Daily D – Psalm 98:5-6
Sing your praise to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and melodious song, with trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn. Make a joyful symphony before the LORD, the King! PSALM 98:5-6 (NLT)
When John Maxwell became pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in the San Diego area, the organist played a dirge as the call to worship on his first Sunday. In case the word dirge does not come up in daily conversation where you hang out, it is a lament for the dead. It is funeral music.
To begin Sunday morning worship with a dirge sounds a bit counterintuitive for people of the resurrection. The reason we gather on Sunday rather than Saturday like the Jews is that Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday. How could we not celebrate?
There are times and seasons when a dirge is appropriate. Perhaps the first Sunday with your new pastor is not one of them. When Maxwell asked the organist what that music was and heard the explanation, he responded with a simple question: “Do I look like a dirge guy to you?”
Whoever the ancient songwriter was who penned this paean (song of praise or triumph), he was not a dirge guy, either. Neither was he a guy or gal who simply settled for something from someone else’s hymnal. He wrote a new song because of his current experience with our Father in heaven. Why are there so many new songs? Because people continue experiencing God and require a means to declare his praise, to thank him, and to invite others to join them in their joyful expressions.
I love old hymns. I love those songs we once called contemporary which are now somewhat dated. I love discovering new songs to express the truths my heart knows well. There is a concert for the ages to celebrate the end of time and the ongoing experience of perfect unity with our Father and others where the best music ever written will be performed more beautifully than we can imagine. Though it is new to our ears, it will immediately sound familiar to our hearts. It will say for us what we wish we could say for ourselves.
I preached my first sermon over forty years ago. I have preached regularly since then. I was a preaching pastor for nearly twenty years. Do not tell my preacher buddies and professors, but I would rather sing than preach any day. That form of worship helps me express my love to God more meaningfully than anything else I can think of.
It is Sunday. I will stand and preach. Fittingly, I will preach a psalm, a text that sings. In fact, it is a text that has been set to tune in more ways across the ages than any other song I know. Today in our city, dozens of songs will be sung based on this well-aged psalm. New songs from old. New stories freshly told in words well-aged, but never old.
I will join the symphony.
Our Father, put your thoughts in my mind and your words in my mouth. Empower me to communicate your truth clearly and effectively. Give us glad songs to sing and joy to match. Thank you that this hot Sunday in this season of pandemic is a wonderful time to sing our praise and thanksgiving, our adoration and commitment. May even our old songs be sung with new delight. Amen.
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Leviticus 19:32-34 “Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged. Fear your God. I am the Lord. “Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”
Luke 6:27-31 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you.”