During World War II a young pastor named J.B. Phillips discovered the youth in his congregation didn’t understand the King James Version of the Bible. He used his time in the bomb shelters during the London Blitz to translate Colossians into modern English. The results appealed to the young people who found it easier to understand than the King James Version. Encouraged by their feedback, after the war Phillips continued translating the New Testament.
In addition to his work as a translator, over the course of his ministry, Phillips wrote a number of books. One of these had a provocative title: “Your God is Too Small”.
The trouble with many of us, wrote Phillips, is that we have not found a God big enough for our modern needs. In varying degrees we suffer from a limited idea of God. Phillips exposes such inadequate ideas of God as "Resident Policeman," "Grand Old Man," "Meek-and-Mild," and "Managing Director".
There is another, much older, book that we can turn to when we find ourselves with too small a conception of God.
We can turn to the book known as Psalms.
Over and over again the Psalms remind us the greatness of God.
Psalm 89 proclaims the greatness of God through a series of questions: “For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord? Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings? In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; He is more awesome than all who surround Him. O Lord God Almighty, who is like You? You are mighty, O Lord, and Your faithfulness surrounds You. ”
Psalm 97 declares this about the Lord our God: “Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. Fire goes before Him and consumes His foes on every side. His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.”
Psalm 99 reminds us: “The Lord reigns, let the nations tremble; He sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake.”
From beginning to end the Psalms remind us the greatness of the Lord. It is no wonder then that the Lutheran Church has traditionally ended the Psalms with the Glori Patri: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.