"The Will of the Lord"
August 19, 2012 – Proper 15B
The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, pastor
West Walworth: Zion United Methodist Church
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.
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.”
Was an ancient Greek prophet,
Poet and musician.
He was able to charm all things with his music
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
And the beautiful Sirens began to sing
– to lure sailors to draw close and have their ships dashed upon the rocks –
Orpheus drew his lyre and played music
That was 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 music of the lyre;
Songs sung to a harp
That lead a collective people to join their songs
Together in one voice.
Singing together as people of faith
Is a unique religious experience
Epitomized by the Psalms.
Feelings are shared.
Praise is lifted up!
Pain and struggles are mutually carried.
Empathy is given
And is received.
Many voices make one voice to
Complain to God,
Confess to 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,
Lived in a time where the music of the church
Was being drowned out by the music of the pubs,
Hard luck coal mining life,
And by the social equivalent of economic slavery.
The state church had lost its way and its relevance.
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.
Charles revived music:
Writing over six thousands hymns,
Authoring the words to a further two thousand.
His hymns fill our hymnal today:
51 hymns, 8 poems, and 6 responses.
Where else do people gather to sing?
Besides school and the occasional sporting event anthem,
Collective music today is uniquely a faith community phenomena.
We do it to create that space
Where God can abide within
And we can abide in God.
Meno’ (pronounced Men’-o)
Is the Greek word used in our Gospel of John today for our English equivalent:
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, Paul writes in Ephesians,
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.”
This, quite simply, is what the will of the Lord is for each of us:
To abide with Christ,
Living with Christ within us
And us living within him.
We live within Christ when 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 extend 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 dying 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 and Indy music of today’s generation
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.
Sadly, I saw a colleague this past week likened the dying necessity of a lighthouse
To the state of a dying Church.
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’m uncertain the hymns and sacred music of Charles Wesley can not 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.
You don’t sing alone.
We sing together;
With one voice, one melody, one song, one Body.
You only have to open your mouth and your heart
And allow yourself to be filled with the Spirit.
This, then, is the Will of the Lord:
Abide in Christ,
And allow him to abide in you.