Psalm 40:1–10 | The Music of My Mind Sermon Series | Fifth Sunday After Pentecost | June 28, 2015
I’ve noticed something that can happen in the aftermath of a tragedy. Maybe you’ve noticed it too: people come together and start singing. I remember hearing the story that took place on September 11, 2001 in Washington. Earlier that day, people were running scared. Planes had just hit in New York and one had hit across the Potomac River at the Pentagon. There was fear that a fourth plane was up in the sky heading towards DC. What would it hit? Some thought it might hit the White House and others the Capitol. We know that plane never made it to Washington; it was commandeered by the passengers and crashed in rural Pennsylvania.
After this harrowing day, members of Congress climbed up the steps of the Capitol and started singing the Star Spangled Banner. People have noted that it was a brief display of bipartisanship. Maybe singing in the face of such evil was a way of talking back at the ones that would do us harm.
Here in Minnesota, I was at a special service at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in St. Paul. I went with my friend, Erik to do what I think a lot of people were trying to do that evening. Pray and figure out why this had all happened. At some point, the congregation joined together in song sing a well-known Lutheran hymn, Stay With Us. I turned to see my friend Erik’s face start to distort. I knew that he was getting ready to cry. I pulled him over as he started to let out a big sob.
Songs can be joyous or the can be sad. They can be a response to what we face.
In our Psalm today, the writer is singing a song. Actually it seems like more than one song, but they are patched together into this one song. “ I put all my hope in the Lord. He leaned down to me; he listened to my cry for help,” says the psalmist in the opening lines. You get the feeling that this writer has tried everything and nothing worked. So now he is betting it all on God. And the bet pays off. God answers. God pulls the writer out of the pit, placed the writer on solid ground and given the writer a new song. The old song of deliverance is gone, the new song of salvation is being sung.
And then the writer does something else; tells everyone of God’s work. The work of deliverance is something that you don’t keep to yourself, you have to tell others. “I’ve told the good news of your righteousness in the great assembly. I didn’t hold anything back — as you well know, Lord !” The writer has to tell others of God’s good news.
So, what is your song this morning? What has God done in your life? How has God seen you though? Are you telling people about this?
There are people singing songs today, most of these songs are not happy but sad. They don’t feel that anyone cares for them. They might be caught-up in addiction. Some have been bullied. Some are dealing with depression. Some have been kicked out of homes. Some are survivors of abuse. They sing a song of mourning and loneliness.
The writer shares all that God has done; how God protected them, saved them from near death. God is there to lift us up from the muddy pit. The writer is extremely happy because God had listened and brought salvation when it seemed all was lost.
If something like this happened, what might you do next? You might want to tell others of your good fortune. And that is what we are called to do. We are called to tell others of what God has done in our lives. We are to give thanks for what God has done in our own lives. A friend used to tell people before he started preaching “what was God doing in their lives. I think he believes that God is active, that God changes us. And if God can give us a new song, then we have to share this good news.
Last week, we talked about what evangelism is, and we can safely conclude that it isn’t standing on the corner with a Bible. No, it is about sharing our lives, and sharing what God has done in our lives. Sharing what God has done, how God has helped us in dark times can be words of comfort to someone singing a sad song. Maybe our words can plant the seeds of a new song in their hearts.
For the song this week, I had wanted to pick “Everybody Hurts,” a 1993 hit by the alternative group REM. But that song really didn’t fit. The most obvious one was by U2 called 40 from their 1983 album War. It’s actually based on this Psalm. But the song that seemed to make the best sense is one from my childhood, that incidentally became a top ten hit for the Carpenters in 1973 and that song is simply called “Sing.” It was written by a writer for Sesame Street and has been sung there a number of times over the years. This song reminds us the importance of singing our “song” throughout life.
Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not
Good enough for anyone
Else to hear
Just sing, sing a song.
So, As a congregation I want us to think about something the next time we see a friend. Share what God has done in your life. Share where you think you have seen God moving. Then offer to pray for your friend. Sing a song. Sing your song, the song gave you. Don’t worry if you don’t get it perfect. What you have done is evangelism, witnessing to God’s goodness. Tell the good news, because people are desperate to hear it.
Sing. Sing a song. Sing your song. Sing God’s song.
Thanks be to God. Amen.