Friday, June 24, 2016

It's a beaut!

"O come let us sing for joy to the Lord;
Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms."
(verses 1-3)

Wade out in worship!
This is an invitation, "O come..."
It is a reminder that God's people are a singin' people.  Hmm.  It's kinda natural since music is a big part of heaven, though our squawks here can't be compared to what's a-coming.  We're just doing the warm-up scales of sorts, "Do re, me..."  But we have to be honest here.  When's the last time you shouted in church, huh?  Does it take musical talent to shout?  No, I didn't think so.  These few verses mention shouting twice.  How about that. 

I was raised in a denomination with a history of shouters, hankie-wavers,  dancers-down-the-aislers, even jumpers-over-pewers.  Those days were long past by the time I was born, except for a few exceptions I witnessed at campmeetings.  We had become staid.  That's another word for stuck in hand-tied conservatism, sober, sedate, serious. 

In one church we pastored, friends we had met in campmeeting came for a visit to our church.  As eager new believers instead of outlaw bikers, they had, of all things, read a history of the denomination and decided to do likewise.   They brought hankies to church, those large white ones.  As my husband preached his heart out, they began to wave them with the joy in their hearts.  Our young nieces who were also visiting leaned over in a kind of shock and asked their parents what those people were doing. 

Somehow, I get the impression from this psalm that worshippers were excited to be in the presence of God.  They just couldn't contain themselves with joyful singing, shouting, and kneeling before God.  Hmm.  Does that sound like your church last Sunday?  Does that sound like you last Sunday?  Me, either.  It's not the preacher who dictates this.  It's our hearts who should be moved.
Somehow, the veil of restraint needs to be torn in two once in awhile, I think, to get in closer to the Holy of Holies.

Matthew Henry says, "The praising song must be a joyful noise.  Spiritual joy is the heart and soul of thankful praise."  Adam Clarke says, "'Let us make a joyful noise,' make a jubilee of it.  Openly, and with a loud voice, 'Let us make a joyful noise with Psalms.  Reverently, as being in His eye, His presence. Gratefully. "Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving.'"

There are a few other ways that church has changed over my lifetime.  I'm glad the church I'm a part of uses both choruses and hymns.  I love them both, but the hymns are the ones that stick when I might on occasion burst into singing.  The rest are times I must sing along to the radio in between services.  Hymns have stood the test of time.  It's as though we are singing along with the saints of old.  As I've said before, reading notes was a skill I learned while holding hymnal.  Singing harmony was as natural as a duckling taking to water.  If I can't squeeze a harmony out of a tune, I always feel like something is missing.  I also love the new choruses too which are multiplying faster than rabbits, which is a good thing.  After all, the psalms at one time or other were all new choruses.

Another way the church has changed is the down-on-your-knees praying as a congregation.  I know, I'm getting old too and the knees just ain't what they used to be.  But I'd like the challenge to try it.  It's kind of like getting back on a bike--or I'd rather say--getting back on a horse.  I think I could do it, should do it once in awhile--not the bike part though, I think I'd fall off--but the kneeling in worship.  After all, kneeling is a part of worship too just as much as lifting up of the hands.  I cut my teeth on the pew bench while kneeling beside--well, I don't know--my mama was at the piano and my daddy at the pulpit--so I knelt beside some nice lady or other, like Callie Young. I was raised on the smell and taste of pew varnish. 

(verse 6)
"Come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker."
"For the Lord is a great God,
And a great King above all gods..."
(verse 3)

"Idolaters kneel before gods which they themselves made;
we kneel before a God who made us."
(Matthew Henry)
"Adoration,  humble adoration; outward worship, that of the body,
 as well as inward, that of the soul is His due."
(Adam Clarke)

Why? "Because He is a great God, and a great King above all gods, Jehovah, a God whose name is, 'I am,' and incommunicable name to any other; for His essence is from Himself, and immutable (unchanging)...and the great Jehovah, great in power, majesty, and glory, for He is above all gods." (Adam Clarke)
Do I hear an amen?
Do I see a hankie waving?
Does it make you want to shout?
Does it at least make you want to sing?

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