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1 & 2 January 2022 (Pastoral Page) LET US BEGIN WITH THE DOXOLOGY!

By Asst Ps Gift Daniel

How does one start a new year when uncertainty and disrupted calendars seem to be the way of life expected? The pandemic has indeed thrown us on a curveball, with each year passing muddling our visibility for the journey ahead. While the reality of uncertainty remains, it has made me ponder the questions of life amidst it. I have not arrived at a conclusive answer that speaks to all of our anxieties. Nevertheless, I believe that singing and meditating on Doxology as a community could offer us the peace, hope and joy to navigate the year to come, however uncertain it may be.

Doxology is simply defined as "a usually liturgical expression of praise to God" according to the Dictionary. The word comprises two Greek words, doxa meaning glory and logos meaning words. Since the early church, the tradition includes doxologies as the means of expression and worship of God. The Bible likewise records for us several doxologies (See Eph 1:3; Eph 5:14; Rom 11:36).

The apostle Paul particularly encourages the use of Doxology in a Christian community in Eph 5:19-20: "speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing, and making music with your heart to the Lord." The traditional Doxology used in the Protestant Churches was written in 1674, England:

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow

Praise Him, all creatures here below

Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Host.

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

For the intents of this pastoral page, I have chosen to briefly explore four elements of the Doxology that would enable internalising and contemplating effectively.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow

The Doxology begins with a call to acknowledge that the giver of all blessings is God alone. Praising God is an enduring word centred around God's unchanging nature and that which shapes the postures and desires of our hearts. Given the ever-changing circumstances of our life, God's attribute of the unchangeableness of who He is a refreshing anchor indeed. There is no complete understanding of his ways and goodness on this side of the world within our limited human capacities. Nonetheless, the goodness of God far exceeds human comprehensibility and uncertain reality. Therefore, the call to praise God is an invitation to affirm the goodness of God despite our lack of understanding. Praising God not only is an acknowledgement of who God is but also a reinforcement to our souls to be aligned to the truth. Praising God changes the heart and soul of the one who praises; it synchronises our hearts with the truth of who God is. The beginning of the Doxology is thus a firm reminder that the object of our praise is the only source of goodness and blessings in this life.

Praise Him, all creatures here below

Once we centre our hearts around the truth of Who God is, we are also called to realise who we are. The creation account in Genesis portrays the beauty of all of God's creation which he declared as good until sin entered and marred that beauty. All of God's creation is in pain because of sin (See. Rom.8:22)— a pain like that includes the ongoing pandemic of our times. All creation eagerly waits for God's full redemption and glory to be revealed. While as we, those created by God, endure the pain of this world, we praise God because he deserves it and because the hope of redemption is made possible through him alone. We praise him while engaging with all our senses—sights, sounds, taste, touch and smells— all of what we feel or sense to praise him. As creatures created by God, we affirm the pain of this world and the deepest longings of our hearts, and while we wait, we praise Him.

Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Host

As creatures below, we are not alone in praising God; we are joining the heavenly host in the concerted praise. There is a persistent, ongoing, never ceasing rhythm of praise, a worship band, going on in the heavens singing —"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty..." Praising God on earth is a glimpse of heaven, a foretaste of heaven on earth. There will come a day when all heavens and all the earth alike in unison will praise God in a way that would unwind our hearts to fully acknowledge that God is truly the one who deserves all praise (Rev.4:11). As we wait for the complete unison of all our praises—the songs of the heavenly hosts and the creatures below echoing all eternity, we will praise the Sustainer of the Universe.

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

Finally, we arrive at praising the Trinitarian God. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost for their unique ministry to us. The Father, our creator, Sustainer of life, sovereignly holding the course of all life, history and the world. Our heavenly Father intimately knows and understands human fragility, human nature, the needs of our lives here on earth. Therefore, we praise the Father. The Father's ultimate expression of who is and was revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, The Son our Rescuer, who gave his own life. The Son, God incarnate, took upon the human form, endured human suffering and surrendered himself to die at the hand of his own creation. The Son be praised for his sacrifice, death and resurrection of our hope. God, The Holy Ghost — is an indwelling comforter and guide. The unique ministry of the Holy Spirit is to intercede for us and groan on our behalf when our words fail to express pain. He empowers us amidst our brokenness. Therefore, Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

May we sing, reflect and re-affirm the Doxology as individuals and as a community as we navigate through the uncertainties of 2022 to come!

Please say with me, "Praise God, from whom all blessings flow."

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