On Friday night a friend and I went to a concert at the Jiify Lube Live amphitheater.
There was a lot of great music,
but to me, the real joy of the concert,
was sitting on the lawn
and singing our hearts out with a group of people we didn’t even know.
This summer at Good Shepherd we will be looking at how God meets us
in the ordinary things we do in life:
working, traveling, planting, weeding, fishing,…
and today, our topic is “God in our Singing.”
Nate shared with us beautifully how God is present in the ordinary activity of singing.
As I think of it, however, singing isn’t really all that ordinary anymore.
In fact I think it’s rather rare that a group of people sing together.
When was the last time your family gathered around the piano for a sing-along?
When was the last time your class at school sang together?
When I grew up, every elementary school classroom had a piano,
and as I remember it, we sang pretty much every day.
But these days, it seems, singing is not something we ordinarily do together.
Rather it happens on special occasions – extraordinary gatherings – like a rock concert.
…That is…unless you come to church.
In church, singing is very ordinary.
For those of you visiting this morning?
Yes we sing together – every week in fact!
I have not researched the point,
but I would guess that singing has been a way humanity has expressed faith
from the beginning.
In the Bible we know that the whole book of psalms
was meant to be a songbook – a songbook of prayer.
Elsewhere in the Bible,
– Moses’ sister Miriam sings when the Israelites cross the Red Sea
– In the book of Acts, when Paul and Silas were in jail, they prayed and sang.
– When Mary heard from Gabriel that she was to bear God’s son, she sang.
– We just heard that the Colossians were told to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
– James said that when we are cheerful, we ought to sing praise to God.
Moses and Miriam sang.
But did Jesus sing?
The gospels, which are the books of the Bible
which tell us largely what we know about Jesus’ life and ministry,
do not mention Jesus singing.
But then again, they do not mention Jesus laughing either.
It is only in this one verse we heard today
in which we can presume that Jesus sang.
It comes from Jesus’ Last Supper on what we call Maundy Thursday.
He is celebrating the Passover with his disciples.
He has just given them the bread and wine which he says is his body and blood.
And then, our verse says,
“When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”
“When they had sung the hymn.”
Did Jesus like 4-part harmony,
or was he more of a praise-chorus kind of guy?
Scholars suggest that the hymn Matthew speaks about is most likely the Hallel –Psalms 113-118
which Jews sang and still sing at the end of the first night of Passover.
I think it’s pretty safe to say then,
that Jesus sang at least this one time.
Most likely throughout his life, Jesus sang in worship.
Listen to this…the night before he was crucified,
just before going to the Mount of Olives where he was to be arrested,
Jesus had a meal with his friends,
and then he sang with them.
I don’t know if Jesus particularly liked to sing.
I don’t know if he could carry a tune in a bucket
I don’t know if he liked the music.
But I do know this…
On one of the most difficult nights of his life,
Jesus decided to sing.
Singing is a gift with power.
It has the power to unite us;
it has the power to lift our spirits;
It has the power to voice the words to God we cannot say;
it has the power to offer thanksgiving and praise;
it has the power to comfort our hearts
and also to convict us to work for justice and peace.
Singing has the power to do all these things –
even if we can’t carry a tune in a bucket
and even if we don’t like the music.
“When we sing, ” Martin Luther proclaimed, “we pray twice…”
God is in our singing…
So let us sing!