“Hallelujah! Amen” from Judas Maccabeus by George Frederick Handel
It seems a bit silly to put a translation for this week’s lyrics, considering the only two words in the whole piece are words we use weekly, if not daily in our spiritual walk. Despite these words’ familiarity and your fluency in Christianese, I still know that I often forget the real meanings of these words and, perhaps more to the point, the implications of these mantras of our faith, so without further ado, your translations:
Hallelujah – “Praise the Lord”
Amen – “So Be It”
Now, since you’re probably already fatigued from reading that translation – this is a pretty complicated text – I’m only going to address half of it this week.
In my mind, there are two basic categories of praise – explicit praise and implicit praise.
Explicit praise is clearly defined moments of worship. It is a daily bible study, a prayer, community worship and hymn-singing, Sunday School and Montreat. Explicit praise is moments of intentional focus on Christ, meant to deepen our relationship with God and give Him glory in some way. It is clear, unequivocal praise, and, truth be told, explicit praise is what we tend to think of whenever we imagine praising God.
Implicit praise, I would argue, is anything else we do for someone or something created by God. Implicit praise is often simpler, often less grand than explicit praise, but it has an incredible power of its own accord. Implicit praise is smiling at the cash register behind your mask, reading your child a bedtime story, or paying for your friend’s meal. Though I love the image, I cannot imagine someone in any of these situations saying, “Hallelujah.” Implicit praise acts are done for God’s creation, rather than directly to and for God’s glory. In many acts of implicit praise, God probably doesn’t even cross our mind!
The great thing about implicit praise is that the glory still goes to God. Directly. There are no “Jesus Points” lost in translation by praising God through your positive interactions with His creation!
Too often we judge our faith (a no-no in and of itself) by the quality and quantity of our explicit praise, rather than living in the glory that God is praised through every good we do.
Did you give your puppy some good pets this morning? God was praised. You celebrated His creation.
Did you let someone in your lane during traffic even though they were being pushy about it? God was praised. You gave grace.
Did you give yourself a break when you forgot to run a certain errand? God was praised. You forgave someone that God deeply loves.
In a way, the bar feels incredibly low for implicit praise, doesn’t it?
Good. It’s supposed to be. Because praising God is not just a thing we choose to do on Sundays, it is an inevitable part of our lives as His followers.
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.
1 John 4:12
Director of Music
First Presbyterian Church