Zephaniah 3:14-20

14 Sing, Daughter Zion;
    shout aloud, Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
    Daughter Jerusalem!
15 The Lord has taken away your punishment,
    he has turned back your enemy.
The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you;
    never again will you fear any harm.
16 On that day
    they will say to Jerusalem,
“Do not fear, Zion;
    do not let your hands hang limp.
17 The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.”

18 “I will remove from you
    all who mourn over the loss of your appointed festivals,
    which is a burden and reproach for you.
19 At that time I will deal
    with all who oppressed you.
I will rescue the lame;
    I will gather the exiles.
I will give them praise and honor
    in every land where they have suffered shame.
20 At that time I will gather you;
    at that time I will bring you home.
I will give you honor and praise
    among all the peoples of the earth
when I restore your fortunes[e]
    before your very eyes,”
says the Lord.

Isaiah 12:2-6

Surely God is my salvation;
    I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense[a];
    he has become my salvation.”
With joy you will draw water
    from the wells of salvation.

In that day you will say:

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done,
    and proclaim that his name is exalted.
Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things;
    let this be known to all the world.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
    for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”

Rev. Sharron Blezard, a Lutheran pastor who just recently died following a battle with cancer, penned these words a few years ago about this week’s Advent theme.

“On this third Sunday of Advent, celebrate the JOY, be a steward of JOY. Dip not just the tip of your finger in the font, but rather splash your face and be reminded of your baptism. Give thanks to God with song and praise and prayer. Rejoice in the Lord. And then do it some more. Be prodigal and lavish with this gift of joy. God is doing a new thing, again and again and again.”

How does that invitation strike you? Are you one who is prone to such displays of Joy in worship? Or maybe the invitation makes you uncomfortable, maybe that kind of behavior isn’t your thing…

But I like that her invitation makes me squirm a bit. Maybe I’m too male… maybe I’m too Mennonite… maybe I’m just a stick in the mud old guy who doesn’t want to show such emotion. But whatever the reason, maybe I need to get in touch with and maybe even practice the kind of actions we hear her invite us to and that we read in the O.T. passages of Zephaniah and Isaiah that we have for today’s texts…

The biblical prophets we hear in those texts paint a picture of God and God’s people communicating in song. It seems that God’s “Love Language” must be singing! It’s what God does, according to the prophets, and it’s what God loves to hear in response…

As we prepare for our time together on Sunday, join me in pondering what this might mean for our own lives today, and if we think this O.T. picture still holds true for how God relates to us now.

Bring your thoughts, and bring your songs!