David A. Davis
February 6, 2022
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We give you thanks, O Lord with a whole heart. A heart full of your love. A heart made fresh by your grace. A heart that knows what it means to be broken and hurt. Yes. A heart that has known the comfort of your Holy Spirit. A heart that has been renewed over and over again by the forgiveness of your Son, our Savior. We lift a whole heart before you in gratitude. A gratitude that spills from the heart and shapes the work of our hands in service to you. Thanksgiving that inspires the movement of our feet in the life of discipleship. Thanks that leaps from our lips not only in adoration but in the proclamation of your righteousness and justice in and to the broken world.
Before all the other gods it is to you that we sing praise, Holy One. There are so many gods, so much idolatry, so many things to worship that swirl around us all the time. Empires bow to the gods of power and might. The altar of wealth that is decorated with greed gets bigger and bigger and taunts us all the more. The idols shaped by the love of self, and the obsession with “what’s in it for me”, and demonization of the other never seem to go away. So many gods that scream at us and tempt us and haunt us. Yet, before them, surrounded by them, it is to you and you alone that we sing praise.
We not only sing and shout and praise you. We turn with our lives to bow down to your holiness. We turn to humbly fall at the foot of the throne of your majesty. We turn to your dwelling place to say thank you with our lives. The thanksgiving of our lives lived in response to your steadfast love and faithfulness. Your steadfast love and faithfulness made known to us in Christ Jesus. Our salvation revealed in the One carried in the ark of Mary’s womb. The One in whom you fullness was pleased to dwell. The One who took our same human flesh. God with us. Immanuel. Your Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Your dwelling place. We turn to your dwelling place to say thank you, Lord.
Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty. And Holy is your Word, the Lamb upon the throne. Alpha and Omega. Your Word from the beginning. You Word forever. Eternal Light. Never ending Love. Undying Hope. You above everything else. You beyond all things. You alone. Thanks be to God.
You see, on those days we need you most, you answer. The answer may not be from a burning bush or a voice calling in the night. The answer may not be clear to us, or that word we want to hear. And yes Lord, there are the days we’re not so sure your answered. Those nights when we’re absolutely certain you haven’t answered. Times that is feels like you’ve ghosted us. Like when 900,000 people have died in a pandemic and the urgent need of attention to the common good is lost amid feckless leadership and a ever-widening chasm fueled by bitterness and vitriol and hate. Like when our prayers for a loved one who is suffering are the most fervent prayers maybe in a lifetime and they don’t seem to make a difference. Like when the suffering of the poor and the hungry and the homeless in a nation, in a world that has do better while billionaires get attention by entertaining themselves with building rockets. We’re not going lie, Lord. There are those moments when it comes to your answer.
But the wordless answer of your presence shall never leave nor forsake us, even to the end of the age. We claim that promise and we live that promise because you have increased the strength of our souls. You have lodged within us a peace that that world can never give. The darkness of death has yet to overcome the light of resurrection hope and life in our lives. You have mended broken hearts and lifted broken spirits and tended to broken lives. We believe because we’ve seen it. We’ve lived it. We know it even more than we can say.
One day the royalty of this earth shall praise you, O Lord. The ones with such power. Those whose decisions can, in fact, change the world. Not just the leaders of nations but those with a wealth that staggers the imagination. Those who have reigned in power in the boardroom from generation to generation. Those who have scorched the earth for the sake of profit and success. Those who have created a ladder of success that thrives on keeping others down. Mary said that one day you would bring down the powerful from their thrones and lift up the lowly, that you would fill the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty. Maybe that’s what it will take but one day they shall praise you because they have heard the words of your mouth. They have heard the call of the prophets and teaching of Jesus and the vision of the world as you intend it. One day they shall sing the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord.
If your peace is not what the world gives, your glory is certainly not what the world expects. The world’s royalty, the world’s leaders, the world’s anointed, they have a different definition of greatness than you do God, For you, you are high and lifted up and exalted and yet you never forsake the lowly. Your concern, your preference, for the poor and the outcast has never wavered. And you, O Lord, can always perceive and sniff out arrogant, selfish pride. No, the world will never understand the greatness of the glory of the Lord. You who handed over your only begotten Son to the evils and wiles of the powers and principalities, bringing the victory of salvation not by power and might but by his selfless, dying love for the world. The Son of God who said over and over and over again, if you want to be first, you have to be last, if you want to be great, you have to be least. Indeed, the glory of the Lord revealed in the one this world put to death.
It is that same world in which we walk day in and day out, Loving God. Frankly, that pathway is not easy. Never has been. Never will be. To use the terms of the sacred page, it’s a wilderness road, Lord. Yes, a valley of the shadow of death. There is a lot of trouble to negotiate in our walk of faith these days. Our walk with you in the here and now. Yet, you will preserve us. You will reach out and deliver us. In the words of the psalmist you promise, “Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” You promise in the words of the Savior, “Come to me all who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest”. Yes Lord, yes. For it can seem like some days, most days, we’re surrounded by the wrath of the enemies of our life with you.
The wrath of our enemies. Yes, the magnitude of suffering and death near and far. Yes, the lust for guns, and non-stop mass shootings and drive by shootings and women who die at the hands of another in what is almost casually labeled “domestic violence”, innocent people killed by law enforcement and offers killed when simply responding to a call. Yes, in the midst of trouble, Lord, we surrounded by the wrath of our enemies. When historic black universities are threatened with bombs, and women’s rights to their bodies are taken away, and you can’t even offer water to people waiting in line to vote, trouble’s wrath of yester year never goes away. Preserve us again, stretch out your hand again, deliver us again, Lord. Do not forsake us as we trod along this bumpy, twisting pathway of way with you as the world’s evil snaps at our feet.
Still, God, fulfill your purpose for us. You have called us, shaped us as the Body of Christ, and sent us into the world you so love. Fulfill your purpose of righteousness, justice, and mercy in us. Your purpose of abundant and eternal life, in us. Your purpose of faith, hope and love, in us. For your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Allow your steadfast love to endure in and through us, forever.
Do not abandon the work of your hands, Gracious God. Do not abandon or forsake or turn away from the work of your hands. Your work of salvation and the promise of the peaceable kingdom, the kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Your work on behalf of the poor, and the oppressed, and the outcast, and the widow and the orphan, and the stranger, and the prisoner. Your work of creation, where it suffers from the destruction of humankind, where that which you called good has been marred by sin. Your creation where there are still places that sparkle with beauty like a the fresh morning dew on a crisp new day. Do not abandon or forsake or turn from the work of your hands. And most of all, or maybe better said, even more so, don’t give up on us. For we are yours, you called us by name and know the number of the hairs on our head. We are your beloved, children of God. Yes, we are. And you, you are always greater than our hearts. So don’t forsake us, the work of your hands.
Accept this our sacrifice of thanks and praise.
And at the end of day, and the end of life, God, what it all comes down to, is this:
Thank you Lord, thank you Lord, thank you Lord. We just want to you Lord.