“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Hallelujah!” (Ps. 150:6).
The Final Day of the General Convention. The final verse of the last psalm in the Psalter may be a fitting place for us to end these meditations. At the end of a week and a half of activity deputies and bishops may have trouble catching their breath after days of breathless activity. God willing, all will be able to take a breather before the resumption of the ordinary round. We want at all times to be filled with the breath of God, the Holy Spirit at work in us and in the world.
The last word in the verse is instructive. “Hallelujah” is the imperative Hebrew form of the word for “Praise the Lord”. In other words, it’s an invitation to praise God, addressed by one worshiper to another. “Come, join us in praising God.” As Lauren Winner reminded us in her talk on evangelism earlier in the Convention, the invitation we address to others to join in the praise of the Beloved as worshipers is at the heart of evangelism.
The praise of God is perhaps the essential tool we need as the Convention ends. No matter what our circumstances, praise is the form of prayer that fits our need. Whatever the situation, the praise of God is always appropriate. If we’re joyful, then thanks are due to God and flow naturally. If uncertain or grief stricken, then it’s all the more necessary to give thanks to the Giver of all gifts, even the ones we don’t understand. If we are feeling exhausted, or even spiritually “dry”, then praise will “prime the pump” of our prayer to God. When all else fails in our prayer, even our own petitions for ourselves or our intercession for others, we can find within ourselves a capacity for praise.
I leave you with this: “To feel what the Church should be, is to long that it be so.” These words were written by Dr. Edward Bouverie Pusey in 1842, in his Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, an open letter urging reform in the Church of England and a reclaiming of neglected gifts. Pusey caught the mood of many who hoped great things for the church in a time when that result seemed unlikely. We too hope great things for the church and for the mission we’ve been given. We all feel how things should be and we long for them. May God use our capacity for praise to increase our capacity for hope as members of the church. Hallelujah!
- Bishop John