Okay, here is something a little different. I was thinking about praise the other day, you know like Praise the Lord sort of praise.
I’ve spent nearly all of my life in some sort of church where praise and worship were essential elements of the experience. The prayers and liturgy of the Catholic and Episcopal Churches, the hymns and Psalms in the Evangelical Churches, the praise choruses, hand clapping, hand raising, dancing, and falling down in Charismatic churches.
Now as a Quaker, my worship is silent. Rarely a song, hardly a word, I sit in silence and stillness before God, yielding my body, my life, my mind, my actions, listening for that still small voice of the Spirit.
Thinking about my history as a worshiper, some questions arose for me.
What if our praise was limited? What if we only had so much to give and each week we ended up blowing our whole wad at a church service? What if Jesus did not want to be praised so much? What if our praise were actually physically hunks of our expression that we hurled up to heaven?
My response is the following poem. You can hear me read it. The words are below.
Praised to Death
Jesus crouches in the corner–shackled, blood splattered
with the cheers of a thousand primates who demand Right Order.
Crown Him with Many Crowns
Heap upon Him constant, clanging praise,
Title upon Title.
Worship, kneel, grovel.
He crumples under the weight.
He cries out from under the pile of worship
Raised and lifted up.
Worshipers, depleted by their worship,
Little praise left for themselves or others,
They trudge home.
While Jesus suffocates under a mountain of unwanted, unneeded adoration,
crying out from under the load,
Father Forgive Them They Know Not What They Do.
They crucify afresh the son of man,
and die daily with him, ignoring the promise of living waters,
of greater works they could do.
King of the Jews, silenced by praise,
Silent except for his weeping.
But who hears? Who cares?
As the Hillsongs blare
and Organs roar,
the SHOUT goes up,
the murmured mumbled rosary rumbles along.
Thank you, Lord!
Oh come let us adore Him.
Praise, praise, praise Him into submission.
We praise Him to death.