Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Sacrifice of Praise

 "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise..."  Hebrews 13:15

We have been using "Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals" this year in our home.  I'm looking forward to sharing the lessons I'm learning here in Germany, particularly the images and illustrations God is using for me to better understand His wildly-wonderful, maddeningly-human church.  For today though, I simply want to share a note from the devotion.  May you ponder, pray, and be blessed.

From Ordinary Radicals - August 17 - Morning ...
There is an old saying many Christians use:  "Offer the Lord a sacrifice of praise," referring to Hebrews 13:15.  In many circles this notion of a "sacrifice of praise" almost becomes cliche'.  (Perhaps because worship does not often come at much cost, especially compared with the sacrifices of saints who've gone before us.)  But when we worship with folks of various traditions, there are times when we may hear a prayer that uses language we might not naturally use or sing a song that isn't really our style.  That is part of what it means to be a member of a community as diverse as the church is.  And perhaps that also helps shed some light on why it might require some sacrifice for us to give up ourselves.

When a song isn't working for you, consider praising God, because that probably means it is working for someone else who is very different from you.  Offer your worship as a sacrifice rather than requiring others to sacrifice for your pleasure or contentment.  There is something to the notion of becoming one as God is one; it doesn't mean that we are the same; it just means that we are united by one Spirit.  After all, we can become one only if there are many of us to begin with.  Liturgy puts a brake on narcissism.  Certainly, there is something beautiful about contemporary worship, where we can take old things and add a little spice to them, like singing hymns to rock tunes or reciting creeds as spoken word rhymes.  But liturgy protects us from simply making worship into a self-pleasing act.  So if a song or prayer doesn't quite work for you, be thankful that it is probably really resonating with someone who is different from you, and offer a sacrifice of praise.

"...the fruit of lips that confess his name."  Hebrews 13:15
Wow... this is as convicting today as it was yesterday.  Self-pleasing.  Narcissism.  Words I don't typically associate with worship.  But I'm not sure how often I sacrifice as worship either.  Maybe God had to put me, a woman who strives for excellence, in a mobile role, so I could share in the communion of saints throughout His church - miles and traditions apart from the last community often times.  Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, Assembly of God, Presbyterian, Community...we've shared "family time" with many.  And I stand amazed and grateful always, for the privilege of witnessing God's diversity.  And sorrowful that so many, even within the church, consider different denominations different religions.  Catholics and Protestant, different religions.  I look to the day when He destroys, finally, the divisions of His people.  That we may live into the "One" of promise - "Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family.  So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers."  Hebrews 2:11

Ponder, pray, and be blessed.  

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