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Psalm 30

 

I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me. O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit. Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. As for me, I said in my prosperity, "I shall never be moved." By your favor, O LORD, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed. To you, O LORD, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy: "What profit is there in my death,if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me! O LORD, be my helper!" You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!(ESV)

 

Glory to God

Monday of Lent 4

16 March 2015

Why do we worship God? God has no need of our adulation. He is not a lover starving for the praise of His beloved. He has no lack that we could supply. For to be God means that He is complete in Himself. What could you give God that He would desire. It is like finding out that Bill Gates is on your Christmas gift giving list. What could you buy him that he needs? And yet by comparison our God is at least as far above us as we are above worms. What could we buy God that He really needs? What would we desire from worms? What adulation provided by worms would be delightful to us? Even the questions are ridiculous.

 

When I was a child, I enjoyed watching the cats that my grandmother fed at the back porch of their farm house. I was fascinated by the antics of these half-wild felines. Some mornings we would get the door of porch only to find the carcass of a field mouse dropped on the threshold. Curious, I asked, "Grandma, why would the cats leave the mouse here?" "Well, the cats think they are giving us something we want." "Eww! Why would the cats think that we would want a dead mouse?" Why indeed? When we have the temerity to think that we have offered God something He needs from us by doing good works for Him, we have acted like the cat that leaves a dead mouse on the threshold of our back door. The question then is why would we bother with an established worship form at all? If God doesn't need it, who does?

 

Why bother with worship? We need it. And God needs it, but only for our sakes. All that He does, He does for us; including the establishment of worship forms and their attendant ceremonies. Philip Melanchthon makes this point in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession: "Ceremonies should be celebrated to teach people Scripture, that those admonished by the Word may conceive faith and godly fear, and may also pray" (Ap 12.3). These goals are entirely centered on our need for instruction in the Word of God. Our worship is for our benefit. This is why God requires it of us. It is something like the long suffering mother who insists that her eight-year-old washes dishes as part of his daily chores. It takes her far longer to clean up after this spectacle, then for her to do the dishes herself. But she understands that the requirement to do the dishes is beneficial to the child.

 

We are commanded to glorify God, not for His sake, but for ours. By putting His Word upon our lips in the holy liturgy, He is stitching them upon our hearts. All that God does, He does for our sakes, even the command to offer worship is for our blessing. When my children were young, they often gave handmade gifts to me at my birthday. Sometimes these gifts were quite primitive and ultimately useless; assembled with adhesive tape and construction paper. Yet, these gifts were and are especially precious to me, not for their usefulness to me but, as signs and tokens of my children's respect and love for their father. They were learning what it meant to honor a parent according to the fourth commandment. Such an act of worship, given in faith, is received by our Father even in heaven for Christ's sake that we may be built up in that faith. It is a great glory to us to speak words and sing songs of glory to God returning to Him His own Word; giving back to God what He has first given to us. This is glory to God.

 

John Chrysostom

 

"Even if there were no reward, the privilege of glorifying God would be itself a glory. For if men take pride in the mere fact of speaking the praises of kings, even if there is no other benefit in it; consider how glorious it must be that our Lord is glorified by us. And again, see how great a punishment there would be if we cause Him to be blasphemed. And yet this very glorification He wills to be brought about for our sakes. He does not need it Himself.

 

"What distance do you suppose is between God and man? Is it as great as that between humans and worms? Is it as great as the distance between angels and worms? But when have I mentioned a distance even so great? I have not expressed it at all, because to express its greatness is impossible. Would you, now, wish to have a great and marked reputation among worms? Surely not. If then you, who love your own glory, would not wish for a good reputation among worms, why would you think that He who is far removed from this desire, and so much farther above us, stands in need of glory from you? Nevertheless, even though he does not stand in need of your glorification, still He says that He desires it for your sake. For if He became a slave for your sake, why should you wonder that He lays claim for the same reason to the other similar particulars also? For He counts nothing unworthy of Himself which may be conducive to our salvation."

 

John Chrysostom,  Homilies on Romans, 8.6

 

Prayer

Almighty and eternal God, we adore You as the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and with the whole Church on earth and the whole heavenly host we ascribe to You honor and blessing, thanksgiving and praise. Holy, holy, holy are You, Lord God Almighty; heaven and earth are full of Your glory. You created us in Your own image and redeemed us with the precious blood of Your Son. By Your Spirit You sanctified us and called us out of darkness into Your marvelous light. Amen.

 

For Anastasia and Dorothea Moerbe, who were born prematurely, that God would give them strength and that their parents would have peace

 

For the family of Cathy Hagmann, whom the Lord took from this valley of sorrow, that they would be comforted by the confession of the resurrection of the flesh and the life of the world to come

 

For the family of Ingo Dutzmann, whose home was destroyed by an explosion and fire, that they would be strengthened and comforted by the God who preserved them

 

For those who are suffering the losses and struggles of increasing age, that the Lord Jesus would give them peace and strength

 

For the boards and committees of Memorial Lutheran Church, that they would rejoice in the privilege of serving God's people to the glory of Christ

 

For those who travel, that their sojourns would be safe and their homecomings joyful

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Isenheim Altarpiece (1515)

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