Psalm 98:1-5 | 1 John 2:22-29 | John 1:19-28

I have always loved the idea of “joyful noise”. I have always thought of joyful noise as the perfect description of celebration and praise to our Lord. Normally, this time of year is filled with many opportunities to share and experience celebrations and create joyful noise. So many wonderful gatherings and parties. And at our beloved St. Luke’s, the annual Christmas concert, special services and seasonal liturgies… such glorious ways to celebrate and be joyful together!

Time to state the obvious… this past year has been anything but normal.

So many of the traditional ways of creating and experiencing joyful noise have been silenced, suspended or at the very least, significantly altered. And then there is just the fact that sometimes it feels a bit inappropriate to be celebrating during a pandemic, especially when so many are suffering.

But I am reminded of Mother Tanya’s recent sermon where she invited us to “plant our hearts firmly in the space of joy not withstanding”.

And so, we do celebrate, notwithstanding all the suffering, notwithstanding all the hardship, notwithstanding all the loss we are currently experiencing. We do sing praises and express our gratitude for the blessings we have received. I am so grateful for the beautifully joyful noise we at St. Luke’s have been blessed with through our faithful and fabulous Minister of Music, Rodney Ayers. And through the talented and faith-filled singers who have brought real joy into our homes through our virtual worship. 

And I continue to be grateful for the many examples of joyful noise in my life. One of my earliest and treasured memories of joyful noise is my mother singing “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” while she washed dishes at the kitchen sink, looking out the window, breaking out in song, seemingly compelled to do so in celebration of a random glorious day.

Every spring, I am delighted to hear the multitude of birds singing amidst all the reawakening of life.

And every day, my heart fills with joy when I hear my Gary laugh, and when he says “I love you”… a most joyful noise to me indeed.

This year I have also discovered heartbreaking but joyful noise in the hearing of stories of lives well lived – often told by the loved ones of those taken from us by COVID-19. There is joyful noise in the inspiring stories of so many doctors and nurses doing everything they can for those in their care. And in the countless stories of people working tirelessly and with great creativity to aid and support to so many in need. Without question, this has been an extraordinarily difficult moment in time. And yet, we know we are not alone in this. Never alone in this. We may be socially distant and wearing masks… but our Lord is always with us. By our side, comforting, sustaining, and working through us as we care for and comfort others.

And so, notwithstanding our current trials, I accept the psalmist’s invitation to “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises.” Will you join me?

Joseph Gomes

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