Monday, December 24, 2018
Carol Wheeler, member Board of Trustees, American Baptist Seminary of the West, Berkeley, CA
Finding a New Song
1 O sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples.
4 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be revered above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
6 Honor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
7 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts.
9 Worship the Lord in holy splendor;
tremble before him, all the earth.
10 Say among the nations, “The Lord is king!
The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved.
He will judge the peoples with equity.”
11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12 let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
13 before the Lord; for he is coming,
for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with his truth. (New Revised Standard Version – NRSV)
“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord all the earth.” (v.1)
It is Christmas Eve, and Christians worldwide are filled with anticipation as we await the celebrations of the arrival of the Baby Jesus. The events narrated in Luke 2:8-14—the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks at night—are thought to be reflective of the spring of the year by many Bible scholars. Lambing season, sowing, birds nesting, earth reawakening from winter are all signs of the promise of new life. It is thought that early Christian communities of the northern and western regions of the Roman empire re-imagined these events “in the bleak midwinter.” Yet, in spite of dire, dark circumstances, they dared to hope, to sing a new song.
The Jewish people navigated a perilous course, under the suspicious eye of the Roman empire. The Romans were in charge, King David’s dynasty was a distant memory, so who could dare believe, let alone “Say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns’”? (v.10) After all, what would Caesar do if he heard? Herod slaughtered innocent children to maintain his power (Matthew 2:16-18).
What about today? What must the victims of war and violence be thinking today? What must the refugees and separated families be feeling today? Yet, on this holy day we dare to “Say among the nations, The Lord reigns.” With hope we “sing to the Lord a new song” (v.1) and proclaim “He will judge the peoples with equity” (v.10).
May your Spirit enable us to sing a new song. May your Spirit enable us to continue to sing through the dark mid-winter. Amen.