One of the most entertaining aspects of having a 4 year old daughter of a certain make and model is her regular use of binary statements – such as, ‘This is the best day ever!’ or ‘You are the most wonderfullest daddy in the world!’ While I have, more than once, found solace and joy in these compliments, I am often reminded that there is another side that comes out when she is angry or being punished: ‘You are the worst daddy in the world!’ or ‘I’m never going to talk to you ever again!’
While talk may be cheap, it is certainly on sale quiet regularly with preschool girls.
The fact is, cheap talk surrounds us – especially in churches. I am routinely reminded of the cut-rate value of my words when singing hymns I don’t like or praying prayers that are too long. Sure, I try to pay attention and mean them, but I don’t always do so.
This is why I think the best praise we give God doesn’t come from what we sing or say, but what we do.
I think God is most deeply praised by the things we do for others. I think the hymn of hard work so many in our congregation do for the South Oakland Shelter, Haiti Outreach Mission, and God’s Garden, just to name a few, is a fragrant offering of love to a God who is love.
As far as we know, Jesus lived a life of perfect praise to God. This Sunday we will hear the story of him feeding 5,000 people. In fact, stories of healing and aid abound in the Gospels compared to the number of times we hear of Jesus singing songs of praise. Jesus is offering his praise by doing the reconciling work of God.
If Jesus shows us that helping others is praise to God, how do you and I ‘Go and do likewise?’