The celebration of this day draws me to worship. It draws me to the altar where we join our voices “…with Angels and Archangels and all the company of heaven,” singing praise and glory to God. From Luke’s account we hear of the song of the heavenly hosts, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors,” familiar to us as the beginning of the Gloria in excelsis. Even the antiphons or refrains for the various canticles and psalms appointed for today’s feast direct us to an attitude of worship. One ancient example rings out, “Angels and Archangels, Thrones and Dominions, Principalities and Powers, Virtues of the heavens, O praise the Lord of heaven, alleluia.”
To worship is to give “worth” to something, as in worth-ship. That to which we give worth is what we worship, and the call of faithfulness is to give ultimate worth to God. This “worth-giving” is characterized by praise, honor, joy, and I trust a spirit of playfulness, even foolishness. It is the poet Annie Dillard who admonishes us that in worship we ought to prepare by donning crash helmets.
Of course, worship is not only to happen in a set-aside sacred space. It can happen anywhere, even as all the company of heaven is present everywhere and thus all creation is sacred. I remember a glorious moment some years ago in the Maine woods, walking the shore of a lake, gazing upon a lunar eclipse at midnight and singing out loud a psalm of praise. I recall standing at a hospital bed with a dying friend, family gathered round, and a profound sense of a community present “seen and unseen.” Another time, standing before giant tortoises in the Galapagos Islands, I found myself spontaneously praising and giving thanks to God for his imagination manifested on this earth, our island home.
My hope for you today in your ongoing life and ministry is that you will find places of wonder and the time needed to adore the God of infinite love and mercy. Join the conversation that is already taking place among all the company of heaven, as we join as one to sing in an ancient antiphon, “The heavenly host extol the Son of the Most High; to him Cherubim and Seraphim continually cry, Holy!”