O sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things. His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory. The Lord has made known his victory; he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations. He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth in joyous song and sing praises. Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody. With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord. Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who live in it. Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.
On Wednesday morning, my little sister went to the elementary school where she is fulfilling a student teaching requirement. Like every other day, she gathered with the young children in their classrooms, explained and demonstrated their projects, and then went around the room to help individuals as needed. One particular young girl was clearly distracted from her work, and when my sister asked if everything okay, she looked up with terror in her eyes and asked, “Am I going to get deported?”
On Wednesday morning, thousands of angry citizens gathered in California to protest the results of the election. Though initially peaceful, the protest quickly turned violent and the crowd began attacking the police and lighting dumpsters on fire. As tear gas was fired into the crowd to break up the demonstration, the people only shouted their chants even louder, “Kill Trump, Kill Trump, Kill Trump.”
On Wednesday morning, a woman walked into a Wal-Mart somewhere in the Midwest while wearing her hijab. She went down the aisles picking out her items when another woman walked up, grabbed her by the shoulder while pointing at her hijab, and said, “That would look better around your neck. This is our country now.”
On Wednesday morning, countless Trump voters woke up to the news they prayed for, only to receive hateful and violent comments from friends and relatives alike. They received emails and notes saying things like: “If you voted for Trump, you’re the reason America has fallen apart. If you voted for Trump, you are a bigoted racist sexist monster.”
On Wednesday morning, white students at a Junior High School in Michigan formed a human wall to block minority students from entering the building. There were shouts of “go back to your country,” and “we’re making America great again.”
On Wednesday morning, a man was driving through a suburb of Chicago when a crowd of young men surrounded his car, pulled him from the vehicle, and dragged him through the streets. They attacked him because he had a Trump sticker on the bumper, and videos show the crowd screaming, “You voted for Trump, and now you’re going to pay for it.”
Throughout scripture, if the Israelites are told to do one thing more than any other, it is to remember. Remember the covenant God made with Noah and Abraham, remember the acts of God which liberated you from slavery in Egypt, remember the care God provided to you in the wilderness through water and manna, remember the mighty deeds of God delivering you to the Promised Land, remember the story and teach it to you children, and your children’s children.
It is easy to remember God’s salvific work in the world when things are going our way. When we rest contently in the communion of our friends and family, when we check the bank account and see our savings increase, when we sleep comfortably in our beds with the heat pumping through the vents. It is easy to sing a song to the Lord when we feel like everything in our life is part of God’s great victory.
We can grab the hymnal and belt out the great songs of our faith. We can be reconnected with the great tradition of the church, and the story of scripture, which helps to root us in our discipleship. We can sing because we feel God’s marvelous work.
However, it is hard to remember and be thankful for all of God’s deeds when it feels like our lives are falling apart. When we wake up and see that our candidate lost the election, or when we wake up and are belligerently berated for voting for the candidate that won, when we are terrified about how we will pay all the bills by the end of the month, when we throw dirt onto the coffin of someone we love, when we shiver in the loneliness of life wondering if anyone even cares about us. It is hard to sing a song to the Lord when we feel like everything in our life is crumbling under the weight of suffering.
We struggle to lift up the hymnal and sing the songs of faith because they feel so disconnected. How can we sing the Lord’s songs when life feels so miserable? How can we sing when people on both sides of the political aisle are filled with anger, fear, and resentment? We fail to praise the Lord through song because we feel like there’s nothing worth praising.
And yet the psalmist calls for us to sing a new song. We might be sitting by the rivers of Babylon and still we must sing. We might’ve voted for Hillary Clinton and can’t believe she lost, and still we must sing. We might’ve voted for Donald Trump and our being attacked for our political opinions, and still we must sing.
We sing a new song because God is doing a new thing. God is working in and through the people of this church to bring about the kingdom of God on earth. Whether through a bible study, a prayer, or a simple smile from a pew on Sunday morning, God is doing a new thing here through the establishment of a community based on God’s love and not our own political opinions. God is doing a new thing here by giving us the strength and the courage to pray for, and love, the people who don’t agree with us.
We sing a new song because in singing we proclaim God’s victory. And to be abundantly clear, God’s victory is not in a new president being elected to the White House; we do not praise the Lord for a victory of one political candidate over another.
God’s victory is altogether different.
In singing of God’s victory, in praising the Lord for God’s steadfast love and faithfulness, we break free from the tyranny of things, and the bondage of our own modern Babylon. With one voice, let me say that again, with one voice we reject the messiness and despair of our world and look for God’s mercy and grace.
Over the last week, and throughout the entire election, we witnessed greed, and anger, and derision in one another and ourselves. Our communities are no longer neighborhoods of neighbors, but are instead isolated walls of division that prevent us from encountering God in the “other.” Instead of joining together in worship on Sunday mornings, or gathering together for celebratory block parties, we are consumed by computers and phones that promise “true” communities through social networks of people who look like us, think like us, and behave like us.
And yet God offers a new thing to this new community we call the church. God offers us himself in Jesus Christ, the one for whom we sing. Jesus Christ was, is, and always will be the new thing God is doing in this world. The life, death, and resurrection of the Son of Man shows how God can make a way out of no way, how God defeated death, and how God frees us for true and perfect freedom.
So we sing a new song, because in singing we proclaim that God lives and reigns. We sing because the world is about to change – God is changing it. We sing not because we are happy, and not because we are sad, but because we have a song to sing, a song about our God who loves, cares, and remains steadfast.
For we know that those on the margins of society, the ones who are afraid in the wake of the recent election, the children who are afraid of being deported, are the very people God calls us to love and care for. Through the songs of the past and the stories of scripture we experience the importance of ministering toward the sojourners for we, like them, are strangers in a strange land.
We know that that violent protests calling for the murder of Donald Trump are an abomination to the Lord. God implores us to remember the sanctity of all life from a young girl in an art classroom to the new president-elect of the United States of America. Through God’s mighty acts in Jesus Christ we know there is goodness in all people, and we are the ones often tasked with looking for it while others turn blind eyes.
We know that threatening people of other faiths is in fundamental dissonance with God’s willingness to elect us gentiles into the great covenant of the Israelite people. For a long time, we were the strangers from the outside looking in. We were the ones viewed with suspicion and unease. And that to do that to others now, is to forget and be ignorant of God’s love made manifest in the one who died on a cross for the world.
We know that denigrating and berating people for their vote is the equivalent of the judgment God commands us to abstain from.
We know that making a human wall to prevent minorities from entering a school is in sharp contrast to the one who invites all to the table and to the feast.
We know that violently attacking someone for a bumper sticker, for their political identity, is the beginning of a slippery slope back toward a world in which 6 million Jews were murdered, blacks were segregated from the rest of society, and Christians were stoned and beaten for believing that Jesus is Lord.
And we know all of this because we know Jesus Christ, and him crucified. In the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus we receive the story of our own lives that transcends all other identities, including our political opinions. Jesus Christ is the one who transformed, and continues to transform the world. We sing our songs in praise of the Lord because Jesus Christ makes a way where there is no way.
Not a way of ignorance and lazy unity, but a way of unrelenting commitment to the poor, the marginalized, and the vulnerable.
Not a way of isolation and fear, but a way of courage in our convictions about who we are and whose we are.
Not a way of violence and death, but a way that brings forth new life and new opportunities for all to discover the beauty of the infinite.
So we sing a new song to the Lord, for God has broken the chains of our slavery to political isolation and frees us to love one another without fear. We sing a new song of God’s unending love and amazing grace in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We sing a new song in response to God’s mercy that reigns like a flood. We sing a new song because the Lord is doing a new thing. Amen.