Sermon - Cantate (Easter 5).2013

St John 16.5-15 Cantate (Easter 5)
St John's Ev LC, Victor, IA 2013.4.28

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

Singing. It is a natural act that flows out of a joyful heart. I do not mean to suggest that if you aren't singing, you aren't joyful. There are plenty of people who are joyful, but (for whatever reason) they just aren't the singing type. What I am suggesting / is that we sing willingly / only when we are joyful.

When a person is feeling down, feeling lousy with depression or anxiety, if you would encourage that person to sing, they usually will respond: “I don't feel like singing.” And then if you take the initiative and just begin singing to them, it usually lifts their spirits. Joy and singing / go together.

The Introit for today would have been Psalm 98. Listen to what the Psalmist says about joy and singing. And try to catch in this Psalm the reason for the joy and singing.

Oh sing to the Lord a new song,
    for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
    have worked salvation for him.
2 The Lord has made known his salvation;
    he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
    to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
    the salvation of our God.
4 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
    break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
5 Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
    with the lyre and the sound of melody!
6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn
    make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!
7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
    the world and those who dwell in it!
8 Let the rivers clap their hands;
    let the hills sing for joy together
9 before the Lord, for he comes
    to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
    and the peoples with equity.

The reason for the singing / is to proclaim, or confess, the marvelous works of the Lord, the salvation of our God. Singing is different from humming. Singing includes words. For the Christian, those words matter.

The apostle Paul instructs the Christian Church in the same way, saying, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Col 3.16)

A “spiritual” song / is a song of celebration. It is a remembrance of the specific acts of salvation that the Lord has worked for us, His creation, in the Life, death and resurrection of Jesus, our Savior. For this reason, a spiritual song is also a song of faith. It is a song which flows from a heart that is inhabited by the One, Holy Spirit, the very Spirit which Christ promised to send upon those who believe in Him. 
In a way, Eric and Samantha sang a spiritual song to the Lord this morning as they confessed their faith. They could do this / because of the gift of the Holy Spirit, which they received in their baptism. This we heard about in the Gospel reading for today. Jesus said, “Now / I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”

The disciples were despondent, they were filled with that kind of sorrow that prevents joy, that inhibits celebration, the type of sorrow which says, “I don't feel like singing.” The Savior had just broken the news to them / that the people of the world, including their fellow Jews, would hate them for following and proclaiming Jesus. But more than that, Jesus explained to the disciples / that they would have to suffer many things for His sake, and even be murdered.

Not much celebrating with that kind of news; of course they were sorrowful. But / as we learned last week, that sorrow will come through the suffering / and turn into joy. Just like it did for Jesus. In Jesus, death must always give way to life. Sorrow and grieving must give way to joy and singing and celebration. Not a generic life, but the Life in Christ. Not a celebration simply for the sake of a celebration, but the celebration of salvation of our God in Christ Jesus.

This is what Jesus sends the Helper (the Holy Spirit) to do. To turn our sorrow into joy, our weeping into singing, our funerals into celebrations. Not by some magic, spiritual anxiety drug, but by His Word, by the promise of grace, by the proclamation of the Gospel of salvation. The more we meditate upon those Truths, the more joyful we may become, even in the midst of great personal suffering.

Perhaps you know someone like this. Someone who has been through so much suffering and tragedy / and yet / they remain so joyful and thankful. It doesn't make sense to us, / they, more than anyone, have the right to complain and feel miserable.
What you see in them, is the Spirit of God, in a fullness that comes only to those who are connected to Christ's Word. They experience a depth of joy / of which we can only hope to attain a small portion in this world. They / seem to always be “up for singing”, as if their hearts are fixed in a different place, the place where true joys are found.

And one day, we too will always be “up for singing”, for we all will come to that place where sorrow and weeping will be no more. We will enter the very presence of our Lord. And whether we are the singing type or not, we won't be able to help ourselves. We will join in the unending chorus of those who inhabit the Kingdom of the Lamb, who was slain, but who has risen from the dead. [ Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleuia! ] And of His Kingdom / there will be no end: no end of joy, no end of celebrating / no end of life.
In the name of +Jesus. Amen.

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