Easter 6  –  May 6, 2018

Rev. Lyle McKenzie       Lutheran Church of the Cross of Victoria
Acts 10:44-48; Psalm 98; 1 John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17

– Christ is risen!

– Maybe the Psalm for today provides the right leading, to sing! To sing a new song to God for all the marvelous things God has done and is doing… sing!

O Sing to the Lord  No. 822 verses 1, 2

– Maybe the Hymn festival on Friday evening with David Cherwien in the Anglican Cathedral with our choir joining the cathedral choir, and the workshop for ministers and musicians here earlier on Friday encouraging working as colleagues and even friends is part of it too!

– To sing! the assembly’s song being the primary instrument of worship, in praise and proclamation, in the liturgy, the work of God’s people for good; Sing!

As explored and expressed in the workshop, our worship songs are chosen for text and music to proclaim elements of what the Spirit is saying to God’s people in the readings for the day.

Today, the first reading tells of a Pentecost for Gentiles, the Holy Spirit poured out upon them, their speaking in tongues, and Peter, out of his own conversion sees the infinite expanse of God’s love for all, and says, “Can anyone withhold the water of Baptism from these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And they were baptized…

And so we sing! in our worship today – All Are Welcome and Baptized and Set Free proclaiming this good news of God’s Holy Spirit in Baptism open to all. Sing!

And today, the continuing readings from 1John and the Gospel of John once again command us to love, as parent and child, as God loves Jesus, as Jesus loves you, abide in Jesus’ love, keeping Jesus commandment to love, as Jesus loves you, so joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

And so we sing! today – the Hymn of the Day, the peculiar Lutheran part of the order, when the assembly sings in response to and proclamation of the Gospel, we sing! – Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

So many other songs we could have sung, like Joyful, Joyful… but musical and textual best choices need to be made from the wealth of songs that we have from different times, styles,

cultures, theologies, with new songs being added continuously…

– And so we sing, and maybe today, we need to sing, more!

especially of Jesus’ friendship in love… “No one has greater love than this,” Jesus says, “to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” “You are my friends,” Jesus says, “if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends,”

Friends of Jesus… it is easily lost on us how radical it is to speak of the Holy divine and wholly human Jesus, being friends with his followers, friend for us, friend to you. That the metaphor is not master and slave, but friend to friend with Jesus, with God; and Jesus’ friendship means the willingness to die for friends.

Maybe it’s best, more fully appreciated when we sing! of its truth… like in the very well known, and some would say, simple melody, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, written by Joseph Scriven, as a poem in 1855, to comfort his mother living in Ireland while he was living in Canada. Maybe singing allows us to be embraced by Jesus’ friendship for us and for this world in all its promise and wonder in ways we could not otherwise.

And so, sing! – What a Friend We Have in Jesus No. 742

We all know the importance of friendships, to celebrate and to grieve, to laugh and to cry, to know and be fully known, to struggle and to grow, to change and remain, together! as friends.

– This Spirit of friendship of God’s, with Jesus, inspires our friendships with one another, with all others, as friends in God…

On a journey together, not knowing where it leads but that friendship and the song of God sustains us… And so sing! – verse 1 of Lord Jesus, You Shall Be My Song No. 808

          This beautiful song, that was part of the Hymn festival on Friday, the first verse sung in French by Joe’ from Luther House; one of the Canadian hymns in this worship book produced with our Lutheran siblings in the US, the only song with the French text included, in our worship book thanks in large part to Karen Johnson-Lefsrud who served as the Canadian representative on the Hymnal Commission; this is the L’Arche song, the Christian community founded by Canadian, Jean Vanier, for people with profound mental and physical challenges to live in intentional caring community with others, to live as friends… and they sing this song about the journey… as broken and challenged, holy and whole people, friends, together…

– And so, sing! verse 2, No. 808

This song will be forever connected to a young family, mother and father and sister, and brother with profound physical and mental challenges from birth… not expected to live long, but loved and nurtured and cared for to live! to love and be so loved, for more than seven years; and then losing breath, until quietly, gently, peacefully there was no more breath in his tiny twisted body for this life, slipping quietly, gently, peacefully from the arms of mother and father and sister into the arms of God, because of the journey, the body given, the life and death and rising of Jesus, servant and friend. – And so we sang, verse 3, No. 808

          We sang it at his funeral, led by a young man with a guitar, he didn’t know it well, but he loved it immediately, and played it slowly, thoughtfully, singing with and for the community of friends gathered, many with their own children with mental and physical challenges, a support community of friends who understood completely, who stepped in and helped and had coffee ready and were just a phone call away for one another, as caregivers and loving servants, as friends! on a common journey together…

– and they all loved this song… and so for all of them, mother and father and sister especially, we sang… we sang of courage and hope on this journey of profound grief and loss, hope in God, hope in Jesus, friend to all, servant of all, by our side, saving all in love, that this child and every child of God would rise to new life, no more tears or physical or mental pain, a new dawn at the end, and the beginning, of our journey in friendship with God!

– And so we sing, verse 4, No. 808

          Catholic theologian, John J. O’Brien, C.P. wrote this:

The Spirit is shaping an affective and apostolic heart in all of us. Let us listen to that Spirit-song well and learn its melody. This song is a song of presence, of being with the other without calculation. We are not slaves; we are not members of Christ based on hierarchies of status or greater or lesser rank. We are… friends. Such friendship in Christ makes us companions at the Lord’s table. There is scandal in this: it goes against the competition models we have learned. It brings us into a communion of people bonded together in affective ties because God chose us and loved us first. The friendship we share here is one we can bring to others. Such a mission is a joy. Such action indicates a fresh initiative of the Spirit. Such a task brings delightful merriment and creative hope for our world. In love, divine love, forever… and so we sing… No. 631.

Amen.