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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, May 6, 2020  

Today’s Hymn

Holy, holy, holy! though the darkness hide thee,
though the eye of sinfulness thy glory may not see,
only thou art holy; there is none beside thee,
perfect in power, in love and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All they works shall praise thy name, in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, holy, holy! merciful and mighty!
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

“Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!” (vv. 3–4) by Reginald Heber
Hymn 1, Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

Why does God seem to need so much praise? I mean, it’s like this requirement, “always be praising the Lord.” Seems a little insecure to me, this constant need for affirmation from the underlings. God is already pretty high above us, is it really necessary for us say, “Whoa, God, you’re so great?” You know, I’m glad that my cat likes me, but I don’t have this “always be purring and rubbing against my legs” requirement.

Maybe I’ve been inside too much lately.

The thing is, praise is as much for us as for God, if not more. When I go to a museum and see a sculpture by Bernini and I say, “Wow, that’s amazing!” it’s not like Bernini needs to hear that from me. But my response, my expression of wonder, is the point of the whole experience. There is a moment where I am more alive, and I feel it, and expressing it makes the experience real. If I don’t acknowledge my own sense of wonder, the experience doesn’t last. It withers and dies. Instead of being uplifted, I am dragged down by my own insignificance.

It’s really easy these days to lose that sense of wonder at the miracle of existence. So much of our time now seems defined by what we can’t do. So much of our gratitude (when we think to express it) seems to be rooted in a feeling akin to “Thank God I am not like those other people, the ones who have it worse.” Which is a funky kind of gratitude, really. Praise reminds us to affirm the wonder and promise of our very existence. While the devil may be in the details, God is in the holistic miracle that we are here at all.

Right now, maybe more than ever, it’s important to acknowledge that miracle: to look out a window and see new leaves on the trees and flowers starting to bloom, to relish the beauty of sunshine, to take joy in the things that remind us that life always overcomes, always renews itself. It’s a beautiful thing, and it’s grace given to us in hard times.

So look for these moments of beauty and grace. Acknowledge them. Say so.

Affirmation. It’s good for what ails you.

Lord, it is a miracle that we are here at all. It’s amazing, this work you have done. Remind us that wonder is powerful medicine for despair and sustains us through hard times. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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