Sunday, May 2, 2010
Easter 5 Isaiah 12:1–6
And you will say on that day, "I thank You, Yahweh, for You were angry with me; Your anger turned away; You comforted me. Look God–my Salvation. I trust and I do not fear; for my strong-pride and my song–Yah, Yahweh; and He became to me, my Salvation. And you will draw water in joy from fountains of salvation. And you will say on that day, "Praise to Yahweh; call on His Name; make known in the nations His deeds; cause them to remember that His Name is exalted. Harp praise of Yahweh, for majestic works; may this be known in all the earth. Cry aloud and shout for joy, inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst–the Holy One of Israel!"
For generations, the Lutheran church was known in Christendom as the *singing church*. While Roman priests chanted in Latin, Martin Luther and those who followed his reforms restored the congregational song to the church. Not only did the early Lutherans write hymns for the people to sing in worship, but the laity were taught to chant their responses to God in the liturgy. Like the church of old, God's people once again began to sing the song of the LORD's salvation!
But it is not just *singing* itself that is important, but *what* we sing is crucial. God has given us to sing His words and works of salvation. Yet what have so many in Christendom done? Peruse the dial of Christian radio stations, and you will find very little singing of salvation. Whether contemporary Christian music, or old gospel favorites, what predominates there are songs with peppy tunes and words of how people feel. But very little is found on the airwaves of what God actually says and does...
You are given by God to sing God's words. The responses you chant in the liturgy are almost all directly from scripture. You sing Lutheran hymns which come from God's word. Why? Because you are privileged to sing of the Lord's salvation! You sing of Christ-crucified, and you sing of the works of God in your life, where the Lord Jesus proclaims His love to you on Sunday morning, and where He blesses you in the ways He makes you holy in holy baptism, holy absolution and holy communion.
*How* we sing also matters greatly. Many Christian churches nowadays build a stage up front, place a band up their to perform before the audience, and give microphones to singers who do their best American Idol impression. This is not humble worship. This is prideful entertainment! Often the performers aren't singing hymns to Him at all , but rather turn their backs to the altar of God's presence and sing pop-music to please their family members and friends down in the pews.
You are given to sing God's song of salvation, humbly, to Him. Your singing is an act of confession, saying to God what He has already said to you. Your singing is at times somber, as you admit your sinfulness and how God has every right to be angry with you. At times your singing is joyful, recognizing that the only worth you have is not in what you do, but in what Christ Jesus did for you at the cross of Calvary, giving His life up in sacrifice for you, to save your soul and give you life eternal!
The *why* of your singing is also important. Some sing to show off their talent. Others may sing in attempt to prove their perceived standing before God to other Christians. But most sing because of their emotions. Now, singing is in part an emotional undertaking, but many foolishly think that's all it is. They judge a song based solely on how it makes them feel. But many things which make a person *feel good* for a time are not really very good things at all, in and of themselves.
The LORD gives you songs to sing because they reveal His goodness! You don't sing to feel good, but because you know that God makes you good! You sing of drawing God's waters of salvation daily from the baptismal font to cleanse you of your sin. You call on His name in song, the Name He gave you at your baptism! You sing praise to Jesus for His majestic works, from living perfectly on earth to earn your salvation, to His willingness to embrace the death of the + in your place to save you!
You are blessed to be Lutheran, in the "singing church"! But you are further blessed to sing hymns to Him, appropriately so. For as you do, your pride is not in your singing, but in Jesus for what He's done for you. For Jesus your Savior is your song! Your focus is on Him alone, the forgiveness He proclaims to you from the cross "Father forgive them", and on His majestic works of giving His body for you on the tree, and shedding His blood there to save you.
"Songs of thankfulness and praise, Jesus Lord to Thee we raise, manifest in valiant fight, quelling all the devil's might; manifest in gracious will, ever bringing good from ill. Anthems be to Thee addressed, God in man made manifest." Amen.
Hymns from LSB:
#454 Sing My Tongue the Glorious Battle
#556 Dear Christians One and All Rejoice!
#478 The Day of Resurrection