PSALM 148

1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
    praise him in the heights!
2 Praise him, all his angels;
    praise him, all his host!

3 Praise him, sun and moon;
    praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
    and you waters above the heavens!

5 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for he commanded and they were created.
6 He established them forever and ever;
    he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
    you sea monsters and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and frost,
    stormy wind fulfilling his command!

9 Mountains and all hills,
    fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Wild animals and all cattle,
    creeping things and flying birds!

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
    princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and women alike,
    old and young together!

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for his name alone is exalted;
    his glory is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
    praise for all his faithful,
    for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord!

What we have described as the third phase in the spiraling ascent of spiritual growth is also the trimester of new birth. We can see more clearly now that God was present with us all along, and that the angels (friends and strangers) who reached out to us in our time of need were truly the auspicious incarnations of God’s grace and peace.

Relieved for having made it through, but even more thankful for the sunrise of a new day after the soul’s dark night, we look out on a world that seems more colorful than before, more radiant with meaning and miracle.

If our understanding of God has been allowed to evolve along with the dynamic progression of our personal and spiritual growth, then God also is experienced in a new and more relevant way. Most typically our idea of God becomes more universal and mystical at the same time: the One who is “Lord of All” is also the inner ground of my being.

This is a time for reflection on the deep crisis and transformation variously called the Nativity, Incarnation, and Apocalypse of Love. The startling way by which the Light of Truth entered the world throws all of our orthodox notions of God out of balance. If we have any hope of receiving its genuine mystery, we must pause, look back, and make the connections.

Especially now, in fact, as the world is returning to “normalcy” (business as usual, status quo, the half-asleep condition of ordinary consciousness), we need to catch hold of Bethlehem’s star.

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