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The Rev. William Klock: “The Word: Graciously Written and Graciously Incarnate for Our Salvation” (Psalm 119:169-176)

December 28, 2010

Tonight I’d like to mention (now that Advent has ended for this year) the sermon The Word: Graciously Written and Graciously Incarnate for Our Salvation by the Rev. William Klock. This final sermon in what has been a tremendous series is based on Psalm 119:169-176. Fr. Bill’s opening paragraph sums up the series quite well:

Today we finally come to the last stanza of Psalm 119—verses 169 to 176. As we’ve been seeing for the last twenty-one weeks, the 119th Psalm is a poem or a hymn in praise of God’s Word, but in each stanza David shows us a different aspect of the Word: that it’s the source of happiness for those who walk in it; that it’s the source of the knowledge of the truth; that it the source of life; that it’s the place where we find knowledge of God’s grace; that it shows us holiness. The list is a long one, but David doesn’t just tell us what the Word is or what it can do for us, he draws us into his own personal experience of the Word: how it showed him his sins; how it gave him a knowledge of holiness; how he found new life in it. Ultimately we see that the Word drove David to God—to cry out for truth, for holiness, for blessing, for comfort, for peace, for salvation, for life and then we see him praising God for granting him all these things in faithful fulfillment of his promises.

I’ve always found Psalm 119 very rich, but despite the fact that I’ve read through—even meditated on it and memorised parts of it—more times than I can possibly count, I always tended to approach these twenty-two stanza as all being variation on the same principles. I was challenged when I read Martin Luther’s statement that he wouldn’t exchange one page of it for the whole world and then accused those who thought of it as merely twenty-two variations on the same theme of being fools. Working our way through this psalm has, I hope, proved him right about just how rich this psalm is.

I’d like to also mention one other point raised by Fr. Bill – why we worship:

Look at verses 171 and 172:

My lips will pour forth praise, for you teach me your statutes. My tongue will sing of your word, for all your commandments are right.

This is true worship. We have all sorts of upside-down ideas today of what constitutes true worship or how to evaluate worship. We use all sorts of subjective criteria to judge our worship. We say it was good because we felt a certain way afterward. We judge whether or not the Holy Spirit was present with us based on similar feelings. Brothers and sisters, Jesus has promised us that his Spirit is with us. Period. It’s an objective fact. Where Christians are gathered, his Spirit is with us regardless of how we feel. And true worship isn’t judged so much by how it makes us feel, but by what we put into it—really based on the feelings of love and gratitude for God that we bring to our worship. The real question we need to ask ourselves when our times of worship are over is whether or not we did a good job. Worship is our offering to God, not the other way around. Does he meet us here? Yes. He even comes to us through his Word, read and preached, and given at his Table. But the fact is worship is our offering to him. He doesn’t worship us, we worship him and we worship him because we can do nothing else when we think of the deliverance he offers, when we consider that he has taught us to walk in the way of righteousness.

May we offer ourselves to Him in spirit and in truth in this new year to come!

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