“Make a Joyful Noise!”
A Message by Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
When I was a much younger man, my
brother and I, and several of our friends, would occasionally go out for
breakfast on Sunday morning. (Obviously, this was before I had a regular Sunday
morning gig.) We had a couple of favorite places that we would frequent.
one particular occasion, we were at one of our preferred restaurants, and it
was packed, as it was most every weekend morning. We were waited upon by a
lovely server. She was very nice and very friendly, despite what must have been
a hectic and exhausting morning. After one of her visits to our table, my
brother said, “I don’t like her. She is way too happy!”
said something in her defense, and my brother responded that she was “just too
much. She is over the top happy!”
Too happy? Is there really such a thing as being too happy? Apparently, on that
morning, for my grumpy brother, there was.
as I thought about it … how often do we see people that are too happy, or over
the top happy?
evening news and our social media feeds are full of negative and nasty people. I
have tried to alter the algorithm on my social media stream by clicking and
“liking” videos about puppies, and elephants, and silly birds. I watch as many
stories about people being kind as possible, and yet the flood of angry videos
from the virtual and into the real world … consider this. When you are walking
down Main Street, Saco or Main Street, Biddeford, or Main Street, Any Town most
people are just going about their business. Sometimes there is an occasional
greeting, a word of ‘hello,’ a slight nod of the head or a little, half-hearted
wave. We walk past a lot of people with their heads down, rarely making eye
contact. We may even see some folks talking to themselves or grumbling about
life, or love, or the election. That is just an ordinary day in America.
often do you see someone walking down the street singing, or dancing, or
clapping? My guess is that it is a rare occurrence. However, when it does
happen, IF it does happen, what would be your first thought? “There is
something wrong with that one! Someone call 9-1-1!”
often do we witness genuine exuberance? How often do we witness true expressions
of joy! How often do we make a joyful noise? What brings us out into the
streets to sing and dance in celebration? When the Red Sox or the Patriots win
the championship? Or the SeaDogs or the Bruins? (Okay Celtics fans … you too.)
cannot remember the last time that I danced in the street. In fact, I do not
think that I have EVER danced in the street.
psalm this morning was a ‘dance in the street’ celebration. Throughout the
psalms, there were many that praised God, but this one was special. This psalm
was born out of the conquest of Babylon in 539 BCE. The defeat of Babylon meant
that the Judahites could return home after sixty years in exile. It meant that
a people that had been fractured and dragged into slavery would be restored. It
meant that people that had lost their homes, their property, their heritage could
finally go home to rebuild their lives!
fall of Babylon meant that Yahweh was more powerful that all of those foreign
gods. Their do-nothing statue gods could not withstand the awesome power of
a joyful noise, people! We are free! We are going home! Our God is a great and
not only did the Children of Israel rejoice, all the world rejoiced with them. The
other nations in the Mediterranean area benefitted by the defeat of Babylon.
The fall of Babylon was a major event in world history. Such a moment in world
history was a reflection of the mighty power of Yahweh. God reached down and
acted in an awe-inspiring way!
a joyful noise, ALL you people! God has done an awesome thing!”
fact, so awesome is God that all Creation rejoices! The rocks and hills cannot
keep silent. They will sing God’s praise. The rivers and streams will sing, and
the trees will clap their hands! Even the sea will sing! How can they keep from
twenty years of their return home from exile, the Children of God had rebuilt
the Temple in Jerusalem. The House of God had been restored. There was much
rejoicing! They were a renewed people! They sang a song … a NEW song … in their
psalm celebrates the liberation of the people of Judah in the year 539 BCE, but
it also recognizes that God has always been faithful. This psalm does not
celebrate a singular event. It celebrates God’s power throughout history.
same God that saved the people of Judah is the same God that created the earth
and everything in it. The same God that conquered Chaos and called forth life.
same God that led the people to freedom from their slavery in Egypt, defeated King
same God that defeated the prophets of Ba’al on Mount Carmel defeated the
do-nothing gods of Babylon.
same God that had been steadfastly with Israel throughout history was steadfast
with them in exile.
it is the same God that is steadfast and true in our lives. Let us celebrate
and sing God’s praise! Let us make a joyful noise!
we take down all of our Halloween decorations, we know that Advent and
Christmas are just around the corner. As we plan our Thanksgiving gatherings,
we are already thinking about pageants, angels, and gifts under the tree. On
Christmas Eve, we will sing, “Joy to the World!”
98 provides the scriptural basis for that classic Christmas carol. Joy to the
world, the Savior reigns! The psalm celebrated God’s activity throughout
history AND it looked forward. It looked forward to that day when the God who
rules the world would come down. The psalm and the song both announce and
celebrate the coming of the Savior God as the King of the World.
the world rejoices! The same salvation that came to the Children of Israel comes
to the whole world! God did far more than anyone could have ever anticipated.
We cannot possibility imagine the mighty deeds of power. God’s power is beyond
our comprehension. But we DO KNOW that God uses that power in OUR lives.
we look at this psalm of celebration and praise, we have to consider: How has
God touched our lives?
what ways has God set us free? What chains has God broken on our behalf?
joy has God brought into our lives?
light has broken through? What peace have we experienced?
I do not expect you to go running out of church after coffee hour and dance in
the middle of Main Street. Although … it would be a sight to see. Just imagine
what people would say! The light and joy of God are incredible gifts that we
have received. Let us dance in that light. Let us share that joy.
we live in such a way that our lives are songs that praise God!
we live in such a way that people will notice … maybe even ask themselves, “Why
is that one so happy?”
us make a joyful noise to God in everything that we say and do! Amen!
Congregational ChurchUCC, SACO MAINE12 BEACH STREET | SACO, ME 04072207-283-3771