O be joyful in the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness,
And come before His presence with a song,
Be ye sure that the Lord he is God
It is he that hath made us.
And not we ourselves;
We are his people,
And the sheep of His pasture.
O go your way into his gates with thanksgiving,
And into his courts with praise;
Be thankful unto him,
And speak good of his Name.
For the Lord is gracious,
His mercy is everlasting;
And his truth endureth from generation to generation.
- Psalm 100 Jubilate Deo
I think old neglected friendships may be among the most rewarded beneficiaries of the Covid pandemic. I have filled parts of the long days, sheltered-in-place, reaching out to touch old friendships. I’m talking, deeply ingrained, loving friendships from my my childhood and adolescence, and even into my young adulthood. I’m talking about people with whom I laughed and sang and danced, and with whom I shared the ability to complete one another’s sentences.
I have been reaching out to friends with whom I allowed connections to languish. I need them to know that they still matter. I want them to know, in some cases, they changed the trajectory of my life; either with substance or with serial mischief. To the person, I have been rewarded with the shared realization that the connections were not lost, just obscured. I found that we remembered the song and the dance (Thank you, Irma Thomas); we still tasted the salt of common tears; we had total recall on the laughter, and we took common credit for shouldering shared struggles.
The stories of “childhood” say who we are and, more importantly, they say how we are connected; for it is in the connections that we find the meaning.
So it was this week, when the Jubilate Deo came up in the lectionary as source material for this meditation. I was reunited with an old friend. Not the rude translation that speaks of making a loud noise before the Lord; no, the translation above, that begins with being “joyful in the Lord.”
Psalm 100 became an old friend for me during the normal morning prayer services In the 1950’s. The Jubilate Deo was always there, playing “happy” just in front of the bossy Creed.
In my reacquaintance with this old friend, I hear a love-song that is a call to embrace the Ultimate Friendship. I am called to stand before my friend, God the Almighty, with joy in my heart, certain in the acceptance that my friend is the Lord is God; and I am not. My friend invites me out into the streets to play games where the object of the game is not to win, but to remain engaged and at play, across the generations. My friend, the Lord promises unbroken loyalty, love, and honesty. God asks of me the same.
We are grateful to you, Lord, for the friendships you have steered our way as deeply meaningful form-givers for our earthly lives. We look to them for faint understanding of the ineffable friendship you offer us, from generation to generation. Grant us the daring to close our eyes and fall, by faith, into play with you. Amen.