Did you also enjoy singing along vigorously last week? I did ... at the Nelcsa singing festival service.
And today I am happy that we can sing and play the trumpets. Songs are much more than just a decorative accessory in a church service, they are a fundamental expression of our Christian faith. Our faith takes on a visible form in singing, just as it normally only takes place in prayer and action. Singing can liberate and encourage us, we can turn to God, complain to him of our suffering, but also let the praise of God be loud.
This is how it is already in the Christmas story, as Luke says. The angels appear with the shepherds in the field, and they praise God: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is well-pleased.” (Luke 2:14)
Luke tells how the shepherds ran to the stable and told everyone that the angel had said: The Savior was born to you today.
Afterwards, when they went back to their fields, they joined in the singing of the angels. This is how Luke relates it: They "praised God for everything they had heard and seen."
Later, the disciples of Jesus took up this hymn of praise from the Christmas story. This is what Luke tells in his Gospel. When Jesus and his disciples entered Jerusalem, riding a donkey, the disciples sang aloud. We read about this in Luke in Chapter 19, the Gospel for this Sunday:
Text - Lk 19,37-40
First, dear congregation, it was the shepherds, now it is the disciples who praise God for everything they had seen. Just as the birth of Jesus changed the world, so do Jesus' words and deeds upon, his entry into Jerusalem.
Unlike the angels in the Christmas story, the disciples here do not sing about peace on earth; they praise the awaited peace in heaven and the glory to come.
But this song has a dangerous effect on the mighty. "Blessed be he who comes, the King, in the name of the Lord," the disciples sing in a loud voice. These sung words challenge religious and political power.
Hope in God's kingdom is dangerous for those in power.
And so an exchange of words develops. A small scene in which the power of singing can be seen.
Luke names the Pharisees as guardians of the religious order.
They address Jesus as one of their own: "Master, correct your disciples!" But Jesus is convinced: Peace is coming. This is the truth. And you can't silence it. So he replies: "If they are silent, the stones will scream."
Stones should and can scream? That sounds very puzzling.
But it becomes more understandable if one reads further in the Gospel of Luke. Luke tells how Jesus weeps over the city of Jerusalem because he foresees the coming destruction: "They will razor you, Jerusalem, to the ground," says Jesus, "and leave no stone on the other in you." (Luke 19:44).
So the stones scream, they moan and wail under the destruction. And they shout out how Jerusalem missed the peace to come.
In tears, Jesus said to Luke: If you, Jerusalem, "would recognize on this day what serves for peace!" (Luke 19:42) Both sing of the hope of future peace: the disciples in their hymn of praise and the stones in their silent cry.
Stones cry out to this day and urge peace.
But it's not just the stones that scream.
When people are silenced, the earth can scream. Just as it is told at the beginning of the Bible when Cain killed his brother Abel. Then God said to Cain: “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries to Me
from the ground." (1st Moses 4:10)
But the earth doesn't just shout out injustice and lamentation.
It is also full of praise for God. All creation tells of the glory of God, as the psalms sang about: “The heavens tell the glory of God, and the feast proclaims the work of his hands. One day tells the other, and one night tells the other, without language and without words, their voice is inaudible” (Psalm 19: 2-4).
Like the silent cries of the stones, the hymn of praise of creation is without the sound of a voice. Nevertheless, one can perceive both, the warning and the praise - in the destruction and in the beauty of nature.
Both should come up when we sing. In Jerusalem the disciples sing of heavenly peace, while the stones cry of strife on earth. Both belong together.
Those who only sing about the glory of God lose touch with the ground. One can only credibly sing about future peace in God's kingdom if the unrest of the world is also discussed. And vice versa: Anyone who just shouts out the injustice of our time will lose faith in a better world. So that we don't run out of breath, we need the power of hope in the fight against strife and violence.
Cantata, Sing!, is the name of today's Sunday. Singing becomes an expression of lived faith when both come together:
That we not only sing the beautiful songs in which we praise God's glory, but also shout out the injustice we experience.
When we sing in Easter time about how God gives us new life and lets us breathe freely, then it is part of it that we join in with the calls of those who long for equality. Worldwide.
When we sing about God's wonderful creation, part of it is that we give language to the creature's groans. The plants and animals that are suffering from climate change cannot express themselves. But we can stand up for creation and the right to life of nature with word and deed.
Before the stones just scream, we can and should raise our voices. In this way we can strengthen one another in the church. This Sunday's epistle says: “Teach and exhort one another in all wisdom; with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, God sings gratefully in your hearts. " (Colossians 3:16)
In this way we can join in the singing of the disciples, in the shouting and praising of all creation: "Glory to God on high and to men peace, peace on earth." This is our praise. This is our hope. That is our responsibility.