Psalm 100 has always been a favorite of mine, so I was glad to see it in the lectionary this week. I memorized the KJV version as a child, but I love The Message translation of verse two – “sing yourselves into his presence.” Singing does bring my heart near to God, and I am never nearer to Him than when I’m singing. Listen to the sweetest hymn of invitation I know. It reminds me of who I am and Who God is and makes me want to stand up and sing out loud.
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.
I used to consider my singing a joyful noise because I was self conscious about my voice. During Holy Week of 2009, I sang in front of a small group of people with the help of a dear friend who encouraged me to go beyond thinking of noise and put my focus on God. When I did that and followed his lessons in breathing, I began to sing differently. I sing with abandon now, and I don’t worry about anything other than making sure my voice comes from a grateful heart and is directed at a loving God who enjoys nothing more than hearing His beloved children sing in a harmony only love can produce.
Take time to sing today and every day. I love listening to and singing with children because they sing with abandon and don’t care if I miss a note or forget a word. The harmony God loves isn’t about perfecting my performance; He’s just listening for love and joy among His children. Thanksgiving is a perfect time to start singing because it is a time when our hearts are filled with gratitude. Let it bubble up to the surface and sing “Thank you!” in your best two-year-old voice. Some may consider it noise, but that’s only because their own hearts are not ready to sing. Just smile and keep on singing, and maybe they’ll sing along with you.