Alive with Praise
On your feet now—applaud God!
Bring a gift of laughter,
sing yourselves into his presence.
Know this: God is God, and God, God.
He made us; we didn’t make him.
We’re his people, his well-tended sheep.
Enter with the password: “Thank you!”
Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
Thank him. Worship him.
For God is sheer beauty,
all-generous in love,
loyal always and ever.
Psalm 100:1-5, The Message
I don’t know about you, but sometimes it is easy to fall into a spiritual routine, which at the start seems invigorating and full of life, but eventually loses its luster and becomes old and mundane. I’ve learned over the years, without some intentionality and creativity in my rule of life, I will grow weary. When I notice things getting to the point of listlessness in my prayer life, I return to the advice given me early on in my priesthood. My Spiritual Director encouraged me to switch things up and not be afraid to allow God to meet me in new ways. One way that I’ve kept my prayer time fresh is to change the version of the Bible I’m using. It gives me a new perspective to see things differently, and God always seems to enlighten me in unexpected ways.
In this Psalm from The Message version of the Bible, I’m struck by the enthusiasm elicited by the writer. With less verbiage than traditional scripts, the translator is able to make the point without losing the meaning or essence. In this particular Psalm, rooted in gratitude, it reminds me of the creative and festive side of God. In many ways, it is in stark contrast to the religion of my birth. The church in which I grew up tended to keep God in a box. As a result, I perceived Him not as a relational God, but as a God who was impersonal and ruled over me from a distance. It wasn’t until I received His grace that I realized how insufficient the God of my youth really was and how entrapped I had become in my limited understanding. This translation encourages me to dust off my old ways of dancing and open myself up to a new step.
Worshiping God by applauding His goodness and by interjecting the gift of laughter may not be a ‘proper’ Anglican way of worship as we know it, and yet it doesn’t make it wrong. It simply encourages us to let our guard down and allow His Spirit to fill us so we can worship Him in all His fullness and His beauty. He made us, He knows us and most importantly, He loves us. This, in itself, is worthy of our thanksgiving and praise.