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I do a lot of writing in my work… a Sunday sermon, a Wednesday message, Bible Studies, letters, Funeral messages (far too many of these of late!), and my Tuesday letter that I am working on right now.  I used to write in my office, but I learned quickly how hard that is to do.  Imagine having a rambunctious class of 3-year-olds on one side, a class of crying 2-year-olds on another, and children waiting in the hallway for the bathroom just outside your door.  Needless to say, there is never a moment of peace at LVC.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love all that noise!  I love that our space is used throughout the week to care for and educate little ones.  I love their antics and their friendly waves.  I love how proud they are of their mask fashions.  I love the chaos of Fellowship Hall when they let the little ones loose to play!  But all that noise makes it near to impossible to concentrate on writing.  Thus, I stay home on writing days to claim the peace and quiet of my study.  Until today!
Today as I try to concentrate, there is a backhoe in the creek behind my house.  They have fixed a jackhammer type instrument where the scoop usually is. That instrument is pounding away at a cement slab and pipe on the edge of the creek at the corner of our property.  Imagine that noise!  The repetitious rap…rap… rap… penetrating the safe haven of my home even with the windows closed.  In concert with the backhoe are the sounds of the roofers two doors up, the tree trimmers next door, and the person mowing his lawn across the street.  This symphony of noise offers great fodder for a Tuesday message but steals away the peace needed to write.  Noise!  So much noise…
It seems that we are surrounded by noise these days, not just from construction and preschoolers, but from every angle of life.  The news media, competing politicians, protesting crowds and angry drivers, robo-calls enticing us to donate or buy, even eblasts from your church trying to stay connected with you through a pandemic.  We welcome some of the noise.  We even call some of it a “joyful noise”, like the sounds of our EPIC kids playing Scatterball in Fellowship Hall on Friday night. Our little ones will sing in worship on Sunday- that will be a joyful noise!  The chatter before worship as we greet one another … voices raised in song as we praise our Lord… the ring of the phone when family calls… the greeting of a friend across the aisle at the grocery story– all joyful noises that bless us during the day.  God calls us to share in creating joyful noise as a blessing.
But then there are all the other noises…

Many of you know that I am a ‘visiting pastor’.  I love to get out where my people are, to walk with them through the ‘valleys’ of life and celebrate the mountain top moments.  Often when I enter a home, I hear noise in the background… the TV… a radio… Alexa playing tunes… We use noise to fill the empty spaces, making our homes feel less lonely.  We use noise to lift our spirits and focus us on the good and the beautiful in God’s world.  Sometimes we use noise to drown out our own thoughts.  And sometimes noise is our escape from the demands of the world, like the mindless television I watch after a hard day.  Noise!  Noise is not inherently bad, nor is it always good.  But the noise we allow into our space always seeps into our minds and hearts, thus we should be discerning about what noise we embrace.  Does the noise in your life encourage you, educate you, deepen your faith, connect you with others, call you to God’s good action in this world?  Or does the noise in your life make you angry, dissatisfied, argumentative, or even numb?
I visited Bert Schillo the other day.  If you don’t know Bert- he is one of the founding members of our church.  At 96, he is still intentional about growing in his faith, so every morning, he begins his day with gospel music.  He blessed me with a little taste by sharing a video of a woman singing “Give Me Jesus”.  Bert instinctively knows that what he puts into his mind and heart impacts his day.  I needed that reminder as I hurry around, filling the empty spaces with noise I seldom censor.  But today, I chose to begin my day in silence, listening as I ran to the sounds of wind and birds.  Then I added to God’s natural symphony a new song Matthias introduced to me- Peace by We The Kingdom. If you get a moment, listen to that song and let the strains of the music calm your heart.  ( )
Choose your noise wisely today, that your heart and mind will be bathed in God’s grace-full strains of joy.  And share those strains with a friend.

With you listening to God’s joyful noise,

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