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  • Writer's pictureRev. Chris Brademeyer

Why We Sing




My Strength and Song

Cantate, the 5th Sunday of Easter – 4/28/2024

Isaiah 12:1-6

Rev. Christopher W. Brademeyer

 

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

 

That portion of God’s holy Word for consideration this morning is our Old Testament reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah in the twelfth chapter with special emphasis on verses one and two which read as follows:

 

“You will say in that day: “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me your anger turned away, that you might comfort me. “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.””[1]

 

Thus far the Scriptures.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

                Our Lord God is not a God who loses. When He enters a conflict, He emerges victorious. The only reason that we do not see the victorious God constantly destroying His opposition is not due to weakness, but rather due to patience for the lost and misguided. Though this is the case, that is to say that God tarries for now due to wanting the full number of repentant sinners to be gathered into His kingdom by faith, at the end He will stand triumphant. Even now, we see that nothing holds the Lord. No matter the hardship of suffering the Christian church endures. Indeed, the holy Church, that is the capital “C” Church that includes all Christians from all times and places never declines or recedes or retreats or retracts. She is always growing. Every time the devil, the world, and sinners mark her as done and defeated, she rises again, steadfast, immovable in the Lord’s promises.

                This should really be no surprise. Death and the devil, even the total weight of all sins in the entire world was not enough to keep Christ dead. He not only was able to rise from the dead, but He went as far as to triumphantly visit hell itself to proclaim His victory over the grave and the devil.

                Victory is usually thought of in these terms and this is indeed fitting and right. God, after all, is the victor and no power is able to stand against Him, let alone have a chance at defeating Him. But even greater than these grand, cosmic victories that demonstrate the full majesty and power of the Almighty, there stands an even greater and more profound victory: that of the sinner who repents, believes, and thereby receives salvation from Christ the Lord. That is to say, whenever a lost and condemned sinner comes to know, trust, and believe Christ, God extends the greatest of victories: salvation. Sure, it is impressive to vanquish an enemy and to send his forces to flight. But even more profound is the task of turning your enemy into your friend. And this is exactly what God has accomplished.

                Isaiah notes this in our reading today: ““I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me your anger turned away, that you might comfort me.”[2] God has taken us, sinners, enemies of God, and through the power of His self-sacrifice, has made us now His friends. Even more than friends, we are sons of the promise and heirs of salvation, all of which has been ensured for us by the work and suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ. We Christians are not enemies of God anymore. No longer are we counted among the masses that stand opposed to God, as futile as that is. Now we are in His salvation, recipients of His gracious mercy, and have been counted as righteous and holy, without blemish or fault in the very eternal Kingdom of God.

                This has all been earned for us not by the strength we have, our resolve, our acts of love, or our devotion. Rather, it is guaranteed, ensured, by the perfect, flawless, everlasting work of Christ. In other words, it is by the strength of God that we stand as saved, redeemed, forgiven, and citizens of God’s own kingdom. The strength of the Lord has accomplished this.

                So what then is there for us to do? We have nothing to do for salvation, this has been taken care of. Instead, we must simply rest in the work of the Lord, which is to say, that we hold to Christ in faith.

                But life is more than faith and Christian living is more than belief. Isaiah notes that the Lord is now his strength and song. That is to say, because the Lord is who He is and because we are in Him, we can rely on His strength as our own. And, in so doing, we are secure unto eternal life. So, why then does Isaiah sing? Because this is the fitting response to the work of God! That is all we can do to thank Him!

                Let me explain: worship, broadly speaking, can mean to both receive the gifts of the Lord and to give back to Him thanks and praise. Narrowly, it means our response as human beings to God’s Word and work delivered to us through His promised means of grace. We cannot pay for it or do anything befitting earning it, so all we can do is be thankful and give praise. One of the chief ways that the people of God do this is through song: we Christians are a singing people. And, because our song is directed to the Lord, we seek to sing songs that are worthy of Him in terms of musical quality, truthfulness of content, and reverence in style. Music, as well as everything else we do when gathered together for church services, is not about us and our desires. Sure, there is something to be said about taste in picking hymns and liturgical, service elements, but this is the most minority of considerations. Song is one of our chief ways to proclaim our thanks and praise to God and we do well to remember that the music of the Church should first and foremost be worthy of God in every respect.

                This also means that we should loudly and confidently sing our songs. Too often we allow foolish self-focus to keep our mouths firmly shut. There are a number of you who sing with gusto every week, and we give God thanks for you all! But it is also the case that some of us do not sing, which is really a shame since God Himself gave you your voice and its musical abilities, no matter how small or great. There is nothing more fitting to thank God with than the very instrument that He fashioned Himself, that is, the human voice.

                There is a logic here in Isaiah’s song, the thankful heart, belonging to a person who rests confidently in Christ’s strength such that the Lord’s strength is now his or her own, that person cannot help but sing. The joyful heart yearns to give voice to its joy. This is the basic logic of Christian singing and the reason that so much of our service is set to music: this is our way to give thanks to God, proclaim His majestic and mighty works, and to remind each other of His saving presence in our lives each day.

                So, dear friends in Christ, the Lord is your strength and song. Because He is strong and has saved us from that great strength, we turn to song and praise in order to do our best to thank Him for all of His great blessings to us.

               

                In the holy Name of + Jesus. Amen.

 

The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.


[1] Isaiah 12:1-2 English Standard Version. All quotations hereafter from the ESV unless specified otherwise.

[2] Isaiah 12:1

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