Sing a new song.
Something completely new.
Something you’ve never sung before.
You don’t know the words, you can barely hum the tune, but sing it anyway.
Try it on for size…no, just jump in and belt it out.
Maybe you don’t sing with the confidence you would if it were the old song, the familiar song, the song that makes sense and feels easy. Maybe you don’t feel so comfortable with the instruments, or worry that you’ll be singing alone.
Tell you what – how about if we sing with you?
And not just us, the whole earth – the chaotic seas will sing too, and they can’t sound more in tune than you do – the floods will clap their messy hands; just make a joyful noise, really, any noise will do.
But make it loud, ok?
Because the hills are going to join in on this, and really, the world itself, and all those who live in it. It will be a song like no other, so get ready to sing. Are you ready?
This song, it means something.
This is one reason it is a new song and not the old songs.
It is not a song of proper religion. It is not a song of patriotism, or a song of war. It is not a lament for how terrible things are, or a song of social consciousness or commentary. This song simply can’t be sung by ‘us and them’, or played on bandwagons or soap boxes, and it’s not a rally song, a commercial jingle, or background music in an elevator. It’s not like the old songs in any way at all, so you need to let all those go if you’re really going to sing this song.
This is not a lullaby we’ll be singing, here, this song is more of a wake up and take notice type song. It is a remember and never, ever, ever forget kind of song. It is a song for all the times when you were treated unfairly, and not only you, but all of those who were treated unfairly, ever –even by you.
It is a song for the times you were overlooked and undervalued, the times you were nothing but a number, or a diagnosis, or an accessory, or a liability.
This is a song for the ravaged and destroyed creation; over the parched, burning and starving earth, it sings crashing seas and clapping floods and quenching rain. And where she’s drowning in sorrow it lifts the ground from waterlogged sludge, and drapes it gently over the line to dry in the tender breeze and warm sun. It’s that versatile and powerful a song.
This is a song for all the times when evil won, and those times were many and great - countless, or so we thought - it sings right in the face of those times, it thrusts it’s wide eyes and unquenchable joy right up under the nose of those times and opens its mouth and belts out with all gusto right into the shocked and startled face of evil, knocking it down on its bottom to stare up in stunned standstill at the wild and mighty sound of the song.
This is a song of justice that tears through the paper thin fragility of justice and liberty for all, that lifts up all the incidences – every single one – where injustice and oppression were really the rule, where lives didn’t matter as much as money, where people were forsaken for power – the song, you will hear it, has every one of their voices, loud and strong, vindicated and joyful, each forsaken child, every cheated worker, and every single starving, sick, disregarded or devalued human being that has ever been, all the silenced and ignored and unheeded voices will rise together in a sound so great that it shatters glass ceilings into a million pieces, reduces palaces to rubble and grinds diamonds to dust, they will sing out a sound so powerful it drowns out every bomb and bullet and lie and label, and quakes opens the prisons and graves and sets the captives free.
So get ready, because this is some song.
This is not just any song, it is the song of the earth for her king, her Creator; this is a song of all things made right.
But you know, this song, actually, is kind of a dangerous song.
It is not a song for the faint of heart.
We already discovered you don’t need to really know the words, or even the tune, you don’t have to have practiced or learned this song, in fact, there is really no way to do so, you just sing it.
But you have to be willing to sing it.
Are you willing to sing it?
Because if you hear this song you can’t ever go back.
You can’t pretend you didn’t hear it. You can’t be the way you were before you sang it. It changes you, but not just you; it changes everything. So if you’re comfortable with how things are, I mean, if you don’t really want to see things too terribly different, than you’d better not sing the song.
Just to be safe.
Because there are no secrets once this song has been sung.
There is nothing hidden that doesn’t get revealed.
And all the things that look strong, or sure, or important, they might seem kind of silly and stupid once you hear this song.
So if you care a whole lot about those things, better not to sing it, at least not just yet. Let them get tarnished first, broken in, disappointing, let the expectations get a little bit dashed and the frustration build a bit, because this song is for everyone and everything, except it is NOT a song for the satisfied.
It is not a song for the secure and the worthy, for the strong and the powerful, and it certainly doesn’t make you right or tell you who’s wrong.
It kind of makes a joke of all that, and if that is where you’re at, better to cover your ears and turn away for as long as you can stand it before it overpowers you, because you’re going to be really cut down to size and I can’t imagine that will be a very pleasant experience.
But once you are, there is a place for you in this song too.
Actually, it’s kind of the only way you can join in the song, is when you know that in singing it, you pass judgment on yourself, but you sing it anyway.
Because – and this is the most important part, maybe I forgot to say this – the song is not about you.
It’s actually not really about any of us, or anything we know or have done or ever will do. It’s about God. It’s all about God.
It’s about what God has done and what God will do.
It’s about God who does things, and doesn’t just watch it all and keep to Godself.
But God watches too, and doesn’t miss a thing, so there is nothing, nothing that doesn’t get made right in this song.
It sounds like kind of a lot, and it is, actually.
Way more than you or I could ever bear.
Way more joy, and justice, than we would know what to do with in a thousand lifetimes.
But we don’t really need to worry about it.
We just need to pay attention.
The chorus is coming. And when you’re paying attention, you get to see that it has already started. Here and there it startles you, or makes you cry for no reason, or gives you a weird thrill of recognition and irrational hope.
We’ve found ways to explain it away, the crazies, the anomalies, the exceptions, the sentimental or insane, but they’re not, really, they’re the song, peaking through the frayed seams, busting through a rip in the knee or a tear in a button-hole of the fabric of our so-called reality.
The stranger stands and shouts a few notes before helping someone off the bus, the man on the overpass with the sign grips the change in his fist and hollers a bit of the melody into the passing traffic below, Chaplain Amy turns off the lights and walks past the doors of the sleeping or weeping children at Saint Joe’s, and she rings out a tone that echoes in the halls for a split second, the exhausted men and women fishing no longer strangers and their neighbors and dogs from the floodwaters and ferrying them to safety wring poignant harmony from the sweet sound of souls greeting and grasping each other in relief and welcome.
In fact, all over the world, if we just know how to listen, above us, beneath us, before us and afterwards too, we’ll hear that the song has begun; and the very earth itself is humming in anticipation. Just lift your gaze to the red tipped treetops and breathe, or plunge your hand into some soil for a moment. Close down the computer, shut off the phone, turn off the tv and lights and curl up at an open window as the day slips into night and crickets and katydids hold steady chorus beneath the city sounds.
The noise is building.
And we, here today, we sing the song. It’s what we do.
It’s why in the world we come and do this thing called worship that accomplishes nothing at all, as any reasonable person familiar with the old songs could tell you.
We come here together to share song, to remember the truth, to recount the steadfast love of our Lord, the coming and sharing and dying and rising, backwards and upside down, breaking in and spilling out, never ending and always persisting salvation of our God-with-us.
We warm up our voices and pipe out a few notes in defiance of the deafening silence, in far-fetched musical mutiny to the grating discord of the world around us, and really, on its behalf, because like it or not, ready or not, the song is coming.
So you might as well sing along.