Rejoice Always (May 4, 2012)

…Opening To…

Worship is a way of seeing the world in the light of God. (Abraham Joshua Heschel)

…Listening In…

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen. (The Gloria)

…Filling Up…

Our third moment in our 12 part series follows directly after the second moment. For most of the church year (excluding Advent and Lent), the familiar words above follow the Collect for Purity. They make up what is known as the “Gloria” (short for “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” which is just the first line in Latin). For much of the church’s history the Gloria actually came near the end of the service, rather than near the beginning. The Gloria does good work in either place – either as a culmination of our praise or an introduction to it. But the current Episcopal Book of Common Prayer puts it at the beginning, so it is in that location that we’ll discuss it.

At the beginning of the service, the Gloria helps us to remember the first reason why we worship. We worship because God’s very being draws praise from us. Our fundamental nature as children of God includes the instinct to worship, and when we come together on Sunday mornings, that instinct plays out – not because God needs to be flattered or appeased, but because God’s love causes us to desire to praise.

But this praise doesn’t end at the conclusion of the Gloria or at the conclusion of the service. By praising God with these words week in and week out, we exercise our praising muscles, which helps us to live by Paul’s instruction to “rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5). We say the Gloria each Sunday whether or not we feel much like praising God, whether or not there is much to rejoice about. When we praise even if we don’t feel much life praising, we are not being hypocrites. Rather, we are acknowledging a truth about life – that even in our darkest days, there is always a glimmer of light; that even when we are being crushed by the weight of dire circumstances, there is always some small reason for joy. Sometimes just a sliver, but that sliver is a tether to the God who never abandons us and will patiently wait until we are ready to praise again.

…Praying For…

Dear God, because of who you are you cause praise to spring to my lips. Help me to notice your presence in my life so that I can be reminded to rejoice always in every situation, even when the joy is so hard to find. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, ready to order my life around your movement in it and hopeful that you will continue to show me the way.

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