Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Doxology

We frequently incorporate the Doxology as part of our weekly worship. We should probably do it more often, especially if doing so has the effect Zac Hicks says its repetition has on him. From "How the Doxology Shapes Us":
One drop of water on a rock has little effect, but a steady dripping will eventually wear a hole into a seemingly impenetrable stone. Singing the Doxology every week is like getting a steady drip of life-giving Trinitarian water over hardened hearts.

James K. A. Smith, in Desiring the Kingdom, reminds us that the very form and rituals of worship have a shaping effect on us.  We don’t just become more godly by learning the theology of the songs and imbibing the propositional content of the sermon.  Our desires and habits, as we move along the path of the liturgy, are shaped to more subconsciously and instinctively move along the direction of that path.   For instance, I have been in a context where I have experienced the same weekly liturgy of Confession, Assurance, and Repentance for over ten years now.  I now find that I have new instincts and desires when I slip into sin.  With nearly Pavlovian certainty, my heart drops to its knees, I acknowledge it before God, I preach the good news to my heart of God’s assurance of my pardon through Christ, and I find greater strength to turn and re-commit myself to God’s service.  Repeated liturgy makes you love it and live it every day of the week. There are many things that we could point out about the shaping effect of the Doxology. I will mention three.

First, the Doxology shapes us into whole worshipers.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
The first line gives us the “why” of worship (because of what He does).  But next is the “who.”  First, “all creatures” are summoned to God’s praise, and suddenly our minds are blown about the fact that worship is not merely a human activity.  It is an activity of all creation. ....

Second, the Doxology blows open the supernatural nature of worship.

When we begin worship, I will often start by reminding congregants that today’s worship attendance numbers are larger than they appear.  If the folks tallying our worship count were really being honest, every week, they’d write “myriads upon myriads.”  Revelation 4-5 reminds us that when we enter into gathered worship on earth, we step into the already moving stream of the perpetual worship of heaven – the elders, the heavenly beings, the white-robed martyrs, the saints that have gone before.  In the Doxology, we sing:
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host.
The Doxology does not allow us to tally worship attendance based on who is seen physically in the room.  We are forced outward and upward.  The Doxology shapes us into heavenly worshipers. ....

Third, the Doxology makes us a Trinitarian people.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Is the Trinity just an esoteric theological construct, or does it have existential import?  In other words, what good is it to us in our day to day lives that our God is one, yet three? To tease out just one implication, it reminds us that because God exists in interdependent community, so should we. .... [more]