By R.E. Olsen
In keeping with the Christmas season, let me share a thought about shouting for joy in God’s presence.
Last year, one of the kitchen staff at the elementary school where I work brought an elf to the cafeteria a couple of weeks before Christmas. Every morning she would hide the elf in plain sight somewhere in the food service area. One time he was put into stacked Styrofoam bowls looking like a snowman with the elf face peeking out. Another time he was in a cotton ball bubble bath.
Every day at lunch time the children would seek him out. Some would ask me if I knew where he was. I would never divulge.
On the last day before Christmas break, the staff made up one gift bag per classroom. They marked the bottom of one tray per class, and the child who got that tray would win the bag containing some treats and a small gift.
One bag contained the elf.
The kindergartners had already finished and left the cafeteria. The fifth and sixth graders had not yet come in, meaning that only first, second, third and fourth graders were in the room. We were short-staffed so there was one kitchen helper manning the cash register and I was watching the 80 or so kids eat.
I was standing near one girl, the one who won the second grade gift, when she opened it and yelled “The Elf!”
Instantly all of the kids screamed and jumped to their feet. They swirled around me, rushing in to see the elf. They kept screaming.
I was there to keep order and there was no order to keep, at least not what is normally considered order. It was not a group of noisy screaming kids with no purpose. There was a purpose.
The sound of the screaming washed over me like waves in deep surf when you lose any and all control, even the sense of up and down. I did not try to change anything because I did not know what to do. I just tried to ride it out.
I glanced over at the cash register attendant and saw that she was appalled. Upon later reflection, it would have been wrong to impose any artificial order on the situation.
When the Seraphim and the Cherubim opened their eyes, opened them for the first time and saw God, I imagine the scene unfolded in much the same way.
Here God was talking with Job:
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” (Job 38: 4-7)
Shouting for Joy: Bible Verses
“Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises.” (Psalm 98:4)
“Shout joyfully to God, all the earth; Sing the glory of His name; Make His praise glorious.” (Psalm 66:1-2)
“O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.” (Psalm 95:1)
“The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous.” (Psalm 118:15)
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