15–21 October 2017.

Psalm 96 (click to read).

Have you ever noticed that in so many ads and on so many billboards the models are almost never smiling? Look through any fashion magazine and you will see photo after photo of models with serious expressions, angry and dramatic faces, but hardly ever a real smile. That’s so strange, and it’s something that makes me sad to see. That’s because there’s nothing that makes a person more beautiful than a real smile. To see joy on a person’s face, to see their eyes light up with happiness – that’s such a beautiful thing.

Happiness is an important part of our life in the church too. We talk about the church as a community that seeks truth and that works for justice. But the church should also be a community of joy, a congregation of people filled with the happiness of life. After all, Christ came to bring us good news: the news of God’s love for the whole world. Isn’t that something to celebrate and be glad about?

In Psalm 96, the writer also encourages us to rejoice, to celebrate, to be glad. God rules the world, the Lord is King, and that’s a reason to smile. It’s our God who rules the world, and not any other god or king. It’s our God who holds this world in his hands – and he brings justice and fairness, righteousness and truth. He brings meaning to our lives, surrounding us with love and blessings, and he wants us to be glad and to rejoice in the light of his love.

That’s why especially in the church we want to put anger and hate and meanness behind us, and instead spread the joy of God and his good news. We want to join with all creation in shouting out in joy because we have a God who loves us! In vv. 11 and 12 we read that the heavens are glad, the earth rejoices, the sea and all the animals in it roar out their praises to God, and the fields of the earth and all the animals also rejoice and praise God. Verse 12 tells us that even all the trees of the forest sing for joy.

If all of nature is rejoicing, how much more should we (who actually have mouths to sing and smile!) also praise God and show off our joy? How wonderful it would be if the whole world could celebrate together with us too? I hope one day that God will look down on us and see our incredible joy, and see the beautiful sight of his whole creation celebrating and smiling back at him!

Pastor Stephen Lakkis