Midweek Lent 2, 2016 Bunker Hill Psalm 91
Recently, I heard the host of a radio talk show ask a guest. “Aren’t you preaching to the choir?” The implication is that the guest was trying to convince people of the rightness of his position who are already convinced that the speaker is correct. Could it be that the choir also needs to hear preaching? “Well, who is this choir?” I don’t see the choir from Concordia seminary here. No, the choir of which I speak is you and me. We who are gathered here this evening are God’s choir. It matters not whether we sing in tune or monotone God has chosen us all and put all of us into his choir. As it happens at every worship service, we are here this evening for choir practice, because that’s what worship is. It’s practicing for singing in the eternal choir in heaven where we will praise God the Most High, the Almighty Father, our Lord and God who was, and is, and ever shall be and Christ the Lamb, who was slain and is now risen from the dead.
Therefore, choir of God give ear to God’s sermon this evening. Yes, God’s sermon. The one preaching to the choir, to you and me, this evening is none other than God. Listen to what God has to say. It’s a short sermon. He tells us,
“In your great love for me, You cling to me for dear life.
I’ll deliver you from your troubles.
You know my name and trust me, I’ll protect you.
When you call on me, I’ll answer. I’ll be by your side in the bad times;
I’ll rescue you and honor you as one of my own;
I’ll satisfy you with a long life, and show you my salvation.”
Did you hear that? Because you cling to him and know his name he promises, “I will be with you in the bad times; in all your troubles, I am there.” What a great preacher is our God. Our God is so great that the author of Psalm 91 needs four names to tell us of our sheltering protecting God. He is the Most High, Almighty, Lord and God.
He is the Most High, far beyond what we might imagine God to be, above and beyond the farthest galaxy in the universe. He is the owner of everything. Yet, he takes a deep interest in our personal lives. When the angel Gabriel told Mary she would give birth to a son whose name would be Jesus; Mary asked how that could happen. Gabriel said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” This is the Most High who does not dwell in temples made of stones; yet in Jesus the Most High was found in the temple at age 12. This is the Most High who is beyond all mountains, planets, stars and galaxies, and yet is as near as this sanctuary.
The Most High is also the Almighty Heavenly Father, whose name we ask to be made holy on earth as it is in heaven in the Lord’s Prayer. He is the one to whom we pray for our daily bread. He is God, our Almighty Father to whom, according to Luther, we “In all boldness and confidence may ask Him for whatever we want as dear children ask their dear father.” Many of us remember, especially as new parents, looking in on our sleeping child just to be sure everything is okay. We may even have gone in and poked them a bit just to be extra sure. When we go to bed this evening the he Almighty is looking in on us at night. The Almighty is present there when the troubles of the day leave us tossing and turning in the dark time hours. So we are precious in the Almighty’s sight, we are his and He is our Father, who knows when we sit down or rise up; who was there in our mother’s womb as we were formed cell by cell.
God is also the Lord who is “my refuge and my fortress…my God in whom I trust.” At Holy Cross in Collinsville, there is a stained glass window above and off to the right of the pulpit. It depicts a young lady clinging to a rock with waves crashing in from a dark and stormy sea. John W Behnken who served as the president of our church body from 1935-1962 may have been preaching at Holy Cross or at a church which had a similar window. Behnken said that day, “Angry and furious waves rage turbulently, but they cannot swallow the woman who clings to the rock.” The woman in the stained glass window is clinging to the rock of her deliverance, Jesus Christ, the Rock of our salvation, the Lord who is our refuge and fortress.
Lastly, God’s fourth name is, well, just plain God. “My God in whom I trust.” And Jesus Christ has rolled up into himself the fullness of God. Jesus is the Most High participating in creating the world. Jesus is the Almighty who enfolds us in his mighty arms. He is the Lord of our life nourishing us now with daily bread and the words of eternal life. He is present with his blessings. The repentant criminal beside him on the cross received such a blessing, “Today you shall be with me in Paradise.” One day we too will hear him say, “Come blessed of my Father inherit the kingdom created for you before the creation of the world.”
Our choir practice for this evening is nearly over. As we leave, continue to practice your part this week in living under his protection, trusting that when we call, the Most High and Almighty Father, our Lord and our God will answer.