Sermon by Rev. Ian Dow (Used by Permission)

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Sermon by Rev. Ian Dow (Used by Permission)

Post by Admin on Sun Nov 22, 2015 10:33 pm

2015 -11 - (Sunday) 8  ... Rev. Ian Dow (Uniting Church, S.Aust., Naracoorte) Used by permission.
Readings: Psalm 96, Titus 2: 11-14

3 Great Songs #1

This short series, “Three Great Songs”, comes from the Revised Common Lectionary readings for Christmas Day. As we don’t have the kind of service on Christmas Day that allows for three psalms to be read, we are prefacing Advent with some Christmas readings. As you listen to the readings, listen with Christmas in mind.

1/ Psalm 96 is an “enthronement” psalm. It is a song that recognises God as King. No wonder it is traditionally a Christmas day psalm. Its structure is

  • an invitation to sing praise
  • the reasons to give praise.

2/ Psalm 96 is also something of a protest song. We have lived through times of some great protest songs, some of us, haven’t we?

  • Eve of Destruction, Barry McGuire (War)

  • Salt Water, Julian Lennon (Environment)

  • Blow up the Pokies, The Whitlams (Gambling)

  • All About that Bass, Megan Trainer (Superficial concept of beauty)

Psalm 96 is a protest for a better way of life. It is placed in the Psalter following Book III which is all about the trials and troubles and difficulties of life; about how is; about a yearning for God to do something; about the “dark night of the soul” (as the mystics had it). It is saying – in the face of darkness, defeat and despair – God is great and greatly to be praised: God is King – declare his glory to all the Earth!

The Letter to Titus takes up the same theme: it used to be dark, but grace has appeared to all humanity. This is good news: God’s favour rests on all people. In Christ there is remission of sin. Because Jesus has come, we have been set free.  
Sure, some people think to take advantage when grace is extended
..... snails also come out when it rains.
Even in the church sin may occur when grace and forgiveness are available.
The fact does not deny or reduce the goodness of the blessing. Rain is still good and grace is still amazing.

So, Psalm 96 focuses on the enthroned God and his goodness, overcoming all darkness. And it is an “exodus” psalm, a song of ascent: a song to be sung when going up to Jerusalem for a festival: a song that by its context recalls the return from exile. To the people of the exile, this return was like the first exodus: an escape from slavery to their own land. And so they praised God, their saviour (there is that Christmas link again) by singing a new song. God is doing something new in their time,, and so they sing a new song. Like the songs of the exodus, this new exodus has its new songs.

Psalm 96 looks to the future (eschatalogical), to the end of all things, when God will judge all with righteousness. The Lord will come! Sing a new song for this new thing, in anticipation of the coming of the Lord!

 Psalm 96
  Enthronement God is king
  Protest In God there is a better life
  Exodus Rescue from slavery for God’s people 
 Anticipation God is coming soon/again
God’s word directs us to sing.

  • Sing to the Lord a new song
  • Sing to the Lord all the Earth
  • Sing to the Lord: praise his name.

Why all this emphasis on singing? (50% of the imperatives)
Four reasons:

  • Unites.
    We do it together. Doing it unites us, and when we are united, we do it. When we sing together we join all people (verse 7) and even all of creation (verses 11-13). God uses singing to bring his people together. All God’s people sang psalm 96, and those who wouldn’t sing weren’t God’s people. Singing unifies (e.g. Consider the effect of singing a sports team’s anthem).  
  • Teaches and aids memorisation
    In the time before literacy became common-place, songs taught and committed truth to memory. What the stained glass windows were to churches of the middle ages, so songs were to pre-literate societies. Even today, songs embed teaching into our minds even in people who can read well.
    Songs of salvation, of service, of witness – each proclaims the truth of God.
  • Expresses joy
    Happiness can prompt us to sing, and conversely, singing can make us happy.
  • Honours the object of worship
    verse 8 – an offering to God
    verse 9 – we tremble before God

Is singing beneath our dignity? It is an offering that takes from us our dignity, and expresses acknowledgement of the dignity of God.

 Let us sing to the God of Salvation
Let us sing to the Lord our rock!
Let us come to his house of salvation
Come before the Lord and sing
Richard Thomas Bewes  

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