Though many psalms speak to our personal situation, most of the book of Psalms entered the canon as the songbook and prayer book of the community. If you imagine a procession of joyful, singing people as they stream into the gates of the Temple, you begin to catch the width and breadth and global nature of this popular psalm, often used in our churches to get us in the spirit of praise.
Psalm 100 rings out with strong verbs—sing, worship, thank, bless—that focus our attention and our action toward the God who made us and continues to love us. Our response is to make a joyful noise and live with praise and thanks.
Our new granddaughter was at the dinner table when we sang one of the graces we use before a meal. At the end of the song, she clapped her hands and beamed with joy. We responded with joy, and now we frequently use that same song—though we don’t always get applause!
I once heard a story about a child who clapped his hands a lot. Someone asked if his parents were worried that he was being a disruption to others. They responded that they were more worried that he would stop clapping. When have we stopped clapping for the wonders of the world around us or for the kindness of strangers or the blessings of family and friends?
Today’s psalm ends with the reminder that the love and faithfulness of God is more than a brief episode or a single occurrence. God goes the distance with us, from the clapping of toddlers to the dancing of the young, to the solos and duets of the adults and the wisdom of the elders. Through all generations, God is with us and offers us plenty of reasons to sing and worship and clap our hands.
Amazing God, send ripples of joy through all our days. Bring smiles and laughter. Birth hope and create opportunity. Make sweet melody in our words, and dance in our lives. Amen.
The readings this week lack a common theme. Genesis recounts the promise of Isaac’s miraculous birth and the fulfillment of that promise—a key story in the history of God’s people. The psalmist cries out with gladness to the Lord, for we are God’s people and the grateful recipients of unending faithfulness. Paul rejoices because we have peace with God through our faith in Jesus Christ. This is not because of anything we have done or could do; rather, God’s love sent Christ to die for us when we were distant from God. In Matthew, Jesus calls his disciples and declares that God’s harvest is vast, but there are not enough workers willing to go into the fields. It is a call for us to go as the disciples did.
Read Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7. How does your faith invite you to laughter?
Read Psalm 100. How do you make a joyful noise to God? Consider trying a new practice of joyful praise.
Read Romans 5:1-8. How has God’s love for you prompted you to “the second movement of the symphony,” to share God’s love with others and all creation?
Read Matthew 9:35–10:23. How are you called to participate in Christ’s ministry of healing?
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