Shout for Joy to the Lord


Contributing Writer
Pastor Scott Hannon
St. John Lutheran Church Amherst, NY

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,

burst into jubilant song with music.
Psalm 98:4

I’ve always thought the church was kind of like an orchestra—only in lieu of strings, reed instruments, percussion and brass, we have teachers, singers, bakers and worship assistants. In an orchestra you need all of the instruments, from the piccolo to the tuba, for the song to reach it’s full potential. The same thing is true for a church. But having all the instruments still isn’t enough. Each instrument also needs to be reading the same music and playing to the same beat.

Concerning instruments… St. Paul writes in scripture, “There are a varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given a Spiritual gift for the common good.” (I Corinthians 12:4-6) God has gifted you with your own talents. You have been given that gift so that you might play your part in our orchestra. In an orchestra it is the culmination of instruments and sounds which creates beautiful music. The same thing is true for our church.    

Concerning music… In Revelation thousands and thousands of living creatures and elders sing to God, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might!” (5:11). That might sound familiar to you. It could – many congregations sing it every Sunday. Our song is a hymn of praise to God. It is a song of love and thanksgiving. The notes sound off with each act of justice and grace. The melody rings for all the world to see with each of our acts of faith and love.

Concerning rhythm… St. Paul writes in scripture, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5) The goal is not to have your heart beat in rhythm with mine nor to have mine beat in rhythm with yours, but to have our hearts beat in rhythm with God’s.

Through worship, the reading of scripture, and sharing in the Lord’s Supper our hearts are pulled into rhythm with God’s. Like musicians following the conductor, we follow Christ as we seek to make a joyful noise to the Lord. 

The song we are playing is a tune filled with grace, peace, love and joy. The parts needed to play are worshippers and ministers, singers and readers, teachers and painters and so much more. Our leader is none other than Christ himself.

Thank you for playing your part when you worship. If you feel like you have a gift that would add to the “song” at your church, then please, start a conversation about how to make that happen. If you feel out of sync, like you’ve lost your place, or can’t hear the beat, talk about that too with your pastor or priest or the spiritual leader of your congregation. God has placed you there and you are a valuable part of the orchestra wherever you worship.


PSALM 150:

Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with clanging cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!

Let’s make music,

Pastor Scott