Friday, December 17th
Clap your hands, all you peoples;
shout to God with loud songs of joy.
For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome,
a great king over all the earth.
Psalm 47:1-2 (NRSV)
For you shall go out in joy,
and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall burst into song,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Isaiah 55:12 (NRSV)
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands… ~ Well-known children’s song
Applause is not opinion. Applause is a feeling of love for the artist. ~ Vaslav Nijinsky
I have attended a few worship services in which clapping has been discouraged. The intention is that the musicians and speakers are not performing but using their gifts to praise and serve God. They want the gratitude and glory to go to God, not to them. But oh my, there have been times when a certain song or message has overwhelmed the listeners with joy and awe, and everyone has spontaneously applauded. Joy is difficult to contain! And I imagine God loves to see and hear our “inappropriate” joy, don’t you?
There have been times when I have clapped my hands, not to applaud a performance, but simply out of the sheer joy of the moment. I have clapped when movie heroes appeared, after reading a happy ending to a book, as I stood before glorious sunsets, upon hearing good news, at the presence of dear ones at our door, when reaching the summit of a hiking hill. Each time, my impromptu applause broke out because I had been overwhelmed with the joy of excitement, awe, wonder, or relief!
Today we are invited to use our hands to clap for joy, to praise and thank God, and to share a “feeling of love for the artist,” as Vaslav Nijinsky says. Let’s be mindful to notice the miracle in the moments, to appreciate something that we might normally take for granted or let go unnoticed. Let’s display our exuberance for God’s incredible goodness as we shine with joy, as we stand in awe, as we applaud with deep gratitude! Let’s clap with that feeling of deep love for the artist, our Artist, who has created all good things for us to appreciate and enjoy.
Applaud. Where will you behold the goodness of God today and clap with joy and love?
Prayer: God, you are our source of deepest joy, you are the creator of all that is good. May I especially feel overwhelmed by the joy of knowing and loving YOU this day. May my spirit and my heart break out with gleeful and joyful applause even for the gift of life itself. Thank you, God, for your exuberant joy that uplifts and surprises. May the joy you bring within me keep sparking joy for others, too. Amen.