The psalm for All Saints Sunday is Psalm 149, one of the celebrated “Final Five” psalms:
Refrain: Hallelujah! Sing to the LORD a new song! Hallelujah! Sing to the LORD a new song; * sing his praise in the congregation of the faithful. Let Israel rejoice in his Maker; * let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let them praise his Name in the dance; * let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp. For the LORD takes pleasure in his people * and adorns the poor with victory. Let the faithful rejoice in triumph; * let them be joyful on their beds. Let the praises of God be in their throat * and a two-edged sword in their hand; To wreak vengeance on the nations * and punishment on the peoples; To bind their kings in chains * and their nobles with links of iron; To inflict on them the judgment decreed; * this is glory for all his faithful people. Hallelujah! Refrain: Hallelujah! Sing to the LORD a new song! If you want a sweet, embraceable God who just loves and loves, stop at 6a and Psalm 149 is the one for you. If you want a God who uses violence and chains and wreaks judgment, take up at verse 6b and this is your baby. Unfortunately, we Episcopalians don’t get to do either. We read the whole thing, and on Sunday that means Lavonne will take us back to our customary pattern of reading responsively by half-verse, beginning and ending with that gorgeous refrain, “Hallelujah, Sing to the Lord a new song!” Verse 3 is one of those scriptures often used to support liturgical dance, as well it should be. But let’s be clear that the dancers envisioned by this psalmist were less pretty teenaged girl in flowing gown and more sweaty dude in armor and boots, smelling a bit much of last night’s garlic mutton. So come, my friends. Praise the Lord! Praise a complicated God who keeps us guessing, who warms our hearts but challenges our minds! Praise the Lord!