Praise God from whom all blessing flowThe Right Reverend Thomas Ken (1637-1711), alt.
Praise God all creatures here below
Praise God above the heavenly host
Praise God and Word and Holy Ghost.
You probably recognize these words in some form as what we call “the Doxology,” that is, words of thanks and praise to God for everything. Thanks and praise to God is, of course, on my mind as I think about the Thanksgiving holiday.
And in these times of ours, I can’t help but think of teacher and minister Fred Craddock’s sermon entitled “Doxology,” that was delivered on the Sunday following the death of his brother. And so, in what follows, I offer a condensed version of that sermon (told as a kind of story) to you today because it’s meant so much to me over the years as I’ve tried to stay in touch with thanksgiving and praise to the source of all in good times and in bad.
In his sermon, Craddock imagines a kind of companion he calls “Doxology” that tries to accompany him wherever he goes.
It starts with Craddock at his own dinner table with Doxology sitting there along with Craddock’s wife and children one night. Craddock asks his teenage children some of those typical questions that parents ask their teenagers, and the teenagers do whatever they can not to answer the questions. But after a while, everyone relaxes over the food and shares a little bit about their day. Everyone talks and gets reconnected. Based on this, the family agrees. Doxology belongs at their table.
Then, the next day, Craddock decides to take Doxology with him as he runs his errands around town. He notices that having Doxology with him changes how he sees the world around him. And he thinks to himself: “It’s good to have Doxology around when I’m out doing things.”
Craddock then goes to visit a woman who’s dying in the hospital. Because of the seriousness of the visit, Craddock decides to leave Doxology in the car. Once in the hospital room, though, he finds that the woman he’s visiting is, much to his surprise, filled with thanksgiving for the life she has led. In fact, she ends up praying for him at the end of the visit.
When Craddock goes back to the car, Doxology asks him: “Should I have been there?”
“Yes,” Craddock answers. “I’m sorry. I did not understand.”
Then Craddock takes Doxology on vacation with his family. Doxology is there at the adventures and the meals and the togetherness. After the vacation, the whole family concludes, “There’s no question about it. Doxology belongs on vacation.”
When it’s time to return to his job teaching classes to seminary students, Craddock wonders about whether to take Doxology into the class he’s teaching on the Book of Romans. After all, is Doxology even needed among people engaged in studying and talking about God?
It’s there in his class that Craddock notices something in Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Right in the middle of talking about something else, Paul just breaks off and starts to sing:
“Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom of the knowledge of God,” Paul croons. “From God, and through God and in God are all things. To God be the glory forever.”
About this, Craddock concludes, “Paul is aware that Doxology is deeply appropriate to (his) task as a theologian. (For) theology begins with words not about God but to God.” And so, “breaking into a song of praise, in any circumstance, at any moment, inviting Doxology into our lives, in any circumstance, at any moment, is appropriate.”
Craddock then says:
“It was from (this very) class on Romans that I was called to the phone.
“My oldest brother had just died. Heart Attack.
“All night, we drove across two states, eyes pasted open against the windshield. Conversation was spasmodic, consisting of taking turns asking the same questions over and over. No one pretended to have answers. When we drew near the town and the house, I searched my mind for a word, a first word, to the widow. He was my brother. He was her husband. I was still searching (for a word) when we pulled up into the driveway. She came out to meet us, and as I opened the car door, still without having found a word, she broke the silence.
“‘I hope you brought Doxology,’ she said.
“No, I had not. I had not even thought of Doxology since the phone call.
“But the truth is now clear: If we ever lose Doxology, if we ever lose thanksgiving and praise, we might as well be dead.
“For ‘from God, and through God and in God are all things. To God be the glory forever.’”
My best wishes to you, to your family and friends, and to your community on Thanksgiving.
—The Most Reverend Melissa Skelton, Bishop Provisional of the Diocese of Olympia
The Most Reverend Melissa Skelton
The Most Reverend Melissa Skelton is the Bishop Provisional in the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia. The diocese voted to place itself under the authority of Bishop Skelton at the Diocese of Olympia’s 2022 Diocesan Convention.
Read more about Bishop Skelton on the website of the Diocese of Olympia.
Church of the Redeemer
Church of the Redeemer: Worshiping God, living in community, and reaching out to the world around us. We are an Episcopal Church serving north King County and south Snohomish County, Washington. As you travel your road, go with friends walking the way of Jesus at Redeemer.
Church of the Redeemer is at 6210 Northeast 181st Street in Kenmore, Washington. The campus is a short distance north of Bothell Way, near the Burke-Gilman Trail. The entrance looks like a gravel driveway. The campus is larger on the inside than it is on the outside. And we managed to hide a large building on the side of a hill that is not easily seen from the street.
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