Monday, January 15, 2007

More thoughts on praise

After morning prayer, I realized that The General Thanksgiving in the Book of Common Prayer (BCP 101) says, “And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up our selves to your service and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days...” That’s a way that I can praise God.

And, I like the “Song of Moses” (BCP 85), where Deborah (even though it is attributed to Moses, he didn’t sing it – he probably couldn’t sing any better than he could talk – remember God gave him Aaron to speak for him) sings, “I will sing to the Lord, for he is lofty and uplifted, the horse and its rider has he hurled into the sea.” She was talking about the people of God passing through the Red (Reed) Sea and the pursuing Egyptians being caught in the muck and mire as the water returned to its place. There. That’s a good thing to praise. A deed worth talking about.

I confess that I don’t get much out of “A Song of Creation” (BCP 88). It lists a lot of characteristics and things present in the world and repeats over and over “praise him and highly exalt him forever.” And, what’s this “Glory to you for the radiance of your holy Name...” (BCP 90). I haven’t noticed a halo around God’s name, and the Jewish people think that even saying what we presume to be God’s name is bad.

However, Mother Margaret Neill at the Christmas Eve service at St. Francis By the Sea, Salter Path, NC, talking about “Hallowed be your name” from the Lord’s Prayer – she said she held a hallowed place in her heart, her being for God – giving radiance to her life from within. I can groove on that. If one’s name is the essence of one’s being (and for many of us we only have the names our parents chose), then having a special place to hold God’s name, God’s essence inside our own being would be a truly special thing.

So, is that praise? Is that adoration? I don’t think so. Honor and respect seem like better words for what I feel and what I need to offer to God. And, I offer those mostly through his creation – humans and otherwise.

Perhaps those ancient and not-so-ancient writers pushed the idea of constant praise and adoration. It’s an ancient way of having a relationship with the gods. We don’t sacrifice animals to God any longer; the 20th century way is a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. In the 21st century we all seem to arguing over what the basis for a relationship with God really should be – the inerrant Bible, the interpreted Bible, the mountain top experience, the day to day doing of good in the world, the constant prayer, the honor and respect of all God’s creation, the casting out of those who are evil (and this definition varies greatly from person to person). Right now, I’m into a mixture of personal relationship, corporate relationship, doing good in the world and respecting all of creation.

But, while I may talk with God off and on all day long, I wouldn’t consider it all praise and adoration, nor is it lamentation – it’s just conversation. Like: God, I’m perplexed about our money situation. God, that feels good. This scone is heavenly. Ah, God, what do you think that fellow in front of me is going to do next; his driving scares me. Oh, what a beautiful sunset! And sometimes, just “HELP!”

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