Leadership Focus: Joy
Psalm 96 (NRSV)
1 O sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples.
4 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be revered above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
6 Honor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
7 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts.
9 Worship the Lord in holy splendor;
tremble before him, all the earth.
10 Say among the nations, “The Lord is king!
The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved.
He will judge the peoples with equity.”
11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12 let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
13 before the Lord; for he is coming,
for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with his truth.
“Sing to the Lord a new song”. Surely not in the midst of a pandemic that has claimed a million lives, and facing a recession that is disrupting so many lives! Surely it is a time for lament and sorrow, not joyful singing. Yes, we lament with the hurting and weep with those who weep, but there is a place for joy that lifts the heart, and causes a new kind of song to be sung.
My African-American friends tell me that for them joy is a mark of Christian leadership today in the face of racial abuse. The tougher the struggle, the louder they sing. Joy in the face of recession can be an act of protest and defiance. The psalmist urges the nations to “ascribe to the Lord glory and strength” — an active choice rather than a passing mood.
This is not whistling in the dark, but a determined declaration that “the Lord reigns”. The psalmist’s song joins the great chorus of creation as the seas roar and the “trees of the forest sing for joy”. He calls the music of the heavens to accompany his singing. This joy is rooted in the future hope that the Lord “will judge the world with righteousness” — God will put right the wrongs.
Leaders who see that far ahead — and see that far above — will sing to the Lord a new song.
What hymn, psalm or worship song comes to mind?
Sing it to yourself. Sing it out as an act of defiant praise.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
All that is within me,
bless his holy name.
For the Lord God, the omnipotent reigns.
And he shall reign forever and ever.
Make it a theme tune for the day — whatever the day may bring.