Stop and sing a new song Revelation 5:4-11

So what kind of music do you like?  What is the song that your heart wants to sing?  Singing reaches deep into our being.  We sing when we are happy.  We sing the anthem before a sporting event.  We sing during a worship service.  Songs of justice are sung by those enslaved to inspire hope.  Singing does something to us.  Singing enables us to express what comes from the heart.  The Revelation reading is full of song.  In particular,  a new song.

John is still recording the revelation that is being given to him.  The One who sits in glory on the throne has a scroll waiting to be opened and read.  Who is worthy to do this?  None in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll.  Then came a Lamb looking like it had been slain appeared and took the scroll.  All of heaven burst out in song.

The living creatures and the elders bowed down and began singing a new song.  Angels numbering in the tens of thousands joined in the song.  Every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the the sea, and all that is in them – all of creation – joined in the song.  It was a new song to worship the Lamb.

The book of Revelation helps to refocus our attention upon the One who is worthy of worship.  It wasn’t Rome or Caesar, or any other power at the time.   The Lamb who was slain alone is worthy.

We are constantly being divided by identity.  Our allegiance is demanded as Democrat or Republican, as liberal or conservative, as evangelical or none.  The demand for identity doesn’t permit critical thought over who is worthy of our support, or allegiance or worship.

All of heaven and creation is singing a new song.  The Lamb who was slain has done what none other can do.  Jesus Christ is the Lamb.  He unites us from every tribe and language and nation.  His blood has given us a new identity as children of our God.  He is our salvation from the sinful division.  He has given us a new purpose and that is to serve God.  He is worthy of our worship.

So as we find ourselves ever more divided for the sake of power.  Remember who is worthy.  Sing a new song.


Why did they need to die? Luke 13:1-9

Why did they need to die?  They were going to worship their God and to offer prayers.  They were going to a place that was a sanctuary for them.  They weren’t hurting anyone.  Why did they have to die?  We’ve all heard about the shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.  Fifty Muslim worshipers were killed for what?  Worshiping at their local Mosque?

These kind of events happen all to often.  In this case we rightly blame white supremacy and hate which is grown around the world.  We also blame access to high powered guns.  We blame mental health as the problem.  Yet the question, “Why did they need to die?” never gets answered because the victims at Christchurch didn’t deserve it anymore than anybody else.

Some brought to Jesus’ attention the Galilean worshipers whose blood Pilate stirred in with their sacrifices.  “Were they any worse sinners?” he asked.  The answer was, “No.”  Then Jesus urged them to repent and not perish.  He also brought up those killed when the Tower of Siloam collapsed on them.  “Were they any worse sinners?”  Again, Jesus answered saying, “No.”  Once more came the urgency to repent and not perish.

Jesus’ answers are not all that satisfying.  We want to believe that you get what you deserve.  When a mass shooting happens, we know better than to blame the victims.  They were innocent.  When an accident brings death, we shake our heads wondering ‘why?’  So we are frightened because life suddenly seems very fragile.  The reality of death is much too close.  Jesus urges us to put our attention in a different direction to the One who is the author and giver of life.

Jesus came to show us that God’s response to sin is forgiveness and death is overruled by resurrection.  There is nothing easy about the cross of Jesus Christ but it is the way that the hand of God reaches down to the grave and pull us out to life.

Jesus called for repentance which is nothing less than a total transformation of thinking.  We get out of the thinking we get what we deserve.  The victims get what they deserve.  The hurt we do to others we justify as something they deserve.  Reality is that we don’t always get what we deserve.  Life is very fragile.

Jesus is urgent for our repentance and a turn to God who gives us forgiveness and life.  We don’t deserve this either.  This is why we call it grace.