“We Sing Together”

August 22, 2021

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, pastor

Rush United Methodist Church

John 6:51-58

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”

| Centering Prayer |

Sing!

The apostle Paul wrote the following to the church in Ephesus:

“Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Ephesians 5:15-20

Sing!

Orpheus

Was an ancient Greek prophet,

Poet, and musician.

He was able to charm all things with his music

Even stones.

Myth tells that Apollo gave him a lyre and taught him how to play.

His music and voice, it is said

Could charm birds, fish, and wild beasts,

Coax trees and rocks to dance,

And divert the course of rivers.

In the epic poem, Argonautica,

Jason takes Orpheus with him and used his skills to aid his companions.

When their ships pass the Sirens Island

The beautiful, alluring Sirens began to sing.

They sang to lure sailors to draw close and have their ships dashed upon the rocks.

Orpheus saved the day when he

Drew his lyre and played music

Louder and more beautiful,

Drowning out the Siren’s bewitching songs

Leading the Argonauts to safety.

The old music failed,

And a new song began to take its place.

The 150 poems that we know as the Psalms

Taken together express virtually the full range of our ancient Hebrew faith.

The Psalms are lyrics set to the music of the lyre;

Songs sung to a U-shaped harp

That lead a collective people to join their songs

Together in one voice.

Singing together as one people of faith

Is a unique religious experience

Epitomized by the Psalms.

Feelings are shared.

Praise is lifted to God!

Pain and struggles are mutually carried.

Empathy is given

And is received.

Many voices make one voice to

Complain to God,

Confess to God,

Exult God,

Thank God.

Making music of Psalms

Opens a collective space within each individual

That can only be filled with God.

As the old music faded,

New music emerged that defined a people of God

Within whom God dwelt.

One of the great fathers of Methodism,

Charles Wesley,

Lived in a time where the music of the church

Was being drowned out by the music of the pubs.

Church music took a back row to music from the coal mine,

From the poor living in economic slavery,

And the back-breaking factory floor.

The state Church of England had lost its way, its relevance, its tune.

Revival comes from within …

And no one understood this better than Charles Wesley.

While his brother, John, preached revival,

Charles led in the emergence of a new song;

The means to reopen the collective hearts of the people

And invite the Spirit to enter

Through the means of music.

Sing praise to God who reigns above,

The God of all creation!

The God of power, the God of love,

The God of our salvation!

With healing balm my soul is filled

and every faithless murmur stilled:

To God all praise and glory!

Charles revived music:

Writing over six thousand hymns,

Authoring the lyrics to a further two thousand.

His hymns fill our hymnal today:

51 hymns, 8 poems, and 6 sung responses.

Where else do people gather to sing?

Besides school, concert, and the occasional sporting event anthem,

Collective music today is most deeply experienced

As a phenomena of the faith community.

We do it to create the sacred space

Where God can abide in us

And we can abide in God.

Meno’ (pronounced Men’-o)

Is the Greek word used in our Gospel of John today for the English equivalent:

Abide.

Jesus is the living bread, we are told.

“Whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

“Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.”

In a very Eucharistic way

The metaphor is cast that leads us to believe

That we become the same flesh and blood as God’s son.

Jesus fills our empty space,

Abides in us and we in him,

With the same flesh and blood as our own children and families.

Partaking in the Eucharist

Fills us with the same Spirit

As does singing

“psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves,

singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts,

giving thanks to God the Father at all times

and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,”

As Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus.

This, quite simply, is the will of the Lord:

To abide with Christ and in Christ,

To take up residence both ways:

Christ in us, and

Us living in Christ.

When we live within Christ

We begin to look through his eyes

Listen with his ears

Speak with his voice

Work with his hands

Heal with his love.

We live within Christ when we forgive others,

even to the extent of washing away the sins of others with our own blood.

We live within Christ when we extend the invitation to salvation,

even by the example of our own death and resurrection.

In a similar way

Christ abides within us

By eating his bread and drinking his cup.

Christ abides within us when we

Turn our back on evil, foolish, and drunken ways;

When we sing and make melody to the Lord in our hearts.

There are many critics today

Who believe the Church has lost its way,

That we have lost our music.

They claim the secular pop, rap, rock, Indy and America’s Got Talent music of today

Is drowning out the sacred music and hymns that many of us hold dear.

Critics chirp and snipe, and some might even call for revival.

I don’t know if we need the cataclysmic change of an Orpheus to save us.

I don’t know if we need the new music the Psalms ushered in.

I don’t know if the hymns and sacred music of Charles Wesley can revive us even still.

I only know that I can sing.

And so can you.

You don’t have to be able to carry a tune in a bucket.

Just don’t sing alone.

We sing together;

With one voice, one melody, one song, one Body.

You only have to lift your heart and open your mouth

And allow yourself to be filled with the Spirit.

Abide in Christ,

And allow him to abide in you.

Amen.

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