Monday, July 13, 2009

Sermon, Proper 10B, 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19

What brings you joy? What makes you joyful? What makes you sing and shout? What makes you get up and move and groove and bust a move?

Sporting events have that affect on some people. Just watch a soccer match during the World Cup. Or catch a Monday Night Football game, especially when it's held in Oakland. Closer to home, watch how people get uber-excited during the Twin-Sheridan game. People get incredibly excited and passionate about their sports.

Maybe it's not sports. Maybe it's music. Some music just has a way of getting people tapping their toes and up and dancing. Buddy Holly, Bill Haley, The Beach Boys, The Kingsmen, Aretha Franklin and The Cars are good examples of music that moves people. My daughter has recently discovered swing and the Andrews Sisters (among others) and she likes to sing and dance to that. I, however, have been banned from ever dancing or singing anywhere near her presence, let alone in public.

The point is that there are a variety of things that get people excited and motivated; everything from sports to cars to gardening to music. And when we are excited about something, we tell other people. I love talking football with people. My grandmother talked about her plants. My niece talks about dancing. We tell people about a great restaurant or movie. We tell people about what we enjoy.

What excites you? What brings you joy? Is God on that list? Is church on that list? This is the place where we chose to worship God. It is here that we delve into the mystery of the living God. It is here that we work to build a community of faith. It is here that we work to grow this place together.

And because we choose to be here, we must get excited about it at some level; we must garner some joy, because we seem to be telling people about it and inviting them to join us. Last week we had 31 people in attendance. Cars were parked down the block. That excited me. That made me want to dance in the aisle -- woo hoo!

But even without the high numbers, we should still draw excitement and joy from our worship. David certainly did. As he brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, he "danced . . . with all his might." For David, worshiping the Lord brought great excitement and joy. So much so that he was willing to embarass himself in front of his subjects and his wife Michal.

Which got me thinking . . . how would it be if I danced with all my might during service? What would it be like if, during the procession, I leapt and danced before the Lord, or if I moonwalked down the rail while distributing communion? I'm betting that there are certain people here who would rather hear me preach on the evils of the Republican party every Sunday than watch me dance my way up and down the aisle.

This is why I think Michal was an Episcopalian. There David was, dancing and leaping around in a loincloth being (as one colleague put it) totally open to God. He was being foolish. He didn't care what people thought. And Michal didn't approve of it becuase he wasn't worshiping decently and in order. She's like a lot of us who look down on people with different worshiping styles.

Here's an admission: one of the hardest things for me to do is to attend other services without critiquing or criticizing them. When I was in Atlanta during the preaching conference, I attended a worship service every day, sometimes two and three times a day. It was very hard for me to simply worship since I was often too busy grading the liturgy.

How would it be, though, and how might this place be different, if we allowed ourselves to be a little excited, a little joyful and a little foolish for the Lord? Decently and in order, of course. What might that look like? Well, I have some ideas.

First, we would sing a little more loudly and boldly. Granted, not all of our hymns allow for this, and we have some people who are learning to be Episcopalians and aren't familiar with all the hymns; but what if we made a conscious effort to sing more boldly? Take some time before service to not just mark the hymns, but to see if you know them or if you can hear them in your head.

Second, we would be surer of ourselves in our responses. There are some things that we say all the time every time, whether it's Rite I, Rite II A, B, C or D. What if we worked on saying those responses like we knew they were coming, rather than like we weren't sure where they were, or like we didn't want to be too loud in case we were wrong. "The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark -- GLORY TO YOU, LORD CHRIST."

Third, we could make our amens and alleluias more forceful. Remember, the Great Amen after the Eucharistic prayer on page 363 is in ALL CAPS for a reason. We should say that like we mean it. And I know the allulias are punctuated with a period, but why not say them as if they had an exlamation point instead?

Finally, today is the Lord's Day; the first day of the week. This is the day when God said, "Let there be light." This is the day when Jesus overcame death and the grave and rose to new life. This is the day when we share in that heavenly banquet by being fed with spiritual food. What if we lived and worshiped as if this were the first day of light, or the day we saw the resurrected Christ? Wouldn't that be worth celebrating joyfully and excitedly?

If we worship with more purpose and more boldness, then maybe, just maybe, that will carry over into the rest of the week. Maybe we'll see church as fun and joyful. Maybe we'll begin to pass on that sense of excitement and joy to others around us. Maybe, like David, we'll be willing to be fools for the Lord . . . decently and in order, of course.

So be bold, be joyful, be excited; it just might change you -- it just might change US.


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