Doxology – “a short hymn of praise to God,” according to Wikipedia. I was thinking about this because Jan and I were talking Sunday about changing our “Song of Response” (our modernized term for “doxology.”) I imagine that some of you are aware that we change that sung response from time.
During World Mission month, In October, we have been using “For Fish and Poi” in that slot. In the Advent/Christmas season, we use the verse from “What Child Is This?” that begins “So bring him incense, gold and myrrh…” Other options have been the traditional “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” and “We Give Thee but Thine Own” (a personal favorite for both Jan and me.) Recently we have used the 5th stanza of “Rejoice, the Lord is King”:
Praise God who rules all worlds, the risen Christ adore.
Praise God the Spirit, Holy Fire, one God forevermore!
Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice give thanks and sing.
All my life in the church (which is, of course, ALL my life,) there has been some form of doxology at the point in the worship service when the offering is brought forth and prayed over. So, I have always associated “The Doxology” with gratitude and giving. Everyone knows that’s the offering song. It is interesting, then, to discover that the song is not necessarily about the offering, it is about praising God, which, of course, should be the focus of all our worship.
To me the obvious connection is in praising God for the ways in which we have been blessed and recognizing that whatever we give is a return, in gratitude and joy, for what we have received. Another of my favorite hymns sings:
There’s not a plant or flower below, but makes Thy glories known,
And clouds arise, and tempests blow, by order from Thy throne;
While all that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care;
And everywhere that we can be, Thou, God art present there.
Surely this recognition of God’s presence in our lives and throughout is
cause for gratitude and songs of praise.
We give Thee but Thine own,
Whate’er the gift may be;
All that we have is Thine alone,
A trust, O Lord, from Thee.
All that we have and are is a trust from God. What would our lives and the world around us be like if carried this concept into every aspect of our living? This concept fits well with the journey we have been on with Brian McLaren. Remember the starting place, God created all there is and called it good, including you and me. Then God invited us to share in God’s love and care for creation, including one another. This is foundational to our faith. The word we commonly use for this is stewardship.
We are co‐caregivers and sometimes even co‐creators with God. We are invited to look around to see the treasure that God has embedded in even the least of these. Elizabeth Barrett Browning reminds us of “every common bush afire with God.” I’ve mentioned before the artistry of our friend and colleague, Sue Yarborough, from New Community of Faith, who takes amazing photographs, close‐up, of the interior of flowers. At times the “God‐presence” in those photos is palpable. We used one particularly powerful one on the cover of our bulletin for Pentecost Sunday. We have responsibility both to care and share with God in the abundant and surpassing beauty and goodness of creation.
Now to the mundane. The above is preface, or maybe it’s grounding for this “Season of Gratitude.” We know that this is the time of year in which every non‐profit does some appeal for funding. Our mailboxes fill up with the letters and flyers. There is an assumption that holidays ahead breed a giving spirit. The church is no different.
This is the time of year when we appeal to you to support the church’s budget by making pledges for next year. It can be very awkward to ask others for money, but, because I believe in FBCPA and its ministry, I am not reticent to ask for your support. There are many good things happening here in ministry to and with this world so full of God. We have been faithful in our stewardship of our community and our facilities and I pray that we will continue in that faithfulness into the future God has for us. Remember, “We make the road by walking” and part of that journey is our financial support, the gifts we give back to God, because we have been so blessed that we want to bless others through the ministries of our congregation.
Is it too far‐fetched to think of our giving as “doxology” – a song of praise to God for all that God shares with us? I invite you to join me in a “Season of Gratitude” in which we open ourselves in every way – spiritually, compassionately, financially ‐ to praising God from the very core of our being. In gratitude to God for all we are and have, let us claim identity and practice as
“More light, more love, more life” – God bless and keep us, inspire us and guide us on this journey into God’s future.