“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psalm 100, NIV).
As families gather for Thanksgiving, they often participate in an annual ritual of going around the table and having each person mention something for which they are thankful. The usual responses are, “my family”; or “God”; or “Jesus.” Would you like to spice things up a bit? When it is your turn, why not give an out-loud, hands-in-the-air, hallelujah-laced, Holy Spirt-driven, shout of thanks to the Lord Almighty? Upon further reflection, that may be a bit extreme for this type of gathering; after all, shouting is reserved for the football games. Yet, that is exactly what the Psalmist says we should do. We are to shout with joy; enter with praise; worship with gladness; sing with gusto. Too often, our worship traditions can be a bit too somber; a bit too quiet; and sometimes (dare I say?) a bit too boring. Don’t get me wrong; a quiet, contemplative service has its place, but when we feel that we must restrain the Holy Spirit in worship, we have gone too far.
David was ever mindful to give praise and thanks to God, even in his struggles. We do not know whether he wrote the Psalm 100, but it sounds like something he would be inspired to write. By my count, we are told to “shout” our praise and thanksgiving in 17 of the Psalms. Psalm 100 is not an outlier by any means. Psalm 33:3 says, “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.” Psalm 41:7: “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.” Psalm 95:1 says, ”Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation” (emphasis mine).
Even those psalms that speak of hardship and hurt typically have a component of thanksgiving or praise. “My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you— I whom you have delivered. My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long, for those who wanted to harm me have been put to shame and confusion” (Psalm 71:23-24). “May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, ‘The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.’ My tongue will proclaim your righteousness, your praises all day long” (Psalm 35:27-28).
I’m thinking that, at the very least, when we share what we are thankful for today – no matter our circumstance – we can joyfully give thanks to the Creator of the heavens and earth and all that is in them; to the Savior and Redeemer of humankind; and to the Sustainer of our very souls; Father, Son and Holy Spirit; three Persons in one substance; God Almighty!
Happy Thanksgiving from First United Methodist Church of Beeville! If you do not have a church home, we invite join us for worship at 10 a.m. on Sundays.