Remembering to Praise
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you. – Psalm 67:3 (NRSV)
Three years ago today—May 24, 2016—was an ordinary day. Some pundits will advise you live every day as if it is your last. Three years ago today was not my last day on earth, but it was the last day of a certain kind of innocence I will never get back.
The next day, May 25, 2016, I woke to the news that the church I was serving was on fire at the hand of an arsonist. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the many emotions and activities of that day, but right now I’m thinking about the day before, a day that is lost in memory.
May 24, 2016 was a Tuesday, the day I usually begin prepping for a sermon the following Sunday, so maybe I did that. My calendar remembers that I had, as is too often the case, scheduled two things at the same time. Did I attend the church meeting or the school band concert? Did I leave one early to arrive late to the next one? Did I remind my kid that I love him? Did I notice the riotous joy of early summer? Who did I greet? For what did I offer thanks? How did I pray? Honestly, I don’t know.
I hope I listened to the psalmist and praised God that day for something, even if it was only a little something. Too often I forget to praise God and get terribly occupied with incredibly important things. Things that later I can’t even remember.
But if this was the last day before tomorrow, what else should I be doing but praising God?
God! Dear God! I praise you! Amen.
Jennifer Brownell is the Pastor of First Congregational Church of Vancouver, Washington, and the author of Swim, Ride, Run, Breathe: How I Lost a Triathlon and Caught My Breath, her inspiring memoir.