Saturday, June 29, 2013

Come Let Us Sing To The Lord

New Testament Lesson                                                                    Luke 9:51-62
51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; 53 but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”[a] 55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 Then[b] they went on to another village.
57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 But Jesus[c] said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

How many of you like to go to the baseball game?
          What is your favorite part of the game?
          Mine is the Seventh Inning Stretch – We all get to stand up and sing -“Take Me Out To The Ball Game.”
          Do you know that song?
          Sing it!
          Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks,
I don't care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win, it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game.
          You know what is sad about that song?
          Some of you sang that louder, with more skill, enthusiasm and passion than you did when we sang our opening hymn this morning,
          We sing in every worship service – well, almost every worship service.  Once in a while we will have a special prayer service or some other somber, quiet worship without music, but by and large it is rare that we have worship without music.
          Music is a vital part of our worship service – have you ever wondered why?
          I have to tell you that a few years ago, someone sold his soul on ebay. (
Hemant Mehta put his soul up for sell on the Internet auction company, ebay, and sold it for $504.
Actually, he didn’t sell his soul for eternity, but only for one year. The way it worked was this – whoever submitted the highest bid would be able to take this atheist to the church of the buyer’s choosing.  A minister won the highest bid and they went to nine different churches.  In the end, the atheist remained an atheist – at least the last time I heard.  But he did go to these services with an open mind, and what impacted him as much or more than anything else was not the preaching, or the friendliness of the congregation – it was the music.
What stood out every week was the music.
Now I know that not everyone is gifted with music.  Thee are those who do not know how to sing.
When I was in Seminary, all of the students would go out to preach in different churches, and one of them went out one Sunday to the Hopewell Presbyterian Church out in the rural country several miles outside of Atlanta. 
The student got up to begin the worship and invited everyone to turn in their hymnbooks to Hymn Number 26.
Everyone stood and picked up a hymnbook and looked for hymn 26.
The student preacher stood up and picked up a hymn and turned to number 26.
And when everyone began to sing, one of the elders rushed up to the pulpit and asked, “son, do you have the same hymnbook as everyone else?”
And the student responded – “Sir, I’m not only using the same hymnbook, but I’m even on the same page as everyone else.”
We all have different levels of gifts in music, but we are all invited and expected to sing out.
Why is music such a part of worship?
We sing to teach.
Even today, when I look up a word in the dictionary, I know what the alphabetical order is by singng, ABCDEFG…
First, we sing in church to teach the faith.
There is an old saying that most of the theology that a church teaches is taught through music.
This past week we had music camp here in the church, and one of the songs I heard the children sing was, “The B I B L E.”  You know that song?
“The B I B L E, yes that’s the book for me, I stand alone on the word of God, the B I B L E…”
Children who sing that not only learn how to spell the word “Bible” but also learn that the Bible is a special book – the word of God.
Or as adults we sing the words of
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
Why do we sing in church?  We sing to teach and to remember our faith.
When we are at death’s door, and our memory is fading, what will often be remembered are those familiar passages of scripture, and songs. Amazing Grace, When we gather at the river, Joyful joyful we adore thee….
We also sing out of joy. We sing because we are happy.
If I am in a good mood, I start singing.  I sing in the car, I sing in the shower.  I sing in all sorts of places where no one can hear me.
We sing because we are in a good mood.
When Christ was born, the angels sang.
You cannot have Christmas without singing.
And we also sing to honor God, to give praise to God.
          Time and again in worship, we read about this.

Psalm 95 says, “O come, let us sing unto the Lord:  let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.”

“Make a joyful noise.”


You know, I’ve always had a problem with that verse from the Bible.  “Make a joyful  -------- noise.”

And I’ve heard people use this verse as an excuse.  “God doesn’t expect me to sing well, he just asks for us to make a joyful ---- noise.”

But that is not what this verse says.  “Noise” is the same as “sound” – not a racket, not a cachophany, but a sound.  

In fact, elsewhere in the Bible, in our Old Testament lesson, it says, “Play skillfully.”

I know some of us have more musical talent than others – but God expects of us to give him the best we can.

In the New Testament passage from Luke, Jesus invites people to follow him.  People have all sorts of distractions – they have to say good bye to people, they have to bury a father, but Jesus invites them to let those things go and to stay focused.  Focused on him.  To follow him with resolute determination. 

With --- excellence.

God expects the best of us.

In music, we are to play skillfully.

But not just in music – in all life.

II Timothy 2:15 says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

Do your best, do it with excellence.

Colossians 3:23
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men."

Do your best, do it with excellence.

I Corinthians 10:31 whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Do your best, do it with excellence.

That means if we have a mission program, we should not settle for just good enough.  We should expect it to be done with excellence.

When we teach a Sunday School class, help with the landscaping, prepare fellowship events, we should do it with excellence, because we are doing these things for God.

And outside of the church, in our school work, our athletics, our conversations, being a friend to others, or going to work – we should do it with excellence, because we are doing all of these things for God.

As we read in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. “