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Make a Joyful Noise!

The front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer on Thursday, September 23rd featured an article entitled, Beach and Moan. The writer, Amy Rosenberg, spent a page and a half complaining about complainers. She wrote, “It was a perfectly nice summer down at the Shore. Why did people spend so much time complaining?” This summer, the weather was great, masks were off, restaurants and stores were fully open. Shore towns were thriving as people were finally free to vacation again! But still, so many complaints! Flies… teenagers… heat… humidity… land breezes… visitors… bicycles… teenagers on bicycles… cars… golf carts… flags… dogs… the cost of ice cream… flies again… water park lines… parents of those teens… tides… trash… the help… the lack of help… Complaints on Facebook were relentless. The town of Margate ‘paused’ their Facebook page because they were tired of the unceasing complaints. Last year, people were thankful to be anywhere that was not the confines of their own home. This year, people’s filters are gone, their civility absent.
Like many of us, I remember my mother teaching me that if I did not have something nice to say, I should not say anything at all. We have forgotten that lesson. People now feel empowered to ‘speak their truth’ regardless of the caustic nature of their comments. How many of us have received an email that would have been better left unsent? How many of us should have refrained from pressing ‘send’ on that less-than-thoughtful email? From nasty school board meetings to comments made in the grocery store line, we have forgotten how to be kind and thoughtful in what we say. The Bible tells stories of our human propensity to complain. Do you remember the Israelites after God rescued them from slavery in Egypt? God provided manna and quail to eat and water from springs in the desert. God led them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night with the goal of reaching the Promised Land- flowing with milk and honey. But still the people complained. They even yearned to go back to Egypt, somehow conveniently forgetting the sting of the Egyptian whip. More often our complaint is aimed at the people around us. In his New Testament letter, James describes the tongue as a fire of evil… full of deadly poison. He writes: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. (James 3:9) Why are we so quick to complain?
Into this culture of complaint, we hear the simple call to make a joyful noise. That call to gracious speech applies not only to our worship of God, but also to our interaction with one another.
Encourage one another. Build each other up. I Thessalonians 5:11
Be kind and compassionate to one another… Ephesians 4:32
Love is patient and kind… I Corinthians 13:4
The writer of Proverbs reminds us: Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul, healthy for the body. (Proverbs 16:24) The corollary is equally true. When we spew toxic words out of our mouth, or type them onto our computer screen, that venom infects our whole being, leaving us more discontent and even angry. Make a joyful noise is a prescription for a healthy and grace-full life.
This week, instead of complaining about the complainers, I want to lift up people in our community who make a joyful noise. My first thought is of Laura in our front office, the face of our faith community. Her kindness sets the standard for all of us. The other day, I listened as Laura greeted one person after the next, calling each by name, treating each with respect, sending each on their way with an encouraging word. I think of our Deacons who speak a kind word in phone calls, cards, and emails. And their gracious welcome to all who come through the doors of Lenape Valley inspires us to extend that welcome to one another. I think of Amie and her team of Sunday School teachers who invite our children into Fellowship Hall every Sunday to hear the Good News of Jesus. Together they are raising a joyful Holy Roar! I am thankful for those of you who are intentional about sending a card or an email with a kind word to our staff, encouraging them as they serve. In one gathering after another, I witness your kindness to one another, even when you disagree. Blessed be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love! The other day I observed a simple moment of kindness… It happened in the Giant grocery store next to LVC. One of our people was checking out. She called the checker by name and remembered to thank him when her transaction was complete. As she left the store, I asked her if she knew the young checker. She said, “No, I just read his name off his nametag.” Kindness is found in the simple things, a word, a name, a smile… How much our community needs a taste of that sweet honey!
There is one more person that I want to celebrate today, whose years of service has enabled a joyful noise to spread far and wide. Today, Marlin Taylor will be inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Association (SGMA) Hall of Fame in Pigeon Forge, TN. Marlin was a pioneer in the radio industry, helping to develop XM radio. He established the station “Enlighten” which expanded the reach of Southern Gospel music, bringing the good news of Jesus into millions of households. Marlinwe are thankful for your service and your example!
In a world that delights in complaining, may we make a joyful noise, celebrating God’s goodness in the people and the experiences all around us. With you making a joyful noise TODAY!
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