Please Note: There are not any messages posted for the previous weeks. On those Sundays we had guest preachers and we did not share their messages.
Message by Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
Have you ever wondered what is
inside the pulpit?
It could be the pastor’s toy box. It
is a spot where I could keep props that I might use during one of my messages.
And it has been used precisely for that purpose.
I will say that I have been here for
almost four years … and there are a few items that have been in here since I
began my ministry. I did not know why they were there … so naturally I just
left them. (One never knows what sacred cows a congregation may have.) But let
us see what I am talking about:
Bottle of scented oil
The baby Jesus!
The remote control for the window
Two fire extinguishers!
And a box of tissues.
I put the box of tissues in the pulpit, and some of you know why. Yes, it is
allergy season. Those of you who have been here for a while know that I do cry
during worship from time to time. Sometimes I get choked up when I tell an
emotional story or share a powerful illustration. But, more often than not, the
cause of my tears is the music.
My friends, my family, my church
family all know that I cry when I listen to music. And not just in worship. I
cry at concerts. I cry watching television at home. I cried last week during
the Night of Talent. I … like many people … have an emotional reaction when
listening to music.
Out of curiosity, I decided to learn
the reason for this. (Naturally, I also thought that it would make a nice
introduction to this message.) I fired up the Internet and I Googled: “Why do I
cry when I listen to music?”
I got thousands of responses.
However, nearly ALL of them were, “Why do I cry when I listen to SAD music?” I
did not ask about sad music. I sifted through the responses and found a study
conducted by the University of North Carolina and the University of Sydney.
They found that people that cry when they listen to music could be divided into
two general categories.
First, they found that sixty-three
percent of their subjects reported that they cried when they listen to sad
music. They cry because the song was sad, or because they had some emotional
connection to a particular song or group of songs.
And then there is the second
category. The researchers then found that thirty-six point seven percent of the
people cry when they listen to music because of a sense of “awe” or
I could not find any other similar
studies. And to be honest, I did not spend a whole lot of time searching. So,
in order that I might confirm their results, I decided to conduct my own
research study. Admittedly, it was a small sample size … ONE subject. Me. And
it was not a longitudinal study conducted over a long period of time. It was
conducted over the span of about two hours.
I watched a variety of music videos
to see what my response would be. I made note of those that evoked tears and
those that made me cry. Here are my results:
The determining factor was NOT
necessarily the song. Yes, there were some sad songs or emotional songs that
caused me to cry. But I also cried during a variety of other songs.
It was the singer … the performer
(musicians have also made me cry) … that evoked the emotional response. And it
was more than simply their ability to perform skillfully. My emotional response
was most often triggered by the performer’s connection to the piece of music.
An exquisite performance certainly contributes to the tracks of my tears, but
the feelings of awe and appreciation are more often a result of the performer’s
ability to communicate their connection to the music.
I returned to the study conducted by
the university scientists and found in their conclusion that their definition
of “awe” had to do with a sense of wonder and praise. Awe equals wonder and
As we read our scripture passage
this morning, one thing was clear … we are to praise God! Psalm 150 is the
final “Hallelujah!” in this ancient hymn book.
It tells us WHO we are to praise.
It tells us WHY we are to praise. We
thank God for all that God has done for humanity and all the earth across the
centuries, since the dawn of time!
It tells us HOW we are to praise. We
praise God in song … in music!
And it tells us WHO is to offer
their praise to God … all the earth! Every living creature should thank and
As we heard, the psalmist used the
word ‘praise’ TWELVE times. This is not
a half-hearted call to praise. It is emphatic.
Are there any fans of the movie,
“This is Spinal Tap” here this morning? For those of you unfamiliar, it is a
mockumentary about a fictitious heavy metal rock band. In the film, there is a
scene in which the band members are talking about their amplifiers and speakers.
They point out that other bands have amplifiers that go as high as ten, but
theirs go to eleven! Eleven is one louder than ten.
Twelve is one louder than eleven!
In the ancient Hebrew, the word for
‘praise’ that was used meant more than simply clapping our hands or even
singing a song or shouting with joy. The word referred to an action that
involved not only the lips but also our lives … the manner in which we live. We
praise God in song, and we praise God in the living of our lives.
The praise that we offer is not a
superficial, “Yay, God!” It is more than a polite word of thanks or a
perfunctory word of appreciation. It is deep. It is intimate. It is part of the
fabric of our lives.
Our songs of praise recognize all
that God has done for humanity across the centuries, as well as what God has
done for us individually in our lives. Our songs of praise also anticipate what
God will continue to do for us all the days of our lives.
Let us praise God! Let us praise God
Let us praise God in song.
And let us praise God in the lives
that we live.
Praise God! Amen!
Congregational ChurchUCC, SACO MAINE12 BEACH STREET | SACO, ME 04072207-283-3771