“May everything that breathes praise the Lord!” Saying those words immediately brings to my mind the twirling bodies and grinning faces of sisters Grace and Lindsay. Ages four and one, they fill our small church sanctuary each Sunday with an infectious delight.
Rhythm instruments such as a tambourine, rain sticks and gourd shakers are kept at the front of the church for children to pick up and use as we sing the first hymn. Each of the sisters has a favorite. Gracie likes the rain stick, a long section of wood filled with seeds that sound like raindrops when the stick is turned over. Lindsay often chooses the tambourine, shaking its metal disks and drumming on its surface at the same time.
Psalm 150, last of the book of Psalms, sums up the exuberance the Lindsay and Grace exhibit, free of self-consciousness. While we choose quiet music for our community prayer time, we often begin or end our worship with gospel tunes that lend themselves to rhythm instruments and clapping.
Loud noise does not automatically lead to godly reflection, to be sure. High-decibel amplified sound can drown out the sound of human singing and speech, whether in worship service or on a radio broadcast. Keeping the praise connection personal and direct seem to foster a balance between exuberance and quietness.
Children can truly lead the adults when it comes to gathering with joyful noise. The spontaneous singing and dancing of Grace and Lindsay bring energy into our Sunday worship, whether they are sitting on the chancel steps or dancing to “Jesus Loves Me” as the go off to Sunday school. Their contagious joy makes each person feel a part of “everything that breaths” in God’s creation.
God of all music and all children, give me ears to hear and eyes to see your love in exuberant sounds of children. Help me remember that I am a beloved child in your eyes so I can praise you with every breath of my being. Amen.