Praise Sermon Fr. Hugh St. George 9/22/13 Psalm 113.
A former Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rt. Hon. Robert Runcie got on
the train one morning at Charing Cross station. Since he was going the opposite
way from the rush hour traffic, it looked like he was going to have the
compartment all to himself. So he sat back, relaxed and opened his newspaper.
A minute later a large group of people filled the compartment. It quickly became
apparent that this was a group of mentally challenged people on a special day’s
A young man stood up and started counting heads. 1,2,3,4, and he pointed at The
Most Rev. Robert Runcie and said, “Who are you?”
He said “I’m the Archbishop of Canterbury”
The other day I was in a beachside restaurant in St. Augustine when a storm
It rained really hard and loudly for about five minutes; and then just as suddenly it
was quiet and there was a perfect complete rainbow arching over the sea. Everyone
‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’ and made appreciative comments.
Whenever we see a rainbow, or a beautiful sunset, or a magnificent fireworks
display, it quite naturally evokes a response of awe and praise in us.
But sometimes it's easier to praise the rainbow than it is to praise the Creator of
The difficulties of our lives can muddy our perception and keep us from praising
Our Psalm today starts off on a positive note: “Hallelujah. Give praise you
servants of the Lord. Praise the name of the Lord.”
Many of the psalms are expressions of praise to God. Praise is a positive spirit that
lifts us up, at the same time that we lift God up.
We’ve probably all done this. You’re watching your child or grandchild climbing
up a wall. Then ¾ of the way up they get afraid and they freeze. What do you say?
It’s the same for us as we face obstacles in our life, whether it’s sickness, or
“Don’t look down. Look up - Look up and Praise the name of the Lord.”
One of the things that we all have to learn in life, is that there are a lot of things
that you might not necessarily feel like doing, but you have to do them anyway. So
you learn to get a grip on yourself and do it.
As a mother you might not always have felt like cooking dinner for your little
darlings, but you just did it. As a professional person, there may have been many
mornings when you didn’t feel like going to work, but you did.
There might be a few people here who just a couple of hours ago did not feel like
getting out of bed and getting dressed this morning to come to church, but you did.
You know that feeling tired, or feeling sorry for yourself is something that you just
have to overcome, and the sooner you do it the better.
Many, if not most people here, have at some time had an injury or a surgery that
required that you do Physical Therapy. And you know that physical therapy is just
Then, just when it gets to the place where it doesn’t hurt quite as much, your
therapist wants to ramp it up, so it hurts all over again.
It’s counter intuitive to want to do something that hurts, but if you have any sense,
you do it, because you know it’s going to help you get better.
After WWII one of my father’s duties in the British Army was to teach soldiers
how to drive in snow and icy conditions. Later when I was a teenager he taught
Some of the instruction is counter-intuitive; particularly the instruction to “turn
into the direction of the skid, not away from it.”
Years later in Northern California I told Khara about what my father had taught me
Then one weekend, back when she and I were youth ministers, we were each
driving a van to take our youth group on a skiing trip.
Lucky for us, once we got high up in the Sierra mountains, we ran into a blizzard.
Khara had six teenagers with her in her van, as she started to drive over the bridge
at Donner Pass, 220 feet up above the gorge. Suddenly she lost control of the
She heard my voice inside her head saying, ‘turn into the skid’. She turned into the
direction of the skid, and regained control and ended up facing the right way, on
the outside shoulder lane, really close to the edge.
As she was looking down at the drop, she took a deep breath. Then one of the boys
“Wow, Mrs. Bromiley. That was really cool. Do that again.”
Often you don’t feel like getting up, doing the dishes, cleaning the house, washing
the car, or going to the gym, but you do it, and later you feel better for having done
It’s the same with praising God. You can probably find a lot of reasons for not
praising God. “My expenses keep going up, but my income doesn’t. I have aches
and pains in parts of my body I never even thought about before. Half of my
friends aren’t here any more. The other half of my friends can’t hear any more.”
Today’s psalm encourages us to praise the Lord. But the truth is sometimes we
We might be in pain; or we might be sad; we might have suffered some
We might have looked in the mirror this morning and realized, “Gosh. I don’t look
“Praise the Lord, if you feel like it.”
They say “Praise the Lord - anyway.”
There have been many remarkable, inspirational stories about Prisoners of War
who survived captivity and kept their sanity and kept hope alive - and they did it
Nothing about their situation made them feel like praising God, but they did it
As we say every Sunday in the Eucharistic prayer.
8.00 “That we should at all times and in all places give thanks unto Thee.”
10.00 “It is right to give Him thanks and Praise.”
I was talking recently to a woman who runs a pizza place. She’s Italian, not
surprisingly, and Catholic, and she was saying how she teaches her children to say
She said they’re little and we don’t do the ‘Thees and Thous,’ but we always say,
‘Thank you Jesus for the food we’re about to eat and for all our blessings.’
Praising God puts us into closer touch with Him, day by day, moment by moment.
A few hundred years ago a famous Christian mystic, by the name of Meister
Eckhart, dedicated his entire life to prayer and spiritual contemplation. His works
are still read today. After years of a profoundly deep personal prayer life he came
to this poignant, yet delightfully simple conclusion:
‘If there was only one prayer you ever said, it should be – “Thank You, Lord.”’
Of the 1,440 minutes we have in a day how many of them do you spend saying
“Thank you” to God, or, “I praise your holy Name?”
When things aren’t going well for is it feels counter intuitive to praise God. But the
best thing to do, is to praise God anyway.
As we praise God, we discover incredible benefits for our lives. That's because
when we praise God we’re being true to ourselves.
God created us to be people of love, expressing that love to each other; and in
praise of our Creator. We really need to thank and praise God. It’s in our DNA.
Praising God takes our focus off our selves and puts it onto God, His love, and His
Praising God is the fastest way to get to feel His Presence.
Praise is the best mood elevator available.
It’s better than Prozac or Valium or Xanax, or anything else they try to sell you on
It’s free and it has no unpleasant side effects.
Praising God always makes you feel better.
I know of no other way that results in such a quick change of mood than praising
God. The more we praise God the closer we get to God.
“Going to church, and praising God is very good for your mental and physical
They wrote the “Handbook of Religion and Health” which documents the benefits
of praising God and being in right relationship with Him.
I have always liked this statement from an English writer, Sir Oliver Lodge. He
wrote: “Surely it cannot be that the instinct that impelled men to build
magnificent Cathedrals and Churches all over Europe was wholly mistaken! There
must be some great truth underlying the instinct for worshipping the Almighty
In my experience Christians who are most alive and enthusiastic have somehow
realized this truth – that believing in God and praising and thanking Him – are
extremely important, no matter how good, or how bad the circumstances of your
When we praise and worship, we thank God for who He is and what He has done
and continues to do for us. It’s important that our worship is authentic and full of
Even though I feel tired I praise the Lord.
Even though I feel sad, I praise the Lord
Even though I’m worried I praise the Lord.
Even though I have pain I praise the Lord.
So it goes beyond praising God in Church.
The more important issue is whether God is exalted in our lives, in our homes and
in our day to day interactions with people.
There’s no time like the present – and today is as good a day as any to resolve to
rise above the circumstances of your life;
and to commit yourself to more completely honoring the Lord God, and to praise
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