Praise for God’s Help
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long.
Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish.
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!
I am sure that all of you know what a special day it is today is. After all, we have heard it predicted and discussed since this time last year. And as New Englanders, though it doesn’t surprise us a bit, we are excited to cheer on our New England Patriots this afternoon in Super Bowl LII. I’m sure later today there will be a spike in the faith of many, as they bow their heads, praying for a field goal, or a touchdown, or for God to step in and give their team strength, direction, agility, or whatever it is they might be lacking. And however the game ends, I can guarantee you that there will be people celebrating amazing plays and there will be people
complaining about the referees’ calls, and, of course, the reaction will be dependent on the outcome of the game. If the Pats win, we’re happy, but if they lose, we were obviously cheated. Either way, at the end of the game tonight, there will be winners and there will be losers. There will be tears of joy and tears of frustration and defeat. Because this is the Super Bowl, folks! The championship! The dream of all dreams!
Here in Oldtown, I know that many of you will be watching the game and cheering on Tom Brady and the Patriots, or Nick Foles and the Eagles, and though you may not remember it in your excitement today, either choice is okay, because as we say here in Oldtown each week, no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey- even if you’re an Eagles fan – you are welcome here.
As a part of our “Souper Bowl” celebration here in Oldtown, we take part in the Souper Bowl of Caring program. “More than twenty-eight years ago, the Souper Bowl of Caring began with a simple prayer from a single youth group: ‘Lord, as we enjoy the Super Bowl football game, help us to be mindful of those without even a bowl of soup to eat.’ Since that day, more than $135 million has been raised for local charities across the country through the Souper Bowl of Caring. It has become a powerful movement that is transforming the time around Super Bowl weekend into the nation’s largest celebration of giving and serving. Through this mission, young people learn what it’s like to make a positive difference in the world, as they collect food, raise money, and volunteer to work with charities that provide shelter to the homeless, food to the hungry, and compassion to those in need.”
Here in Oldtown, our Sunday school children bring in the ingredients to make soup, and this morning they have been busy downstairs in our kitchen, chopping and pouring, mixing and cooking, and after worship today, you are all invited to join us out in Maxcy Hall for a nice hot bowl of soup made by our young people. I guess you could say that it’s become a “pre-tailgate” tradition here in Oldtown!
As you head out into Maxcy Hall, you’ll also notice that some of the children will be holding empty soup pots. That’s where you have an opportunity to help out. The young people of our church will be collecting monetary donations for the Souper Bowl of Caring program. The exciting part about it is that 100% of the money donated goes to feed families in our area. All of the money collected today will go the Food and Friends Kitchens, which feeds hungry families in the Attleboro Area. Did you know that because of the hard work of Food and Friends, there is a hot meal available for anyone in need, every single day of the week? The meals are served in different locations depending on the day of the week, but each setting is on a local bus route to make sure that it is easily accessible to those in need. I don’t know about you, but I think that is truly something to celebrate and to praise God for!!
Friends, our word of the day today is “praise,” which we heard several times from the psalmist: “Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long.”
And the word “praise,” as it says in our Oldtown message, means “to express warm approval or adoration of.” We praise God as we sing and pray and gather for worship. But we also praise God during the week as we work and play and shop for groceries and watch football. The important part that I want you all to remember today about praising God has to do with something that I mentioned about football just a few minutes ago. If you remember, we talked about the fact that, right now, football fans around the world are excited and cheering for their teams. Patriots fans and Eagles fans alike are filled with joy and anticipation for today’s game. But once the game is over tonight, there will be winners, and there will be losers. There will be people celebrating and people complaining. There will be tears of joy and tears of frustration and defeat. Because as we said earlier, this is the Super Bowl, folks! The championship! The dream of all dreams!
But the difference between cheering for your favorite football team and praising God is the depth, the connection, and the true reason for our action. Cheering for your favorite football team, even it if it is during the Super Bowl, is a fleeting thing, and it all hinges on how the team performs and what the outcome is. If your team wins, you continue to cheer and celebrate. If your team loses, you turn off the TV and the celebration ends. Praising God, however, is very different, because our praise for God does not change depending on what is happening around us. Though our emotions may change and the situations that we find ourselves in may be different, God always remains the same. Whether we find ourselves in the darkest valley or on the highest mountaintop, God is always there, loving us, and holding us, and guiding us, no matter how fun and exciting or how dark and cold the night might seem.
As the psalmist said, “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help. When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish. Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever;”
Friends, as you watch the Super Bowl this afternoon, if that’s what you choose to do, and you cheer on your favorite team, whoever your favorite team might be, remember that though the excitement of the game may only last for a few hours, God’s love for you lasts for more than a lifetime!
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, as you go out into your busy day ahead, take a few minutes to join us in Maxcy Hall for some soup. Support our young people in our Souper Bowl of Caring program, and have fun cheering on your team. But when the game is over, and football season comes to an end, remember that God’s love for you never ends. So continue praising God in the good times and in the bad, for, as the psalmist told us, “The LORD will reign forever, your God, for all generations. (let us) Praise the LORD!”
My friends may it be so. Thanks be to God, Amen!