A mantle of praise

Just before Christmas I was feeling pretty low about things: tired of lockdown and never seeing anyone in the flesh (and conversely too many hours on ‘Zoom’!); tired of having to change plans every other week at the whim of an uncontrollable and uncaring virus; tired of worrying about an uncertain future.

And then an email popped into my Inbox pointing me to a Blog entitled ‘Shifting heaviness with Praise’. The title instantly grabbed my attention and I went for a closer look: Shifting Heaviness With Praise - Heaven in Business

The phrase comes from Isaiah 61: ‘The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me ….. to provide for those who mourn in Zion - to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.’ What does it look like, asked Lisa van den Berg, to have a garment of praise in this situation in which I find myself, battling with a heaviness of spirit.

Praising God is really hard on your own. We really miss standing alongside our church families and singing out those big, bold hymns of praise – it simply isn’t the same on zoom or even in church with a small choir singing for you. There are many things we, as disciples, can do on our own or on Zoom - pray, read our bibles, study scripture with others – but praise needs some extra effort.

So yesterday it was my turn to cook the tea. I put a CD of hymns in the CD player – I favour the rather jaunty versions produced by Spring Harvest but that’s a matter of taste – I cranked the volume up, and I sang at the top of my voice as I diced and chopped and stirred the pot - luckily I have a house with thick walls and an understanding family!

And do you know what – just for a while I have driven out that spirit of heaviness and been filled again with the Spirit of Praise.

Sam Rushton