Preparing for Worship: March 9, 2014
The sermon text for this Sunday is Luke 19:1-10, which you can read here. It’s hard to forget catchy songs like “Zacchaeus was a wee little man,” the subject of the sermon. When you think about it, that song has absolutely no redeeming value. It simply tells the narrative of Zacchaeus and how Jesus went to his house. The song says nothing about Zacchaeus’ repentance and desire to repay those whom he cheated fourfold. Moreover, it says nothing about Jesus, the minor character in the song. Yet most of us who learned that song as children will likely never forget it. I’m not arguing that it’s a bad song to teach our children (my kids know it by heart…), but that the narrative of Zacchaeus as portrayed in that song leaves the door open to interpretation. The actual passage in Luke 19 does not leave the story open to interpretation. Jesus declares in verses 9-10, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
The Zacchaeus song illustrates the importance of singing in our churches, both the form of the songs and the content. Our songs, hymns, and spiritual songs should be memorable, ones that stick in our heads as we walk away from the weekly gathering. This is the function of songs in general, after all, and church songs are no different. Yet our songs should tell clearly the theology of the church. This Sunday we will sing two songs that tell the full narrative of Jesus in memorable tunes: “In Christ Alone,” and “Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery.” These songs are important, I think, because they address the person and work of Jesus in winsome, creative tunes. In other words, there is both robust theological content and creativity in the lines, strophes, and stanzas. More to the point, these songs leave little doubt as to subject of our salvation, and I hope that they encourage you to memorize and sing the great songs of the church. You may find out that, years and years later, they are still stuck in your head. But unlike the Zacchaeus song, which merely tells a narrative, the story of Jesus is the story of the gospel, a narrative that is never boring and which has eternal redemptive value.
Songs that we will sing this week include the following, provided in a playlist here:
- God Undefeatable
- God of Wonders
- Jesus is Better
- You Are Worthy
- Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery
Pastor for Worship.