Certain people think you have to follow every Biblical instruction. I seriously doubt that they follow that dictum themselves, but they expect others to do so. My findings are that it is impossible to carry out every line of Biblical text, even if you skip breakfast. You have to pick and choose a little bit.
The Bible is somewhere north of a thousand pages, and I’m a slow reader. I can’t remember all of what I read, except the racy and gory parts. One of the instructions I try to follow is to make a “joyful noise to the Lord” every day. God and I talk on a regular basis. I am polite and say please and thank you. Good manners coupled with a daily dose of joyful noise may help my cause as a size 42 extra long sinner. I have been an irregular churchgoer in my life but I suspect that God will let that slide.
While millions of devout folks find church to be a delightful place, the worst experience of my life happened in a Methodist building after I was grown. I had been there a number of times before, and tried to always sit in about the same spot, so I could find my way out nice and easy. The seats were close to the door, but in a spot where I hoped I could blend in with other sinners, and not draw any attention. Well, on this particular Sunday, those seats were taken, and the place was full. I don’t recall why it was so full that day. Perhaps they were having their annual sale on redemption that week. We sat across the church from our usual comfortable seats, and wound up in a nest of old people. I learned this was a corner called the “Amen section.”
Methodists stand up to sing. In earlier experiences singing hymns, I would open my mouth and mumble, and then the real singers would drown me out. If you ever sit in the Amen corner, that strategy will not work. The amen corner is just where they park the old people who do sing. They continue to ignore the line from Psalms that says: “Make a Joyful noise unto the Lord”. Nobody in that group sings a lick. It was so dang quiet in that part of the church I could hear myself sing. My voice awakened numerous people in the Amen section, and a near riot ensued before order was restored. Nice-looking, gray-haired, well-dressed Christian women were climbing over pews to get to me and shouts of “Sit Down and Shut Up” were heard. Some of the old men were more radical and called for the younger men to “Bring a Rope! We mean to hang this man!”
That was a lot of excitement for the Methodists. Some of them actually put more than a buck in the plate that day because they were so worked up, so my singing actually helped the congregation. Still, I agreed with the minister when he said he didn’t think it would work twice. It was a crossroads for me as it was the last time I heard myself sing. Hearing that noise was the worst experience of my life. I had no idea beforehand how dreadful that sound was, but there was no lack of people willing to tell me the truth as they heard it.
The charges were dropped. There is no law against attempted singing. However, the next time I tried to enter the Methodist domain I was met by security forces at the door and turned away.
Just because I favor happy endings, I want you to know I do make a joyful noise to the Lord every day. That joyful noise has nothing to do with singing. I offer the melody of laughter.
Dave Rama, though he recently got lost Nebraska and has not found his way back, is a regular contributor to WGEO.