February 8, 2018
This past Sunday our focus was Psalm 48 and we noted that the arc of that Psalm follows the flow of the worship we experience every Sunday. First we gather. We process into the worship space and festive music leads us in. Psalm 48 is a Psalm of Ascent and would have been chanted (or sung) as worshipers climbed the hill on which the temple was built as a way of preparing for worship. As they did this they offered Psalms of praise to God. Next, we meditate on God’s Word. Similarly, the heart of Psalm 48 is v. 9, which says that we “ponder God’s love in the midst of the temple.” Once the worshipers arrived in the temple there is a different focus. “Pondering,” or reflecting, meditation on, etc… In our worship today we experience this as the anthem, scripture reading, sermon and communion. Finally, Psalm 48 ends with the people being sent back out for the purpose of telling others that God will be our guide forever. We, too, are “sent out” with a benediction at the close of each service.
As our men’s bible study was reflecting on this Psalm again this past Tuesday, we noted that we do a good job of focusing on the first two of those three things – the gathering and the meditating. But how well do we do the third? The “going out” and telling others, in word and action, of the God we experienced inside the sanctuary? We agreed that this “telling and sharing” of the greatness of God is the opportunity we are not taking advantage of as well as we could be.
Children don’t have near the inhibitions that adults do. This is a well-known fact. Which is why we can usually learn something from them, especially as it relates to faith. For going on six years now, I have helped lead weekly chapel services for the children of our preschool. We gather for 15-20 minutes every Wednesday in the friendship center and Don and I lead them in singing and Tina or I lead them in an object lesson and prayer. But we always – and I mean always – conclude chapel with a singing of “This Little Light of Mine.”
There’s a beautiful phenomenon that occurs during every – and yes I mean every – singing of that song, no matter the week, season or year. The song’s first verse (“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine”) starts out reasonably well. Probably a mezzo-forte as the children are getting warmed up a bit. Most of us are have our “lights” in the air (index finger pointing to the sky) and we’re starting to wave them back and forth while we sing. But it’s the second verse that really gets things going. The words are “Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine.” As we sing this verse, we cup our off hand and place it over our “light” while we sing “Hide it under a bushel?” On the word “no,” the cupped hand is lifted off so the light can shine again.
Now… the amazing thing is that every – and again I literally mean every – we sing this verse, the children scream “NO!” as the uncover their light and let it shine again. The word “No” resonates and reverberates throughout the friendship center. They scream it with great gusto and all the energy they can muster. It is a Pavarotti-esque fortissimo!!! It is truly the high point of the song. Week after week. Season after season. Year after year. It’s as though the children instinctively know and understand the sending out portion of Psalm 48. We are given the light of Christ in worship not to hide it inside our hearts, families and close circles of friends, but so the world may know and experience the love of God in Jesus Christ that we do. The thought of not sharing it – of hiding it – is so antithetical to faith and discipleship that you simply have to scream “No!” at the mere mention of it.
Michael E. Karunas, pastor