Sermon Text: Psalm 148
Our psalm today made me want to laugh and sing. God is good and powerful! Let us worship together! It filled me with joy.
And–look. I know that worship is not always an act of joy. We can come to worship and be too sad about the griefs of our life to do anything but be here. We can get distracted by shopping lists and worries and whatever’s annoying you today. We can say the words, desperately wishing to feel something, and still feel nothing. All of that’s perfectly normal and okay and part of worshiping together every week.
That’s usually where I am, too. I know I’ve read this psalm before and said, “Ugh, it’s so happy. I’m not in the mood for that!” And I think that’s why my reaction this time, of joy and celebration, really stood out to me.
Joy, after all, is very much a gift. As Psalm 16 says: “You, O Lord, make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.” And joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit, which again is not something we can achieve on our own.
And maybe you think I’m being frivolous. After all, we’re in the midst of discerning the future of this church. We just reached one million people who’ve died because of COVID in the US. There was another mass shooting in Buffalo yesterday. I know so many of you are struggling with things in your own lives that make joy difficult to find.
Or we’re just too busy, in that way that flattens everything–we’re running from meeting to appointment to obligation and where in that is there time for anything else, let alone joy?
But joy sustains us. It reminds us that this world was created as a good and beautiful act of God. It reminds us that we are God’s beloved children, who are given God’s good gifts. It reminds us that God is with us.
(At this point in the sermon, I invited everyone to take a few minutes to share a moment of joy from their life lately with the people they were sitting close to. I invite you to do the same as you’re reading! It can be something tiny, like the purple flower I saw yesterday; it can be something huge, like the wedding you just went to. And if you aren’t sure, it’s okay to say that, too. Some seasons have so little joy in them.)
I’d like to finish today by reading the poem “Don’t Hesitate” by Mary Oliver. (read it here)