The fourth movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 has been popularized in the "Ode to Joy," or, as it appears in countless hymnals (including our own), "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee." Henry van Dyke added the lyrics to Beethoven's tune, and now we all sing, "Joyful, joyful, we adore thee, / God of glory, Lord of love; / Hearts unfold like flow'rs before Thee, / Opening to the sun above." Aside from just being a really catchy tune, the song hits a major theme: our worship of God should be joyful.
We have all sat in church services devoid of that joy. (If we're honest, we've had more than a few of our own.) We leave knowing something was off somehow. We may be thankful Jesus died for us; we may be convicted of our sin; but we're not truly joyful. We don't go home from those worship services saying, "I'm so happy I was at church today! I love worshiping God like that!"
First Peter 1:8 says Christians "are filled with an inexpressible joy" because of our salvation through Christ Jesus. Yet the psalmist can also write, "Restore to me the joy of Your salvation" (Psalm 51:12). We can lose our joy in many ways: cares, anxieties, restlessness, discontent. In worship, we can lose our joy by shifting our focus away from God. If we make it about our performances, our spotlights, our plans, it's not worship; it's a show. To keep joy and worship in worship, we must follow the leadership of the Lord in humility and keep all things pointing towards Him.
Sunday comes every week. Let's decide each week to be joyful, joyful as we adore the God of heaven and earth.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!