If a visitor from another planet attended a service of Christian worship anywhere in the world, he wouldn't have to be especially perceptive to discover that praise is the very essence of our worship.
If this visitor came to an Episcopal Church service of Holy Communion, he would hear it referred to as our "sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving." We have a service of morning prayer at which the priest turns to the congregation and says, "Praise the Lord," and the people respond, "The Lord's name be praised." Our visitor might hear, "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation," "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven," or "Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow." Praise is so much a part of worship that to praise God means to worship him.
I want to talk about praise and worship. I do that because this is a service of worship, and I've found it a good idea to stop and ask ourselves what we're doing, and why.
Praise is an expression of enjoyment
Praise is one of those words I thought everyone understood until a student of mine came to me with great impatience, saying, "I could never praise a god who sits on some heavenly throne somewhere demanding the praise of his people. What kind of a god is that?" I'd never before thought of it like that. My young friend was considering the extravagant words of the Psalms. Over and over the psalmist enjoins us to praise the Lord, bless the Lord, magnify the Lord, or exalt the Lord. What kind of a god is it who has to be told a thousand times a day how great he is?
All of us know people who have to be assured of the beauty of their face or the truth of their ideas or the excellence of their virtue. We think there's something wrong with a person who has to be told over and ...
This sermon is available to PreachingToday.com members only.
Terry Fullam was the rector of St. Paul's in Darien, Connecticut, the author of seven books, and an internationally-renowned speaker on church renewal who conducted missions in more than 25 countries. To find out more about his biblical teaching ministry and to access his sermons, please go to the "Life on Wings" home page.