is nothing that God cannot do.
Yes, God is powerful and so we praise him but this is not the kind of praise we give to the Olympic weightlifter who can hoist 260 kg (573 lbs) above his head. We slap a gold medal on such a person but then we forget about them. I mean do you know the name of this weightlifter who holds the record? (Rezazadeh Hossein) No, but neither does he know your name. That’s generally the problem with those who are powerful in this world. They don’t care about those who are weaker than they. Oh sure, powerful companies like GM, Mattel, Johnson & Johnson may seem to care about you because they’re always trying to get your attention, but all they really care about is what you have in your wallet. God is not like that. He’s powerful, yes, more powerful than any weightlifter, billionaire, global company, and superpower nation. Yet he’s also personal. The Psalmist wrote: “[The LORD] upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, 8 the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous. 9 The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked” (Psalm 146:7-9).