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Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise Him, all creatures here below…

The Doxology has been going over and over in my head these past two days, and I have been praying to God for the Spirit to help me know why I have this song on repeat! Could it be the absolutely divine (and may I say welcome) break in the Delaware heat - which rivals Chicago’s! Could it be that I am seeing St. Stephen’s beginning to discover not only their potential to be a mission focused church, but actually seeing the sparks of new creation within our community? Could it be that the Spirit has rested with me since I arrived letting me know that there are great things ahead for us at our beloved church?

I would have to say yes.

Yet, it seems that the Doxology has a happier message than what we have been seeing in our world and our own community.

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.

We do struggle at our church with the changes in pastoral leadership and the direction the church is heading. We struggle with the search for a new musician to fill the vacancy left by our Music Director Emeritus Dan - and we struggle with illness publicly - and for some, the struggle is private and hidden away.

And don’t get me started on the violence surrounding us.

Trying to understand the juxtaposition of the lyrics in the hymn and the realities confronting us, I went to the next best thing outside of prayer - Google.

Did you know the Doxology is just a very, very small part of a much larger hymn!?

It’s about waking up from a night’s sleep. It’s about praising God for waking to another day, filled with the joy of what is possible in God.

Awake, my Soul, and with the Sun, Thy daily Stage of duty run, Shake off dull Sloth, and joyful rise, To pay thy Morning Sacrifice.

Amongst even the darkest times in our corporate lives at St. Stephen’s, and even in the darkness that we individually dwell, we have hope as bright as the morning sun. The light that Christ brought to us in his life, death, and resurrection is also the light we carry.

By influence of the Light divine,

Let thy own light to others shine.

Reflect all Heaven’s propitious ways

In ardent love, and cheerful praise

I have begun to think that the Doxology was playing in my head for all the reasons listed above - both the good and especially the bad. With all the sadness that surrounds us we can loudly proclaim the goodness and greatness of God our Father. We can do this, simply because of the Grace of Jesus Christ. In that Grace we discover the light as bright as the morning sun being poured over us and all creation - a reminder that we are never alone. A reminder that the sparks of new creation at St. Stephen’s are perhaps like the sparks that brought the universe into being with a single Word from God. And God said it was good.

I believe so deeply in my soul that God knows St. Stephen’s is good. I can see it in the goodness of the people welcoming my family into the church, I can see it in the open arms and tables that we have been invited into. I especially can see it in the eyes of those that come up for communion on Sunday - the beautiful eyes of St. Stephen’s church.

The hymn goes on for over ten verses, but I want to share just one more. As we continue to grow from these new sparks of creation, as we put ourselves out there in places like Peace Week, Cool Springs, Lutheran Community Services, and more. I invite you to take note of the good work you do. I also invite those that have been waiting to join in the mission God has given us to let us know how you would like to volunteer and be part of this wonderful new chapter. As we grow together let us remember that it is through relationships, listening deeply, and opening our hearts to the newness of God’s ever changing creation that we will find more and more ways to praise God.

In conversation be sincere;

Keep conscience as the noontide clear;

Think how all seeing God thy ways

And all thy secret thoughts surveys.

Be sincere. Hold one another in conversation AND prayer. Open your hearts to God and bear with me for just one more verse:

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.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Jason

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