Psalm 100 says…
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing.
Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
This is the psalm reading for a wedding I am preaching at this weekend. It’s the perfect psalm for a beautiful occasion and I am grateful that the couple picked it. I have been walking with this psalm for a few days now. Reading it when I get up and at different points throughout the day. And I haven’t ‘felt’ it yet. What do I mean by that? Well, I have not really felt a joyful noise rise up, but more of a wimpy try at alleluia. I haven’t been able to sing anything but the sad songs and feeling the happy has been a struggle. So when I was leading chapel today, I was singing and the children were dancing, which made me dance, which made me feel this inkling, this sprinkle, of what the psalm asks us to do. And now I remember that joy isn’t a happy feeling, joy is nothing the love and presence of God beyond the desire for the feeling of it. Joy is moving my hips a little to join in dance with a preschooler.
Joy is also remembering that God gave us all the feelings and that most of the time we are not experiencing just one. Like at my own wedding- happy, excited, and also scared of stepping into full on adulthood! Or the mix of feelings this morning of relief and sorrow as my daughter’s covid test came back negative- relief, because of course no desire for covid, sorrow because I can’t just go bring her healing tea or kiss her forehead to see if she still has a fever, and then deep joy again because of all the precious memories and times I have gotten to express mother love in that way. God gave us feelings to feel them, to be human persons, who even in times of grief (which is the collective experience of the pandemic at the moment, more on that another day) can know that our feelings tell us things, give us information. We can move in and out of them and we can let them teach us about ourselves and our God. As you ponder the joint feelings you may be experiencing, let them tell you more about yourself and then also let them tell you of God’s presence in all of them. And then let them help you move your hips a little to the music of joy found in God’s profound promise of love– For the Lord is good, God’s steadfast love endures forever!