Summary: We should worship with JOY, and our worship should have an impact on our lives.

Two young boys were walking down the street in downtown Atlanta when out from an alley a Pit Bull suddenly appeared and attacked one of the boys. The other boy grabbed a 2x4 lying near the alley and beat the dog to death and saved his friend’s life.

A reporter from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution got wind of the story and requested an interview from the first boy. He ran the story on the front page and the headline read: “Braves Fan Bravely Saves Friend’s Life From A Rabid Dog.”

The boy called the reporter and said, “I’m not a Braves fan.” The reporter said, “Well, I just thought that since you are from Atlanta that you would be a Braves fan. I’ll correct the mistake in tomorrow’s paper.”

The next day the front page read: “Falcon Fan Rescues Friend’s Life From Rabid Dog.”

The boy again called the reporter and said, “I’m not a Falcon fan either!”

The reporter asked, “Are you a fan of sports at all?”

The boy said, “Yes. In fact, I am a die-hard fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers.”

The reporter agreed to note the change in the next day’s newspaper. The next day the front page read: “Beloved Family Pet Killed By Yankee Idiot!”

Well, obviously, that was the reporter’s viewpoint. And it was, without question, a rather biased viewpoint – even though throughout the country there are certainly many people who might be sympathetic to it.

Well, everyone has his or her opinion.

How do you feel about President Bush? Who you voting for? What’s you favorite food? Which is the best school? And just where is the northern border of Georgia?

Get into any of these discussions, and there are all sorts of opinions.

Worship is no different.

Ask a Pentecostal and the answer may well be given with the same wonderful emotional passion in which a Pentecostal experiences worship.

Ask an Episcopalian, and you may listen to how moved he or she is by the inspired literature of the Book of Common Prayer.

Ask two people, and one will answer about the music of Handel or the organ or the strings and brass. Ask another, and that person will answer with comments of how wonderful it was to have the guitar and the drums.

“Come, and worship,” Psalm 95 teaches us.

But how?

With joy!

“Come, let us sing for joy,” says our Old Testament lesson.

We do a lot of things, just for the fun of it.

For example, earlier this week, my son was visiting for a couple of nights and he came into my bedroom and asked, “Have you seen the front yard lately?”

“Noooo. Why?”

“Oh it’s bad,” he said. “It’s really bad.”

So I went outside and found my lawn covered with plastic spoons and knives and forks. Not a few of them, but hundreds of them. All of them were sticking up out of my lawn. On the drive way and the sidewalk there was a substance of some sort. I’m not familiar with it, but I’m told it was something called, “Shaving cream.” It spelled out words and phrases, like, “Manny Rocks.” My son asked, “Do you think the youth group from the church did this?

And I said, “NO! Our youth group is led by an awesome lady. Katie Gomola Arnold would never, ever let the youth group do something like that to MY lawn.”

But there on the drive way was a vital clue. Written in Shaving Cream were the initials “GSPC.”

GSPC? GSPC? Ah – Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church!

Katie and the youth group!

So later that week, the Associate Pastor and I stole the door from Katie’s office and hid it in the Music Director’s office.

Of course, all of this was done in fun. Just for the joy of it.

We do a lot of things for the sake of joy.

Have you ever been on a picnic? Who in his or her right mind would want to sit on a hard ground with ants and bugs crawling around and eat cold fried chicken in an open field that has no heating or air conditioning? But we do it, because there is something about it that is a joy.

We go to sporting events, because it is a joy.

We go to the movies, because it is a joy.

We visit friends and family, because it is a joy.

And that is one reason why we worship – it is a joy.

Worship should have a sense of joy.

Why are we here? For the joy of it.

Come and worship!

Come and sing with joy.

And worship should also have a sense of awe and wonder.

I know, I know – my sermons are not always full of awe and wonder and inspiration.

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