Singing When You Can’t be Winning

Sermon , Pentecost 4A, Sunday July 5, 2020, St Petri

Romans 7:15-25a 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21 So I find this law at work: although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[b] a slave to the law of sin. Matthew 11:16-19,25-30 16 ‘To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the market-places and calling out to others: 17 ‘“We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon.” 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.’ 25 At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. 27 ‘All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’

Ever felt that no matter what you did or did not do, you just could not win? I feel this way about the decreasing appearance of hair on my head! I feel that I can’t win when it comes to winning at Scrabble in my house. Very rare, and when it happens it is luck!

But more seriously, maybe we are all feeling like we can’t win over this virus at the moment? It seems that it remains a threat and will be for some time, and possibly a very long time. 

When you can’t win, no matter what you think or do, you still have to respond to keep going. What do you do when you can’t win? There’s at least three options.

  1. You can choose to stop trying to win. You just keep to yourself – just isolate yourself more and protect yourself from any further loss. There is a time for that. We have been living in that kind of time. 

  2. You can just try harder – be smarter, be stronger, be bolder – just power on. You might not win but at least you will not just fade away unnoticed either. But you still lose in the end. 

  3. There is another way to respond to not being able to win. You can enjoy another person’s win. You can sing their victory song. It is not your song, but can become your song because he allows that. 

Jesus must have often felt that he could not win. Whatever he said and did he could just not seem to ‘win’ with them. 

16 ‘To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the market-places and calling out to others: 17 ‘“We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon.” 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.’

The kids are playing in the street. They yell out to the adults, “Sing a happy song with us”. No one sings. “Then sing a sad song with us”. No one sings. 

Whatever Jesus sings, people will just not join his song. 

Like John the Baptist, who came singing that prophet’s song in the desert with  only bugs and honey for comfort, and then Jesus coming eating and drinking at parties with the wrong people, people will not join in God’s tune.

Why won’t people join in?

The people will not join in the happy song or the sad song not because they don’t like the particular song, it is because it is not their song. 

People want to be the song leader of their life – happy or sad, good or bad – as long as I am calling the shots. People refuse to sing anyone’s song that is not their song. 

I picture a little girl who refuses to smile or join in with a lovely children’s song that Dad puts on – She is not budging because she wanted another song, not that one! She just stands with arms crossed, sad face and stomping feet in protest!

Is that you at the moment? You’ve got your noise cancelling headphones of self-interest and pride firmly on and no matter what God says or does, you are not joining in….?

When Jesus can’t win he keeps on singing anyway. He says that in the end,

‘… wisdom is proved right by her deeds.’ (Matthew 11:19)

He ‘does’ his song not just sings it. His deeds of loving victory over all the disease, death, destruction and despondency that defeats us are proven right by what he endures, what he goes through, what he wins for us in that cross and resurrection from death itself. 

What keeps him going, when he can’t win? 

‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 

His Father keeps him going, when he just can’t win. 

He says that ‘Unless you become like little children, you cannot inherit your winning inheritance of acceptance, love, hope and joy in me”.

There are people stomping their feet in protest about not being able to play their own tune in life. It really cheeses them off that they cannot win over the disease, the virus, the politics, the war the dying and death. They know they can never really totally win over their fears and foibles. It really gets on their goat that they have to rely on Jesus’ victory over everything for them. Is that you? It is me, at times. 

There are people who have stopped singing; given up any hope of getting through that weakness, dealing with that destructive behaviour, that hurtful thinking, that relationship that seems defeated. Is that you? It is me at times. 

There are also people who are like a child playing in the street. We join with Jesus singing.

‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 

We sing Jesus’ song to invite others into this song of HIS victory over any sin, his healing in my suffering, his hope in these COVID times, his future for this global ecosystem. Is that you? Thankfully, it is me at times. 

Whoever you are, hear now where Jesus sings; hear what his song is about:

27 ‘All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

We keep singing the faith because we are chosen by a loving Parent who has let us in on his plans, his future, his new possibilities, when WE could not have sung a note of them.

Friends. We cannot win many things. We cannot win this war going on inside of us that Paul describes in Romans 7

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. …… 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing (Romans 7:15-19)

But when you can’t win, now the best news you will hear this week. 

28 ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 

In the battle of your soul going on inside and the many things that seem to beat you on the outside comes these words from Jesus:

‘Come”. Come to me and rest today. 

You will get a rest that is way more healing, satisfying, peaceful than even this COVID time rest. 

29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’

Amen

#2530 #rest #Romans71525a #Pentecost5A #songoffaith #Matthew111619

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