In addition to teaching at Villanova University, this year I am also taking courses from Duke Divinity School. An assignment for one of those courses involves reflecting on Psalm 145. Here, I expand on that assignment.
Of particular interest to me is v. 10: “Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD, and let your faithful ones bless you” (NAB). All of creation is invited / summoned to give thanks to God; the “faithful ones bless” God.
The Preface for Eucharistic Prayer IV describes the situation differently:
It is truly right to give you thanks, truly just to give you glory, Father, most holy, for you are the one God living and true, existing before all ages and abiding for all eternity, dwelling in unapproachable light; yet you, who alone are good, the source of life, have made all that is, so that you might fill your creatures with blessings and bring joy to many of them by the glory of your light. And so, in your presence are countless hosts of Angels, who serve you day and night and, gazing upon the glory of your face, glorify you without ceasing. With them we, too, confess your name in exultation, giving voice to every creature under heaven as we acclaim . . .
In this Preface, the “faithful ones” gathered in assembly give voice to the rest of creation. All of creation is present, so to speak, but only human beings are thanking and praising God in their own right (one might also add: “in their own rite”). True, there are places in Scripture where creation praises God in its own right. According to the NRSV, the trees in Psalm 96:12 “sing for joy,” for example.
Worship invites us to consider the ways in which humans are at the same time one with all of creation and distinct in all of creation. And if the idea of trees “singing” comes across as utterly imaginative, is the idea that frail and sinful humans offer praise and thanksgiving to the One who exceeds them infinitely and in every way somehow *not* imaginative?
Grace precedes and bears up the praise and thanksgiving of humans. Without this grace, our praise would indeed be utterly imaginative. Worship invites us to consider this point as well.