Sunday, January 19, 2014

A New Song in My Mouth

Most people who have been reading this blog for awhile are aware that hymns play a major role in my faith journey.  God used the hymnal of the Episcopal Church to steer me back into a parish, so that I could begin this long, amazing, anxious, and yet strangely calming trek toward living into eternal life.  So, you might imagine my delight at reading this particular verse out of today's appointed psalm:

      He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God; *
    many shall see, and stand in awe,
    and put their trust in the Lord. (Ps. 40:3)

There's no doubt that that certainly happened to me!

And with that new song in my mouth has come a new understanding of Christ and what it means for me to be marked as one of Christ's own forever.  I had never really paid much attention, or even thought that I had a heritage in Christianity.  The loud mouths and the false prophets had successfully sold me on a story that I simply couldn't buy into about a Jesus who only loved the perfect, the straight, the ones who could give a lot of money.  Basically, Jesus could love everybody, except me.  The hymns that haunted me after my dad died and lured me back into the church exposed those lies and showed me a long history of just how deep and wide God's love is for all of us made manifest in the physical presence of Jesus Christ as "God with us."

The lessons for this morning, all of which speak to the calling and the gathering of those who will be charged with being "a light to the nations," are part of that on-going message of Love.  For Isaiah, it is a love that has extended before time, when he was still in the womb.  It is the love that God showed to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.  Now, God is bringing that love of to the people through the prophets.  I'm always a little amazed when I hear fellow Christians characterize the God described by our Hebrew ancestors as a "judgmental and vengeful God."  Really, if God was that vengeful, God could have just said, "Y'know what: I'm done with humanity!" and drowned the whole lot of us and that would have been the end.  But, as our story goes, God gave Noah the instructions on how to save himself and many choice creatures.  And then, through that covenant, promised not to wipe us off the face of the earth, no matter how tempting it might be.  Is the story of Noah and the Flood real?  No, not likely.  But again, that's not the point.  The point is that God is love, and love will not quit.  Hence, the prophets, such as Isaiah, who finds his strength in God, will become one who will bring God's love to the people.  The same can be said for the reading out John as today's Gospel.  John the Baptist, who in last week's lesson, witnessed the Holy Spirit descending as a dove on Christ, sees Jesus walking about and proclaims to those who were his own followers: there is the Lamb of God!  This is the one we've been waiting for!   John's disciples begin to fall in line behind Jesus.  One of them, Andrew, fetches his brother, Simon, and gets him to come meet this Rabbi, Jesus.

He first found his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Ce'phas" (which is translated Peter).--John 1:41-42

Re-naming him "Peter" is an important detail.  As we learn later in the story, it is Peter who denies Jesus, and then it is Peter whom Jesus redeems on a beach after the Resurrection, and it will be Peter who will stand up at the time that the Holy Spirit gets the whole group of disciples babbling in foreign tongues to proclaim who Jesus is, and why people should come to believe in his power to redeem and renew the world.   Not only will Peter get a new name, he, too, will get a new song in his mouth.

Each one of us who comes to believe and follow Christ are gifted with this new song.  Each one of us is encouraged to sing out in full voice the new song that is written on our hearts.  I believe that the more who join the chorus and sing of this love called Love have the power to drown out the false prophets of the world.   And that's a song many still need to hear.   

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