The Eternal Chorus

Psalm 89:1-5 We heard in our Psalm this morning reasons why we sing. We sing because of God’s steadfast love, God’s faithfulness, God’s covenant, God’s wonders. There are songs of lament, as well, songs of the struggles of working to live out lives of faithful witness in the midst of a broken world. In song, we express ourselves and our deepest pains and greatest joys. And when we do, we join our voices with those around the world and even in the heavens who are already singing.

I am reminded of the practice of our Eastern Orthodox sisters and brothers of the “Divine Liturgy,” the name they use to refer to the Eucharistic service. When the faithful gather for the Divine Liturgy, all difference between heaven and earth falls away. Orthodox worship is not simply a taste of the heavenly banquet, or a glimpse of the life to come. The Divine Liturgy is earthly participation in the heavenly glorification that is already happening. As the Psalmist writes of his own song of joy, he gives thanks for the heavens where God’s wonders are praised.

At our best, this is the essence of worship – not a performance of the choir or the preacher for the audience, but rather our whole congregational recognition that our praise is due to God, and that all of our voices join in an eternal chorus of Alleluias to God Most High.

Our Cantata this morning reminds us of that eternal and universal, and yet particular, character of the Church. As we hear “Go, Tell It on the Mountain” and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” we are firmly rooted in this place in this culture. And as we hear of traditions and songs from Austria and Mexico, from Syria and Iraq, we reach our ears and our very selves around the world. In this moment, firmly rooted and reaching out, we can begin to see the outline of the cross itself as our story of salvation continues to unfold.

And if we are firmly rooted, friends, we know that we sing these songs of hope in the midst of a broken world. We sing these songs of the Prince of Peace in the midst of world that is at war. We should not be satisfied with the hope of earthly glimpses of heavenly peace. Rather, we should yearn for peace that models itself on the Divine Liturgy, where the difference between heaven and earth falls away and the peace for which we strive is the eternal peace of heavenly Alleluias. May it be so.

sermonsMarthame Sanders