I rarely comment on sermons – I am not a pastor, nor am I especially trained in theology – other than the lifelong instruction I have received as a Christian in the Lutheran Church.
Today I am not really going to comment on the sermon either, but rather the service as a whole, the hymns which were chosen, and especially two hymns in particular.
In our church (as I am sure in many other churches as well) the hymns are chosen for their content in relation to the sermon. Today, one of the hymns was The King of Love My Shepherd Is. I have sung this hymn before but I had forgotten about it until today.
When I was a child I didn’t like to sing in church, but my mother would always encourage me to simply open the hymnal and read the words quietly to myself. It was ok if I didn’t want to sing. It is a habit which continues to this day and which I teach to my sons.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with singing out loud – especially if you have a beautiful singing voice. But I think it is more important to remember that Church is primarily for us to receive what God is giving to us (His Word!) and not so much for Him to hear our praises. In other words, it is about what He does for us, not what we do for Him. I find sometimes, that when I sing, I am not really paying close attention to the words.
So I read the hymn, and as I did so, I found I couldn’t sing. I was thinking about each and every word and each verse (you can read the lyrics here) and later, when the sermon was preached, it was that much better.
At the end of the service, we sang another favorite - I Am Trusting Thee Lord Jesus. As I read and sang that hymn, I recalled that I had been singing it to myself during the week. I grew up listening to Classic Rock, classical music and church hymns. I will easily switch from one to another. It is a great opportunity to compare. While I can appreciate the words found in contemporary music – there is empathy there because we are all human. We are all sinners. We all fail. But those songs do not bring me any kind of lasting comfort. I appreciate them for the talents of the musician but I often find myself arguing with them silently over the lyrics. I then find a favorite hymn I have memorized because of repeated reading.
Hopefully, this sermon, and these hymns, will give you Words of comfort to remind you of what Christ has done for you and what He continues to do for you.
Vicar Darrin Sheek