1 Chronicles is probably not a book in the bible we go to frequently. It contains a lot of lists, genealogical information, records of battles, leaders, and tribes. Even the narrative parts focus more on who than what and why. It can be as dry as reading an old school phone book or through just the names on your friend list on social media or contacts in your phone. But tucked in here and there, 1 Chronicles provides an unexpected nugget worth pondering.
This passage chronicles King David, the elders, and the leaders as they bring the chest to Jerusalem. Their assignment was complete, and they took the opportunity to celebrate. This was for the first occasion that David called the priests and the people to worship, and it begins with David’s song of praise!
Of course, David is not the only worshipper in the Bible. Long before this, Miriam’s song echoed through another gathered assembly and informed the life of the people as did Moses. How many times have we been encouraged to sing a new song in the Psalms and the prophets? In the New Testament,
we remember Mary’s song of praise as well as Zechariah, Paul and Silas singing during the night behind prison bars, and the dramatic and cosmic worship found in Revelation, when we dare to read it.
Not all of those occasions were markings of a job done or an assignment fulfilled. Some signaled the beginning of something new, Mary’s prophetic revelation of the coming of Jesus through her assenting to God’s plan. Zechariah’s joy in the birth of his son John the Baptist. Those were the beginnings of stories with uncertain endings.
In the Continuing Testament, as we recognize that God is still speaking and has never stopped speaking, we hear echoes of the drumbeats of native peoples honoring sacred land, the hopeful plea and determination of Spirituals birthed on plantations and carried through Reconstruction, Jim Crow
and the Civil Rights movement. We give thanks for the creative new songs, dance, poetry, and art of a new generation of activists, freedom fighters and agents of liberation in our time.
There is joy to be found even in the most trying of circumstances. And we live in trying times.
Confronted daily with loss. Surrounded by grief. A new clean water crisis in Jackson, MS, continued gun violence, political and civil discord, the erosion of human rights, war around the globe, an evolving but unending pandemic, and a church with many more questions than answers in a present that seems as uncertain as the future.
There can be a tendency to fret, to be stuck in analysis, or to do the things we are comfortable doing. There’s space and need for lament. But there’s also room and need for joy. To rejoice in what we can observe as the Spirit’s movement
among us, to celebrate how God has used our work and witness to empower, to redeem, and to liberate. To focus on every good thing that we can to encourage us to continue our ministry in hope and expectation.
In joy and justice,
Let us encourage one another. Let us love our neighbor. Let us be the church.