Let Us Sing to the Lord!
Last night President Trump delivered his belated State of the Union Address. I did not watch it. Even if he says nice things about joining together as a nation, I’m not sure I believe him. So, rather than watch it, and get angry, I just let it pass. The fact is, when it comes to matters of the American union, things aren’t going well. Yes, the stock market is up, which is a good thing when it comes to my eventual retirement. But Dow averages tell us only so much about the state of the union. We are divided on so many things, and I’m not sure we have the wherewithal, at least on our own to rectify things.
With that seemingly politically charged statement out of the way, I turn to the declaration I made in titling this posting. IN the midst of our situation in life, I hear the call to sing to the Lord. It is not intended to be an evasion of the realities around me, but rather as a sign that the powers that be are not ultimate. I wrote a lectionary reflection posted yesterday on the reading from Isaiah 6. Isaiah stands in the presence of God, feels himself unworthy to do so, and yet he is cleansed so he could respond to his prophetic calling. Of course, the message he is called to deliver is less than positive. It’s not a call to repentance. It is a word of judgment. I’m wondering if that is what we’re hearing right now.
Back to singing to the Lord. In Isaiah 6 the seraphs sing “Holy, Holy, Holy.” That is a song worth singing before the Lord, but it’s not the only song. They hymnal (yes, the hymnal) is filled with songs that call us to offer praise and thanksgiving to God, as well as reflect on the realities of our situation in life.
I will confess that I love to sing, and I love to sing hymns old and new. That’s why I love hymnals. They offer so many possibilities. But why sing in this moment in time? Maybe Walter Brueggemann can help us. He’s written a book titled A Glad Obedience. Once I’m finished reading it, I’ll be reviewing it. In the meantime, hear this word:
Thus an answer to “Why we sing?” is that in singing we may evidence and enact our God-given humanness, which is marked by bodily freedom, by uncensored articulation and by full-person engagement. Israel, which in its dancing singing since Miriam defied Pharaoh, has known this (see Exod. 15:20-21). The early church knew this in Pentecost, which made the imperial magistrates nervous (see Acts 16:25-34). Martin Luther knew this as he exposited the grace of God that contradicted all human “law.” He knew that such grace must be sung. Martin Luther King, Jr., kneeling before sheriffs, knew that singing counters intimidation and evokes courage. And now with this new hymnal [the Presbyterian hymnal Glory to God] we know it in the days of capitalism, which wants to cover over bodily humanity (with its wounds and possibilities) by the offer of religious kitsch. The singing church has always known better. The more the church forms its life outside the restraints of dominant values and outside economic necessity that insists on those values, the more its singing is an emancipatory practice of full-bodied selves in the image of God. [Walter Brueggemann, A Glad Obedience, WJK Press, p. xvi.]
So, let us sing to the Lord, with all that we have! Then we will find ourselves empowered for the tasks at hand.