Psalm 98.4-6

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the Lord with the harp,
with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—
shout for joy before the Lord, the King.

As we peruse the pages of human history, we see a shameful amount of death, destruction, and violence in the name of religion. This was certainly true throughout the five century time span over which the Psalms were written. However, the overarching theology of the Psalms is one of hope and joy. Even while the Jewish people were constantly being exiled and returning home, only to be exiled again, they found constant reassurance in their faith—faith that God would bring them joy no matter where they found themselves. And they sang, danced, and clanged cymbals of joy about God’s faithfulness.

The Psalms, of course, were the hymns of the ancient world. One can imagine groups of Jewish worshippers singing together, just as we do in our modern churches today. We should never forget the heinous Inquisitions, Crusades, and Holocausts perpetrated in the name of God. Yet, those long, dark nights of unspeakable sorrow should also remind us that even in the most horrifying and repellant of times, God brings God’s people peace, hope, joy and love—no matter our human-made religions.

The point of every story in the Hebrew Bible, the Second Testament, the Apocrypha, the Qur’an, The Dhammapada, the Upanishads, etc., is that God loves every single one of us. So much, in fact, that even in times of unspeakable suffering God works tirelessly to remind us that we are never alone. God is ever-present, working within and through us, transforming us into lights of hope, peace, love, and joy—transforming us into the Christ, healers for a hurting world.

Our task as children of God is always to bring joy to people we encounter—even if (perhaps especially if) they want to do us harm. For even in the face of my enemies, I rest in the presence and serenity of the Lord my God, and I make joyous, triumphant, jubilant music to my King, my Lord of Love, my Prince of Peace so that I too will become and remain a Harbinger of Loving Hope.

May God always make it so.

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