January 12, 2011

Cheering Scripture

Source: KVOA.com
I can tell from the comments of my high school classmates on Facebook that I'm not the only one who was a little surprised by the pep rally tone of the memorial service in Tucson. Maybe time colors our memories, but if I remember correctly, the memorial service following the Oklahoma City bombing was pretty somber although - again, if my memory serves - I think after the service the attendees launched into an impromptu chorus of Oklahoma as they were exiting.

It seems that after days of mourning as a community, people have a desperate need to latch onto anything positive. I can understand that. Grief is exhausting. It saps our energy and feels as though the sun will never shine again. It makes us want to hide.

So after my initial surprise at the tone of the service, which after all, was held in a sports arena at the University of Arizona, I decided maybe cheering at a memorial service isn't such a bad thing. And when Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano walked away from the podium to cheers following her reading of Isaiah 40, I smiled because it reminded me of something that Deron, my pastor, often chides us for.

You may have heard that Oklahomans love football. (Well, most Oklahomans seem to. The fascination with football totally escapes me.)  Sooner fans get excited about OU and Cowboy fans get excited about OSU and it seems that most Oklahomans have a strong preference for one over the other. Deron can make a positive comment about one of the teams and the sanctuary will erupt into cheers that even manage to drown out the (good-natured?) boos of the opposing fans.

Then Deron will point out that we never show that kind of unbridled enthusiasm for scripture or for worship. We never give God the kind of glory that we give our favorite teams. We talk a lot about giving God glory. We sing about it..."Shout to the Lord, all the earth, let us sing!" But the sad truth is, we don't cheer for God.

I don't have any illusions about who the crowd in Tucson was cheering for. Some may indeed have been cheering for the words she read, but I suspect most were excited to see their former Governor and current Cabinet Secretary back for the service and more than that, they were caught up in the pep rally atmosphere.

But perhaps the rest of us can learn something. We should shout to the mountaintops when we hear scripture. We should always be thrilled for the opportunity to shout to the Lord with passion, giving him all the glory.

Until next time,

Do you not know?
   Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
   the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
   and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
   and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
   and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
   will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
   they will run and not grow weary,
   they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV)


  1. I agree with you Margaret. I do agree that some cheers were well-deserved, especially those for Daniel Hernandez and recognizing the good deeds of those who acted heroically to save lives that day.

    I have to say that I found it especially distasteful to boo their current governor, no matter how much they dislike her. It's a memorial service, show some respect. It was not a political event.

  2. Erin - Thanks for pointing that out. I was transitioning from downstairs to upstairs and missed Governor Brewer's introduction and a good part of her talk so I didn't hear the booing. It's a shame that the tone didn't stay positive. She absolutely should have been treated with the same respect that all the other speakers received.

  3. Good spiritual blog.
    I’ve been following and enjoying your blog for a while now and would like to invite you to visit and perhaps follow me back. Sorry I took so long for the invitation.

  4. Great post! I thought it looked more like a political campaign speech, or even a State of the Union speech, than a memorial service. There were even free T-shirts and other swag.

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed the inappropriate atmosphere.

  5. I have been living under a rock this week so I did not see the memorial service, I only read a transcript of the President's speach so I was surpirsed to later hear about the atmosphere that surrounded it.

  6. i'm with your pastor on this. we don't know how to celebrate
    the One most worth of it. on the other hand, i have attended
    churches who exhort a kind of celebrating that feels false,

    i'm convinced that when we get true glimpses of Him, our
    hearts will jump out of our throats in a way we couldn't
    have imagined!

  7. dear margaret,

    i have sorely missed your intelligent and funny posts.
    there is not another writer like you.

    please. come. back.

  8. Hi Margaret! Haven't heard from you in a while. Hope you're well. :)