1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come into his presence with singing.
3 Know 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.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name.
5 For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
The other day I was out to eat with my girlfriend, and a few tables away was a young family, with some very loud children…they were yelling, shouting (there is a difference), complaining, and laughing…in short they were acting like kids!
As I sat there at the table, listening, I became slightly annoyed at first, wondering why the parents could not control their kids…but I did not say anything, and instead I took a good look a the situation, and I saw that the table consisted of a couple of women (they could have been mother and daughter) the younger looking very worn out and tired, while three restless children fussed about at the table, playing with their food, drinks and making a mess of everything. Occasionally the older woman would admonish the kids to behave, and in response they would laugh and continue to mess around!!
Watching those kids and the adults with them reminded me of what it was like for me, when my daughter was young…it did not matter where we were, a restaurant, subway train, airplane, movie, concert, funeral, or church…there were always opportunities to do what kids do, and disrupt with noise, questions or comments and complaints; especially when she was bored. At those times I felt embarrassed, frustrated and somewhat powerless!
It can be argued that as parents we are called to guide, or shepherd our children by showing them the right way to behave…but it is not always easy to be a good shepherd, as our kids have a mind of their own.
When she was wound up and (I felt like) she was causing a disturbance I would first try talking to her, asking her to settle down, and that would work for a few moments, and then I would get frustrated and begin to raise my voice, and that would only make things worse, as more people would turn to look when I yelled, and they she would yell back or cry and then I finally had to close my mouth and let her settle down on her own, helped along by the promise of ice cream or some of the Goldfish I always had with me.
So today, when I get annoyed at the behavior of some of the kids that I see when I am out in public, I try to remember what it was like…and not all that long ago…
In fact, there are times when I find myself enjoying the sounds of kids just being kids…whether they are in a restaurant, outside playing, or in church…
And it was in church, during a Sunday sermon the first part of today’s reading “Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth” came back to me while I was hearing the sound of a baby laughing in the otherwise quiet sanctuary.
Sitting up in the balcony, I could not see the baby, but I could see the reaction of some of the parishioners as they turned towards the noise. More than a few had unhappy looks on their faces…but the noise did not upset me as I realized that THIS was a joyful noise, being made in the midst of worship; after all what more joyful noise can there be than the sound of a baby laughing!!
Being a single parent is not the easiest thing to do, but for all the heart-ache, stress and worry, there is also much joy in being a good shepherd to our children, in sharing a close bond with them, while leading them through the challenge of growing up and learning how to face life on life’s terms. Our lives as single parents can be noisy, messy and anything but peaceful. Our children can sometimes be pretty noisy; whether they are singing, yelling, arguing, tearing around the house, or playing in the yard…they all making a joyful noise!
For the noise of life being lived (and not abused) can be a joyful noise, a sign of God’s grace in our lives.
Although I have sometimes found myself frustrated with the noise my daughter was making…when she is gone, and the house is quiet, I miss the noise, whether it is the sound of her music, talking on the phone, playing with the dog, or just walking across the floor, or even yelling at me…the house only feels like a home when she is there, and is making a joyful noise!
As Christians, we are called to be noisy, to live our faith out loud, making Christ known to the world…and not just on Sunday morning, but on every day…making our faith known in all that we do…and making all that we do a joyful noise!!!
Let us Pray:
Lord, help us to make all that we do joyful noise of praise for you, and for all the gifts you have given to us. Let us remember that the noise of life well-lived is not annoying, but joyful, a sign of your gracious love for all of your children! Please help us to share this noise of praise and joy with a world that is far too often filled with the sound of weeping, or the silence of those who are afraid to speak…or feel that their voices have no power. Thank you for immersing us in your grace, as given to us through Christ, and let us share this grace with others, as we seek reconciliation that calls upon us all to live our faith out loud, and make a joyful noise together…regardless of any differences we may have…as when we join in praise together we are reminded that we are all children of a loving God!