Singing for joy
Many of my friends have discovered singing for joy. Or rather the joy of singing. They’ve joined local choirs and love the feeling that singing releases. They can’t get enough of it. My friend who’s just returned from a trip to Vienna and Salzburg with her choir would say that without a shadow of a doubt, singing is the most wonderful thing that she does. When she sings with the choir, she feels fully alive. She feels that everything is as it should be. She feels at one with the universe and that she is doing what she was born to do.
That’s great, isn’t it? Finding the thing that makes your soul sing. I hope that all of you out there have found that thing for yourselves, whatever that may be for you.
Whatever our thing, we can find ourselves singing for joy when we’re doing what we were born to do, what we’ve been called to do by the one true God. It’s weird because as we saw yesterday, deep joy is not dependent on external circumstances so although our situation may appear far from perfect and we may be facing many struggles, that joy bubbles up from deep inside our being until we can’t contain it any more.
Expressing joy is not very British. Or very grown up. Or seemingly appropriate. We try to act all cool and sophisticated and reserved, but joy is loud and vibrant and active. This joy makes us want to sing and dance. To twirl and whirl and jump up and down. To laugh and hug and shout aloud. Just like Mary, when we get a glimpse of the glorious miracle that we are fulfilling our role in the story of the whole universe, then we cannot keep our excitement from flowing out of us. I sit in church sometimes and look around and listen to the singing and wish that we could all express that joy a little more ‘outwardly’ in our expression of worship. It just isn’t the done thing, I guess. I wish it was.
And so Mary sings. She expresses her joy in words of praise. Mary’s song has been passed down to us and is known as the Magnificat. It’s hard to imagine she came up with something so polished and well-composed in one go. It’s possible of course, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but I prefer to think that in the three months that she spent with Elizabeth, that she worked on finding the words to express her joy every single day of those three months and that this song is the result of that ongoing song of praise.
My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me –
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants for ever,
just as he promised our ancestors.’ Luke 1:46-55
Putting our joy into words is not easy but it is important. That way, we can convey to others exactly why we feel the way that we feel. We want others to see the joy welling up from within and to notice the light shining from our eyes, of course we do. But when the words are there to accompany the joy, then that can be even more powerful. It’s about attributing our joy to the source of that joy.
Here’s my first offering, based on Mary’s song of joy. Maybe it will inspire you today to discover the joy deep in your soul and find some words to describe it.
My soul is singing.
When I think about God and who He is and what He has done, I can’t help it. My soul sings.
It blows my mind to think that the God of the whole universe wants anything to do with me. I cannot begin to imagine why I am important to Him, but I know that I am.
I know that I am blessed by God. Other people can see it too. There’s plenty of tough stuff going on all around me, and quite often within me, but God has His hand on my life. When I live the life He’s called me to live, then there’s that deep sense of blessing that nothing or no one can take away.
God has done great things for me. He’s bringing about a reconciliation with my daughter that I never believed was possible. He’s bringing new life and new hope into my family. He’s giving us a glimpse of a future for our kids that we could never have imagined. He’s showing me that I don’t have to live in the grip of negative thinking.
God is dealing with the arrogant and lifting up those who think they are nothing. He’s establishing an upside down kingdom that I am privileged to be a part of.
It’s OK to express weakness. It’s OK to have needs. It’s OK to live with limitations.
More than OK, because God can work with us in our weakness and flaws and limitations and mistakes and exhaustion and bring about something incredible.
What joy is this?! God loves me, just as I am. God wants to work with me and in me and around me, right here, right now.
Bring it on! That’s what I want to shout from the rooftops. Bring it on!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!