Sermon Notes: Sunday, 11.10.2019

11-10-19             Sermon Notes                 “For Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs”
When you count your blessings, what do you include?  Do you include music among your blessings?  Paul specifically mentioned psalms, hymns and spiritual songs among those things for which we should give thanks.    He said it in his letter to the Ephesians.  Remember that letter? 
Ephesus was a special place to Paul.  For a short time during his second missionary journey, and then for more than 2 years on his third missionary journey, Paul ministered to the church at Ephesus.  During Paul’s time there, Ephesus was home to the great Temple to the goddess Artemis.  This temple was one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.  Despite widespread pagan worship, Paul saw many people become followers of Jesus Christ during his time in Ephesus.  Paul also experienced some persecution and harassment.  Here’s how that went down:

There was a prominent silversmith in Ephesus, named Demetrius, who had a good business going making silver implements used for the worship of Artemis.  Demetrius found his business suffering because people were converting to Christianity.  He gathered up a bunch of folks and started a riot, and Paul had to leave the city.  But Paul left a stable, growing Christian community there. (Acts 18 – 19)

Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians while he was in a Roman prison.  He wanted to encourage them by reminding them of the incredible blessings they had in Jesus Christ, and he wanted to remind them not to be like their pagan neighbors.  They were to be careful how they lived.  They were to make sure to live wise, sober, thankful lives.  Here’s the passage we will use this Sunday:
15 Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, 20 giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (Eph. 5: 15-20  NRSV)

Giving thanks to God for all things…particularly psalms, hymns and spiritual songs…   Why is it so important to be thankful for psalms, hymns and spiritual songs?  Why are we thankful for “church” music?  Because this great music gives glory to god and gives refreshment to our souls!  Some of the best music ever written was written God’s glory.  Let me tell you a story from almost 300 years ago…

In 1722, in Leipzig, Germany, a search was on for a new cantor in the School of Saint Thomas and organist for the church of Saint Thomas.  The search committee found the perfect person, made that person an offer, and the person turned them down.  Then they contacted their second pick, and he also turned them down.  The committee decided, “since the best person could not be obtained,” to choose a “mediocre” candidate.  The mediocre candidate was reluctantly accepted.  His name was Johann Sebastian Bach.

It would be hard to overstate how important Bach’s music has been to the church.  His music has been called, “The Fifth Gospel.”  Bach was known to say, “All music should have no other end and aim than to the glory of God and the soul’s refreshment; where this is not remembered there is no real music but only a devilish hubbub.”

Back to Ephesians…  I think Paul was telling the church at Ephesus to always be thankful for beautiful psalms, hymns and spiritual songs that glorify God and refresh the soul.  Let the pagans have the devilish hubbub.  We’re thankful for the good stuff!

See you Sunday!
Pastor Sam
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