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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Today’s Reading | Psalm 47

Clap your hands, all you peoples;
   shout to God with loud songs of joy.
For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome,
   a great king over all the earth.
He subdued peoples under us,
   and nations under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us,
   the pride of Jacob whom he loves.

God has gone up with a shout,
   the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
   sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the king of all the earth;
   sing praises with a psalm.

God is king over the nations;
   God sits on his holy throne.
The princes of the peoples gather
   as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
   he is highly exalted. (NRSV)

Shout! Cry out! Clap your hands, and sing, sing, sing, SING! The command to sing praises is given four times in Psalm 47, so when I read this psalm I feel joy and can imagine myself clapping, shouting, and singing. I feel the rush of exuberance and a release of satisfaction. But do I ever actually open my mouth or put my hands together?

Why would the psalmist be so specific? Why am I so inhibited? If you have ever raised teenagers, you might have some idea. You might know the look of pain they give you if you clap your hands to a song or move to a beat. And just forget singing to the radio. “Mom . . . please stop. No . . . I’m serious.” Thus ends the exuberance. I think that the ability to let myself go, to whoop, holler, clap my hands, and praise the Lord has been ‘“cultured”‘ out of me over the years.

Back to my question: Why would the psalmist be so specific? Why would the scriptures tell us time and time again to raise our hands and voices when praising God? I believe that it is for our benefit. Perhaps it is the same with prayer—or any communication with God.

Recently I was at a funeral where the first hour was filled with painful eulogies and open expressions of raw grief. But then things changed. These Christians commenced to do some serious praising of God. I saw hands raised, heads thrown back, mouths opened wide. People were spinning and singing and swaying and smiling. To me it was a miracle. To them? Just church.

Dear God, thank you for the instruction, the demonstration, and the affirmation that you really do want us to praise you. Loudly. Amen.

Written by Katy Sinclair, Associate Director of Music for Children and Youth

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