In The Shadow... We Sing


Sermon Outline By Terry Siverd

Cortland Church of Christ / September 03, 2017

Last Monday I was in the doldrums.

I was physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted.

Saturday and Sunday were difficult days for me.

I should have taken Monday off - - Jeannie was off that day - - but we had a previously planned engagement.

We met a dear friend from days gone by for an early breakfast at Bob Evans in Ashtabula.

By itself, that could have been refreshing and relaxing, but the purpose of our meeting was to plan a eulogy.

Sharon’s 36 year old daughter, Aimee, who was baptized at our Camp Judson Youth Retreat years ago,

died recently in Jacksonville, FL, of a heroin overdose and we were helping to plan her memorial.

On the way home we stopped at LuLu Falls cemetery in Kingsville to walk our dog Bodie.

Later that afternoon Jeannie took Bo to get his nails clipped and I took a nap.

I use a daytimer to logue my daily activities.  I even record “nappage”.

When I was a younger preacher, I would seldom need a nap - - nowadays they occur frequently.

It’s not just a “physical thing”, it helps to revive my soul.  It’s a quasi-spiritual nap.

Sometimes when I nap I just lay down, pet the dog, and THINK.

They etymology of the word think derives from the word thank.

If we take time to think we can’t help but reflect on things to be thankful for.

Sometimes life is both hard to bear and difficult to understand and/or accept.

Mark Lombardi’s passing … Aimee Meara’s passing … Lisa Hall’s passing.

I’ve done three funerals over a brief span of time before, but I don’t remember three who were all so young.

Terminal illnesses among dear friends and brethren.

People growing older … sicknesses at every turn, some of them quite serious.

It can get you down…if you let it.

Life can be burdensome and even unbearable if you try to go it alone.

I know, you’re probably thinking:  we need to encourage this guy to get some counseling.

Actually, there’s something therapeutic in just knowing that your listening and that you care. 

Sympathy and empathy are wonderful gifts to give to others.

David once wrote (Ps.63:6-7) - -

When I remember Thee on my bed, I meditate on Thee in the night watches.

For Thou hast been my help, and in the shadow of Thy wings I sing for joy.

When we slow down and do some meditation, we are reminder that God provides mediation.

One of the many names of Jesus is “comforter” or “counselor” (Isa.9:6 & 1 Jn.2:1).

The mediation of Christ is spiritual medication - - help is found in the shadow of His wings.

I’ve been thinking a good bit lately about the purpose of the church. 

We can thank the apostle Paul (and the Holy Spirit) for a vital piece of revelation regarding the church.

Paul speaks of the church as THE BODY OF CHRIST.  cf. Eph.1:23  & 4:12  and Col.1:18 & 24).

Sometimes we are inclined to think, “If only Jesus was here to help me.”   Yet, HE IS HERE!

God’s plan was to embody the church with the image of Jesus - - to impart to us  the mind of Christ (1Cor.2:16).

Concerning this, we have much work to do. 

Jesus once spoke about the dwelling place of God as being a city set on a hill (Mt.5:14).

In that same context He extends the image saying, you are the light of the world.

In case you’ve not noticed, we are living in a world that can be (pretty?) quite negative.

Twenty-four hour news channels combined with social media can sometimes be a downer.

We are almost instantaneously made aware of scandals, crimes, suffering and ineptitudes.

Bills pile up … Health declines … Sports, political, religious and entertainment figures disappoint us.

Everybody works with a “Negative Nancy” or a “Debbie Downer”.

Some of us live with a “Glass-half-empty Gary” or a “Always-cynical Charlie”.

Let me remind us all that as the body of Christ we are to heralds of THE GOOD NEWS.

We preachers (and all of us who wear the name of Christ) are called to exhort.

This word “exhortation” literally means “to call to one’s side for a word of encouragement”.

The church is to be a beacon of hope.

We are to be harbingers of help … couriers of grace … messengers of peace … a place or refuge.

In His first incarnation Jesus died to bring about salvation from sin and access to the Father.

In His seond incarnation, Jesus infuses the church to bring life and immortality to light through the gospel (2Tim.1:10).

In J Lombardi’s thank-you note (in today’s FamilyMatters supplement) she wrote:

I have no idea how people get thru these things without the love and support of their church families…

The outflow of love and support has been our salvation.

Libby Wood in Afghanistan wrote:  I appreciate your thoughts and prayers more than words can express

What a blessing it was to host last Sunday afternoon’s AIDENSTRONG benefit.

I’m sorry to say that we actually had a couple of Negative Nancys who asked something like:

“If they worship somewhere else, why doesn’t their own church host this event?”

We came to find out later that they tried to get other churches to host the event to no avail.

For whatever reasons I do not know.

All I know is that the good Lord provides us with an opportunity to shine, and shine we did!

Although we were in the fog of a great loss, we remained in the shadow of His wings and we were able to SING.

This is the latter part of Ps.63:7 - - Thou hast been my Help, and in the shadow of Thy wings I sing for joy.

It’s not just that we sing, rather it is that we sing FOR JOY.

Last Sunday morning our worship began with, “I Love You Lord…”.

We can’t help but recall (again), the story of Paul & Silas imprisoned in Philippi.

Acts 16:25 notes (without great fanfare):  about midnight Paul & Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God…

Not some “woe is me” song.  Not some rendition of “all we are is dust in the wind”.

They sang hymns of PRAISE to God, despite their circumstances (having been beaten and bleeding and in pain).

I wished that last Sunday’s worship in song could have been recorded (I think we have a technical glitch).

It was a genuine inspiration.  The singing was marvelous.

It wasn’t that we ignored the sorrow, but rather that the sorrow evoked the need to unite our voices in praise to God.

The 63rd psalm was written by David while he was in the wilderness of Judah.

A fact-check would reveal that he was not on a vacation.  He was actually in banishment.

Vs.1 / O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly;

My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

This is one of the greatest of challenges - - to recognize, even in dark days, that we are in the shadow of God’s wings.

Remember, in this case the shadow was not a curse, but rather a blessing from the scorching rays of the sun.

The shadow was the silver lining within the cloud.

Thus David SANG.  Thus, with jubilant lips, David SANG FOR JOY.

I’ve said this before but I want to say it again:  some of us need to work at our singing.

I’m not talking here about the technical skills of reading music and singing just right mechanically.

I talking about HEART - - are we singing and making melody in our hearts to the Lord?

Half-hearted singing is a downer.  Whole-hearted singing is an upper.

Fred Chester has agreed to occupy Mark Lombardi’s former position at the back of the auditorium.

Both of these men (Mark, and now Fred) know how to sing with their heart.

I’ll close with one more prompting.  I don’t mean to harp on this, but it provides a teachable moment.

There’s an old adage that says - - you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

I’m thinking here about visitors who come our way looking for a city on a hill of the light of the world.

If some of you are filled with joy in worship to God, your mouth and facial features have an odd way of showing it.

I’m not trying to create a congregation of robots or Stepford singers.

This point has a strong bearing on our being light and being a city set on a hill.

Some of you may not even like to sing, but for the sake of Christ and for the glory of His church, sing we must!

And why not?

Even in the midst of turmoil and heartaches galore, we reside in the shadow of His wings.

If we can keep entrusting ourselves to God Almighty, that will be more than enough to inspire our song.

A Swedish proverb states:  those who wish to sing will find a song.

Whether at home or as a congregation assembled to worship, let us find our song, and let us sing for joy to the Lord.

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