“ O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.” (Psalm 96:1, NRSV)
“Just Keep Singing”
It seems like the psalmist is challenging us today with this call to “sing a new song”. Aren’t the old songs good enough? How many new songs can we possibly learn? Besides, some of the new songs aren’t really that good anyway. What does the psalmist really mean by this challenge? What are the new songs we are supposed to be singing? And, what if we don’t sing very well; should we still sing out loud? Or, could it be that the real way we sing to the Lord is through the way in which we live our lives every day? Maybe what we can learn from this psalm is that the Lord wants us to live in a new and different way that reflects God’s presence in our lives.
Verses 3-5a tell us: “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples. For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be revered above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols.” There is a universal message contained in these words; this is a message that transcends the centuries since the psalm was written and applies to our world today, where idol worship is well-hidden in the culture.
It is also an invitation for us to engage the world in which we live in new ways. Ecumenical and interfaith dialogues continue to be a growing need in our culture. Technology has brought the world closer together and the way in which Christians engage people of other faiths is an ongoing issue. What does it look like to confess God’s glory among the nations? How do we profess our faith in the one true God in ways that are respectful to those who believe otherwise? How does the international dialogue move forward as we proclaim that “The Lord is king,” without igniting the next holy crusade?
We are invited to engage with the world in ways that allow us to be true to the song we feel compelled to sing as we live our lives as followers of Jesus. We must also remember that others also sing their particular songs rooted in what they firmly believe and profess. We must seek ways to engage one another with respect and a willingness to listen for areas where we can agree in principle, if not in fact. Ideally, we should be able to find ways to harmonize more often than not. This is hard work and it requires us to recognize that God created all sorts of people who do not agree on everything. God also created us to live together in spite of our differences.
From time to time we talk about how a certain melody is “our song”. We may have a particular song that recalls a great memory or one that defines a relationship. “Our song” conjures powerful images when we hear it on the radio. What “song” would we say characterizes our lives? Would it be a new song of “hope” for the world? Might there be a song about “faith” or “love” included on our new mix tape?
Psalm 96 invites us to at least try singing a new song. It does not have to be perfect. Given our humanity, it probably will not be. We may not think that we can sing this new song very well. Do not worry – there are others with us to help us find the right notes and the best lyrics. Together we can sing the “new” songs of hope that not only remind us of what God is doing but become the instruments that God uses to make the hope a reality!
Just keep singing,