May 5, 2012 at LWML Philadelphia Zone Rally – Mechanicsburg, PA
“Sing praises to the Lord, for He has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”
“Sing Your Faith” is the theme given to this Spring Rally. As you have gathered for Morning Prayer to begin the day, you have been exhorted to do just that. In the traditional lessons for Cantate Sunday, which falls tomorrow morning, the prophet Isaiah and the psalmist have both directed you to sing to God.
But what shall you sing? And why should you sing? The Scripture readings this morning answer those questions. You are not told to simply make music, as enjoyable as that might be. No, you are told to sing particular lyrics, lyrics of praise directed to God Himself. So you heard in the psalm: “Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of His name; give to Him glorious praise! Say to God, ‘How awesome are Your deeds! So great is Your power that Your enemies come cringing to You. All the earth worships You and sings praises to You; they sing praises to Your name.’” And the prophet said: “Sing praises to the Lord, for He has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”
Praises are sung to God because of what He has done. “He has done gloriously.” So you are to praise Him. “Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of His praise be heard, who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip.” So all peoples are to praise Him. The glorious actions are the acts of salvation that the Lord has performed. They are the basis for your singing today. It is no coincidence that Cantate Sunday is a Sunday of Easter: Jesus’ dying and rising to life again, so that the dead may be brought to life, is the glorious action that deserves praise. All should laud Jesus’ act; yes, even those who do not believe or benefit from it. But for you who have died and risen with Jesus, united to His death and resurrection in baptism, there is more than ample reason to have the lyrics of praise flow from your mouth, for you to join in the chorus that resounds in all the vault of heaven: “Christ has triumphed! He is living!”
You have been led by the Holy Spirit to know and trust in what Jesus has done, in the glorious acts that He has performed. What Jesus said about the Spirit’s work has taken place among you: “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is Mine; therefore I said that He will take what is Mine and declare it to you.” The glorifying of Jesus that the Spirit has brought to hearing souls includes the confessing of what Jesus has done: He has died and risen to bring salvation to you. The declaration that the Spirit has brought to your hearing includes the promise of what awaits because of Jesus’ action: you will rise from death because the Lord Jesus Christ has conquered it.
So you do not keep silent. No, you speak with by the Spirit’s power what He has made known to you. You confess it with your own lips. What the Spirit has revealed to you through the Gospel has become the lyrics of your songs of praise directed to the Lord. They also form the lyrics of your songs of trust, as it was for Isaiah: “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.”
But what the Spirit has made known to you has also become the lyrics of your songs of testimony, of witness, of proclamation. The prophet gives you the command: “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name, make known His deeds among the peoples, proclaim that His name is exalted.’” Your praises are not silent, but audible. They are not of the mind only, but of the mouth. You are not mute. You speak with the Spirit’s powerful voice that strikes and convicts the world: “He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see Me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” You bear that witness with your song.
As you “sing your faith,” you are heard. Your confession is heard. Your testimony about the Lord is heard. The people of the world hear the Gospel that you proclaim about Jesus: “He has done gloriously. Great in our midst is the Holy One of Israel. Christ has triumphed! He is living!” And some who hear will be brought to faith in that Holy One of Israel, the Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus Christ. Then they also will be led to join in the praises that are directed to Him, that are their own lyrics of trust, their own confession and testimony.
So do as the prophet exhorts: “Sing praises to the Lord, for He has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” Follow the command of the psalmist: “Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of His name; give to Him glorious praise! Say to God, ‘How awesome are Your deeds! So great is Your power that Your enemies come cringing to You….’” Your Lord has risen from death. Your Lord has routed your enemies. And by His grace, your Lord has called you and all the Church to “sing your faith” with all His people, even those who will believe through your lyrical proclamation of the Gospel.
+ In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.