The Rev. Adele K. Langworthy, preaching
November 23, 2022
I sing because I’m happy I sing because I’m free For His eye, his eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches over me.
The Lord God does watch over us and for that we have reason to be joyful and thankful!
Because of God, we can enter our Thanksgiving celebration with songs of joy and prayers of thanksgiving. It’s not because everything is right in our lives and the world, because it is not — but everything is all right in our soul because of our God.
Especially in harder times, we need to consciously make the effort to be filled with joy and thanks, because it isn’t naturally going to bubble to the surface. It may even seem out of place or wrong.
It seemed wrong for Mamie Till-Mobley to ever be in a place of joy again after her only son Emmett was lynched at the age of 14 for whistling at a white woman while visiting from Chicago his cousins in Mississippi, in 1955. Yet, despite the hate and injustice Mamie came to know firsthand, she was able to rise up with a voice that would be heard and a praise to God that was heartfelt. These are her words, “With each day, I give thanks for the blessings of life – the blessings of another day and the chance to do something with it. Something good. Something significant. Something helpful. No matter how small it might seem. I want to keep making a difference.”
Our Psalm today, Psalm 100 provides us the framework to build a life filled with a joy, as like Mamie’s, that bubbles up regardless of our own circumstances or world’s situation, one where heartfelt thanks is bountifully offered.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
The psalmist reminds us that there is no need to worry that we do not have a perfect voice or perhaps can’t sing at all—the key is finding our voice to be thankful and, with that voice, to make some joyful noise in praising God. Just as at a sporting event when the crowd is invited to make some noise for their team —”Let’s make some noise!”— let us make some cheering noise for God!
And how is this best done?
We worship the Lord with gladness (and) come into his presence with singing.
We can worship our God together in a sanctuary or on-line, by ourselves on a walk or as we sit in a chair, as we drive in to work or as we awaken in the morning. We can always choose to worship God and to do so with joy. Some of us come by this easier than others because of our disposition or upbringing, but all of us need to make the choice to remember 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.
William Temple said, “It is probable that in most of us the spiritual life is impoverished and stunted because we give so little place to gratitude. It is more important to thank God for blessings received than to pray for them beforehand. For that forward-looking prayer, though right as an expression of dependence upon God, is still self-centered in part, at least, of its interest; there is something we hope to gain by our prayer. But the backward-looking act of thanksgiving is quite free from this. In itself it is quite selfless. Thus it is akin to love. All our love to God is in response to his love for us; it never starts on our side. ‘We love, because he first loved us’ (1 John 4:19).”
When we remind ourselves of God’s first loving us, of his watchful love, of his saving love — we then can
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. We can give thanks to him, bless his name.
While on a short-term missions trip, Pastor Jack Hinton was leading worship at a leper colony on the island of Tobago. A woman who had been facing away from the pulpit turned around.
“It was the most hideous face I had ever seen,” Hinton said. “The woman’s nose and ears were entirely gone. She lifted a fingerless hand in the air and asked, ‘Can we sing Count Your Many Blessings?’ “
Overcome with emotion, Hinton left the service. He was followed by a team member who said, “I guess you’ll never be able to sing that song again.”
“Yes I will,” he replied, “but I’ll never sing it the same way.”
For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.