Advent Thanksgiving and Praise - Psalm 138

Notes for a workshop with a group from St. Mark's Anglican Congregation, Kingston, Ontario on November 23, 2002 - by Robert Brow (

When Mollie and I were driving through the Rockies on the road between Banff and Jasper we were awestruck looking at a glacier between a great mountain of spruce trees with a river flowing down into a crystal blue lake. In front of us a woman was enthusing to her husband at the wonder of the sight. "Look at that glorious view."  He said  "Oh, it's just a pile of rocks with water coming down." Which was quite true. But I want to ask seven questions about his response.

1 What do you think is wrong with the man's response to his wife's expression of praise?
Answers ? He had no appreciation of beauty in nature. He was a boor.

2 What is the difference between that woman's praise and the way Mollie and I praised God on that occasion?
Answers ? She praised the scene, we wanted to praise the Creator.

3 Flattery is buttering up someone to get what we want? When we praised that sight in the Rockies, we were not expecting to get something in exchange. Why then did we do it ?
Answers ? Praise is the natural response of a person of faith.

4 When we saw that beautiful sight in the Rockies, what do you think was the difference between our praise and our thanksgiving?
Answers ? Praise was our response to the sight. We found ourselves thankful for our holiday and the opportunity to be there.
( e.g. the difference between praise and thanksgiving when we stand up for the standing ovation at a superb concert?).

5 Does praise come first, or does thanksgiving lead us into praise?
Answers ? It seems to work both ways. They react on one another.

6 C. S. Lewis said that "Praise is inner health made audible" which means that a person is spiritually sick if he or she cannot thank and praise God. Can we see a visible difference between people who are full of thanksgiving and praise and those who cannot appreciate beauty or value?
Answers ? People whose hearts are full of thanksgiving and praise have a serene peace and beauty in all they do. The poison in their system begins to dissolve as praise sweetens their heart. People who cannot thank and praise become sour, grumpy, anxious, ungrateful. It is written all over their face and body language.

7 Would God punish us for failing to praise him?
Answers ? God does not punish his children when they fail to praise, but he is sad for them. God does not need our praise, but he knows that we need it, and that's why he rejoices in it. Loving parents try to encourage appreciation and thanksgiving in their children.


The word ADVENT means coming. What does the advent of spring mean to us?

What picture comes to mind when you hear "Aunt Beatrice is making her annual advent" ?

People in hospital say "When is the nurse going to come (make her advent)? When is the doctor going to come?"

How then does Advent apply to God ? God is a loving oneness of three Persons, and it is good to distinguish how each of the three Persons make their loving advent in our lives. The Father makes his advents , the Son makes his advents, and the Holy Spirit wants to make his advents in our life.

And for each of the three Persons we need to learn both thanksgiving and praise. That gives us six forms of thanksgiving and praise to sweeten our lives.

GOD THE FATHER - How does a loving parent make his/her advent in a child's life?
Answers ? Picks up and walks. Crying - cuddle. Hungry - milk. Diaper change. Sings, tells stories Just be with

So let's take two or three minutes to thank the Father for particular occasions when he has come (made his advent) in our life. Then we move to praise for who he is. .

GOD THE SON - Note the distinction "No one has ever seen God (the Father). It is God the only Son who has made him known" (John 1:18). The Son made many advents (comings) to be with Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, David and many others in the Old Testament period. How does he come to be alongside us?
Answers ? He comes alongside us a friend, doctor, shepherd, leader, forgiver, King among the nations. At Christmas we remember his coming (advent) to live among us for thirty years.

So let's take two or three minutes to thank Jesus for times when he has come to us, and then turn that into praise for who he is.

GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT - He was not invented in the New Testament.  He inspired and empowered leaders, prophets, even artists in the Old Testament period. In the Book of Proverbs he is pictured as a woman, Sophia, who loves to give us wisdom. How does the Holy Spirit make his advents into our life today?
Answers ? Inspiration. Illumination to see the way ahead. Guidance. Power when we feel weak.

So we take another two or three minutes to thank the Holy Spirit for his advents in our life, and then praise him for who he is.

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