I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.”
The connection between giving thanks to God and praising God is inescapable in the Bible. God’s people may be motivated by all sorts of things to praise him, from the experience of awe and wonder at the enormity and power of God’s creation, to the simple discipline of regularly giving God the praise that he is due. But the motivation to praise God which is perhaps most frequently referred to in the Bible is gratitude. This is especially true for those who come to know the goodness and power of God in and through Jesus Christ. There may be no better way for a follower of Jesus to celebrate the holiday we call ‘Thanksgiving’ than by praising God.
Praise, however, is more than just an appropriate way to give God our thanks. As I hope to demonstrate this Sunday in the final instalment of our ‘This Old Church’ sermon series, praise is foundational to our lives as individual followers of Jesus and to the life of the Church.
Part of the reason praise is foundational to the life of the Church is that, when done properly, it helps to sustain our spiritual lives here and now. But it’s also foundational because it prepares us for the future we still await. When, as the Bible promises, Jesus returns to fulfill God’s kingdom, there are all kinds of things the Church won’t do any more. We won’t do evangelism any more because the future hope to which evangelism points will have been fulfilled. We won’t do funerals anymore because death will have been undone. Jesus even says we won’t do weddings anymore. But, we are told, our worship – our praise – will continue throughout eternity. We’ll talk more about this on Sunday to conclude our series “This Old Church”.
Next Sunday, Oct. 15th, we’re going to start a new series. After having looked at the spiritual foundations of St. Paul’s, we’re going to move up by exploring what I’m calling the “7 Steps”. The 7 Steps are part of a process which, when properly nurtured and integrated into our life as a church, helps each of us and all of us grow spiritually and build meaningful lifegiving community together. I’ll say more about what these steps are in next weeks’ newsletter.
In the meantime I hope you’re able to join us on this journey of spiritual growth and community building, and that you and yours have a blessed Thanksgiving.
The Rev. David Turner