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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Praise my soul, the King of heaven;
to his feet your tribute bring;
ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
evermore his praises sing:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise the everlasting king.

Praise him for his grace and favor
to his people in distress;
praise him still the same as ever,
slow to chide, and swift to bless:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Glorious in his faithfulness.

Henry Francis Lyte’s “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven”
(tune: Lauda Anima)
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

When you think about it, praise is an odd thing, really. It’s what you use to train a puppy: “Who’s a good puppy? You are! You are such a good puppy!” It’s what you use to build up a peer: “Way to go, dude!” or “You go, girl!” It’s also what you use to suck up to a really insecure boss.

How does this fit into our relationship with God? They’re all a little awkward. Maybe “Way to go, dude!” is the closest to being OK. I’m not incredibly comfortable with “Who’s a good God? You are!” because when you get right down to it, we’re the puppy in that relationship. And really, thinking about God as an insecure boss who really needs to be praised by subordinates is kind of the opposite of worship.

Maybe it’s useful to think of praise as a way of giving thanks. The lyric above, it’s all thanksgiving. “Thanks for doing these wonderful things, Lord.” And that’s one of the most important prayers—simple thanks.

Praise is also something else: it is a deep expression of wonder. I was at Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies a few weeks ago, and looking out over this beautiful valley between snowcapped mountains I was struck silent by the sheer beauty and majesty of where I was standing. That “Wow . . .” is an act of praise.

In the end, praise is also an acknowledgement of love. It’s what we do when we love someone: “I think you’re wonderful.” When we say it and when we hear it, it confirms that we are linked by love. Thanks, and wonder, and love.

Dear Lord, thank you for all the amazing things you do. Wow. I think you are wonderful. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

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