The Message, November 6, 2022: "Make a Joyful Noise!" Psalm 98

The Message, November 6, 2022: "Make a Joyful Noise!" Psalm 98

Author: Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
November 06, 2022


“Make a Joyful Noise!”
A Message by Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
Psalm 98

            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.

            On 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!”

            I said something in her defense, and my brother responded that she was “just too much. She is over the top happy!”

            Really?! Too happy? Is there really such a thing as being too happy? Apparently, on that morning, for my grumpy brother, there was.

            But as I thought about it … how often do we see people that are too happy, or over the top happy?

            The 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 keep coming.

            Away 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.

            How 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!”

            How 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.)

            I 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.

            Our 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!

            The 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 Yahweh!

            “Make a joyful noise, people! We are free! We are going home! Our God is a great and powerful God!”

            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!

            “Make a joyful noise, ALL you people! God has done an awesome thing!”

            In 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 singing!?!

            Within 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 new Temple.

            “Praise God!”

            The 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.

            The 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.
            The same God that led the people to freedom from their slavery in Egypt, defeated King Nebuchadnezzar.
            The same God that defeated the prophets of Ba’al on Mount Carmel defeated the do-nothing gods of Babylon.
            The same God that had been steadfastly with Israel throughout history was steadfast with them in exile.

            And 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!

            As 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!”

            Psalm 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.

            All 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.

            As we look at this psalm of celebration and praise, we have to consider: How has God touched our lives?

            In what ways has God set us free? What chains has God broken on our behalf?

            What joy has God brought into our lives?

            What light has broken through? What peace have we experienced?

            Now, 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.

            May we live in such a way that our lives are songs that praise God!

            May we live in such a way that people will notice … maybe even ask themselves, “Why is that one so happy?”

            Let us make a joyful noise to God in everything that we say and do! Amen!


Congregational Church