“At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth…” ~Matthew 11:25
The words at the beginning of this passage in Matthew that lead directly to our Lord’s little prayer of thanksgiving refer to that time in Jesus’ life when he’s having to answer questions about his mission and denounce unrepentant cities. John the Baptist is openly questioning the Messiahship of Jesus. His closest family and friends in the fishing villages around Galilee are ignoring his message.
How do you think all this rejection made Jesus feel? How do you think Jesus was doing at that time?
With one word, how would you describe your current situation? Where are you right now? In one word, what’s going on with you at this time?
Content? Frustrated? Happy? Angry? Confused? Overwhelmed? Hectic? Depressed? Worried? Confident? Scared?
Jesus seems pretty confident that his heavenly Father is behind these perceived setbacks and that these disappointments are actually a part of God’s holy will. And he gives thanks. Jesus gives thanks for the problems he’s encountering and praises God for working in them to spread the Word and advance the Kingdom.
The powerful and unstoppable energies of the Kingdom of God are always moving, always growing, always surging just beneath the surface. All around us. Huge rivers of prayer and faith and hope and praise and forgiveness and salvation and rescue and holiness flow right by us every day. In every single nook and cranny, hidden in the shadows, overlooked in the crowds, drowned out sometimes by the noise, are the eternal works of our gracious Redeemer.
So, like our Lord, we give thanks. At that time. At this time. We give thanks.
Two Sundays ago Kevin Schaffer, our marvelously talented worship minister, stopped us down right in the middle of song to correct our clapping. We were singing “King of Kings.” You know how it goes: King of kings and Lord of lords, glory (CLAP!) Hallelujah. And our congregation was butchering the clapping. We were clapping before the word, during the word, after the word; it was a mess. Near the end of the first stanza, Kevin had had enough and he stopped us.
“We are going to learn how to clap. And we’re going to start with just one. Just one clap. Do it with me…”
And he proceeded to teach us and show us how to clap. It worked really well. Kevin was very patient with us and we all had a good laugh. After we had practiced together for a few minutes, it actually sounded pretty good the second time around. There’s hope here at Central.
I was reminded of that episode by a blog post written by Jon Acuff. It’s called “Clapping Our Hands: A Step-By-Step Guide to the Death of Rhythm.” A dear friend of mine forwarded it to me this morning. Jon hilariously nails the reasons our churches have a hard time clapping during congregational singing and gets inside the minds of the congregants to show us what everybody’s really thinking as the song begins, why the clapping is all over the place, and why it dies out completely before the song’s even over. It’s a quick, light, funny read about why our church clapping sounds like “somebody lit a box of hand firecrackers.” Click here to read it. And try to click on the downbeat, not the upbeat.