LORD, all the earth!” Most often, we think of joyful noise as music,
singing - singing praises to the Lord.
Although Psalm 98 describes the sea roaring, the rivers clapping their
hands & the hills breaking forth in song. The Psalms together create a
vision of all of creation - people & land, so to speak - joining together in
noisy worship of God.
The word “noisy” can throw us - especially those of us who enjoy
quieter music or are seeking calm & quiet in our worship. Some of us
have a lot of noise in our day-to-day world. Some of us have too much
silence in our lives, especially in our Covid separations.
Technology, new inventions, animal extinction & climate change alter
the sound of our world today. Scientists now study soundscapes. It is
rare to find a place where human sound or human-impacted sound does
What is noise to one person, may, indeed, be music to another person.
I know this from living in St.Paul in a neighborhood where teenagers &
their boomboxes were once prevalent. Crying babies make some people
nervous; whereas, I grew up with my dad saying that crying babies were
growing their lungs so my tolerance for crying babies is high. Because
we have so few children in our church, we cherish the noise children
make during worship. Although, as we know in Arylce Dedrickson’s &
Mary Crosbie’s childhoods in this church, children were strongly
encouraged to not make any noise.
Research shows that some sounds are consistently named as the best &
most magical for us to hear: a child’s first word; the words ‘I love you’;
the sound of rain falling; the pop of a champagne cork; birds singing at
dawn; children laughing; waves crashing onto the beach or rocks; bubble
wrap popping; a fire crackling; leaves crunching beneath our feet;
church bells; owls hooting; whales calling one another; popcorn popping;
crickets chirping; the voices of our loved ones . . . on & on, we could go
with our list.
We are talking about joyful noise - a bold display of worshipping God
with sound. It might be interesting to use some of our favorite sounds
during worship - perhaps the sound of rain falling during moments of
quiet prayer or, we could all pop bubble wrap when Gordy tells a lame
joke. Traditionally, joyful noise during worship includes clapping,
ringing bells, dancing, shouts of “Amen!” and other expressions of
David dances (2 Samuel 6:14); Miriam plays the tambourine, sings and
dances (Exodus 15:20–21); the children of Israel shout and sing (2
Chronicles 15:14); Solomon lifts hands before all the people (1 Kings
8:22); Paul and Silas sing loudly in jail (Acts 16:25); and Jesus is
welcomed into Jerusalem with loud shouts of joy (John 12:13).
God wants us to experience joy so much that we cannot contain our
wonder & awe of the fruits of the Spirit - that we must make a joyful
noise unto the Lord. The joy we are talking about is biblical; it’s “joy of
the Lord is our strength.” A joyful noise unto God has a spiritual
meaning of expressing God’s goodness, God’s grace. A joyful noise unto
God exists whether we are personally joyful or going through a
struggle where we do not feel personally joyful.
In this church, we make a joyful noise with our gratitude when we
celebrate together before Thanksgiving. We also make a joyful,
although quieter, noise amid our lamenting during our Blue Christmas
service. And, we make a joyful noise when we celebrate the birth of
Christ by having the young people ring bells.
We are entering into Thanksgiving week today & we will soon enter the
season of Advent. Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas Eve & Christmas
Day most likely will be different for us this year. Many people will be
facing their first holiday season without loved ones who died from
Covid, accidents or other health issues. Many of us will be alone or in
smaller groups for the holidays. Even if we are able to be with our
entire family, we may feel the shadow of Covid & election angst.
As Christians, we know that regardless of death, our personal problems
& the world’s problems, we live within the grace of making a joyful
noise unto God. Our reliance on God comforts us & leads us to be
unable to contain the joy & gratitude we feel towards God - towards
one another as children of God. So, we will rise above during this
holiday season & lead the way to making a joyful noise.
We can lead the way by sharing that our joy is God-centered - that
being in the presence of God gives us joy - that biblically, God has
created us to rejoice with great joy - that God makes us rejoice with
great joy. Our joy comes from being in God’s presence. Our joy comes
from God. God is our living & active source of our joy.
Joy comes to us when we remember God’s faithfulness to the people in
the Bible & his faithfulness to us in the past, today & tomorrow. God
has been faithful in giving us eternal life through Jesus; in giving us
the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our inheritance; & in giving us the
Bible so we may be comforted, learn & live our lives by God’s words.
We tend to remember these three major acts of faithfulness. It is a
lot harder to remember God’s daily faithfulness because we have a
tendency to think we run on our own steam day to day. How can we
increase our awareness of God’s daily faithfulness?
I read a sentence recently that answers this question in a way that
causes me to pause & think. “We remember (God’s faithfulness) by
daily preaching the gospel to ourselves . . . “ Jenny Salt, the dean of
students at Sydney Missionary & Bible College wrote this sentence.
Preaching the gospel to ourselves means we, as Jenny Salt wrote, “daily
saturate our hearts & minds in God’s Word, so that God’s ways become
our default ways of thinking & living” - default meaning that way we
think & live automatically within the word of God.
I am taken with the idea of preaching the gospel to ourselves as well as
with the visual image of saturating our hearts & minds in God’s Word.
Some days, a bath or shower of God’s Word may be refreshing enough
to cause us to make a joyful noise unto God. Some days, we may need
to be saturated to the extent of being dripping wet in God’s Word to
give us the internal strength to make a joyful noise unto God.
I want to encourage all of us to go forth with renewed spiritual energy,
prepared to preach the gospel to ourselves, willing to saturate our
hearts & minds with the Word of God and to lead the way towards
making a joyful noise unto the Lord throughout the upcoming holiday
season & beyond.
May we make a joyful noise unto the Lord as we remember God’s
faithfulness when we break bread at Thanksgiving - when we enter the
Advent season & when we celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas
Eve & Christmas Day.
May we be a beacon of light to show the way to joy during the holiday
season of 2020.