Scripture: Revelation 5
Sermon: “The Whole World’s Singing”
Pastor Todd Buurstra

This is a recording of the Contemporary Service (9:15 am).

The code read: 97850 38649 45261 29640 24713.
Since Pearl Harbor the US Navy code breakers had been sweating it out for 12-hour shifts, seven days a week. The future of democracy depended on cracking JN-25. By April of 1942 the Rochefort code breakers had cracked about 1/3 of the Japanese code. Not enough, but real progress. With that 1/3 they informed Admiral Nimitz that they thought that Japan was preparing an amphibious assault on an Australian base. Nimitz moved two carriers, the Lexington and the Yorktown to the area. The Royal Navy of Japan torpedoed the Lexington and sunk it, and badly damaged the Yorktown, but for the first time in WW II the Navy inflicted enough damage to turn Japan from Australia. The code message? Urgent submarine reconnaissance Australia tomorrow. Once they cracked it, one burst into the classic: Hallelujah!… another into a popular song of the day: Praise the Lord, and pass the… Funny how we all celebrate with song, but which song: pop or classical,your song or mine?

The last book in Revelation is in code language…because of the battle between God and Satan, the Roman empire and the persecuted Christians, and today: good and evil. In this code the seven-sealed scroll represents a hard book to understand, the Bible, God’s Word. Who can open the seals; i.e., break the code? No one. The beads of sweat multiply on the foreheads of the universe, like it did with the JN-25 codebreakers. Until One is deemed worthy to break the seals/code. The seven-eyed, seven-horned Lamb. Who is this all-wise (the eyes), all-powerful (the horns) Lamb?…Jesus Christ is the omniscient, omnipotent Passover Lamb. Jesus is the key to understand the Bible. And what’s the response to code-breaking? The angels, elders, and entire universe break into song! I’d like to teach the world to sing will happen, whether in operatic or folk style.

So what is God saying to us? Since the response to God’s unscrambled message of salvation is the universal song sung by Black gospel singers, Latino salsa singers, banjo pickers, and mezzo-sopranos, we can enjoy our own song, but learn another’s song.
Whether that be Hallelujah…! Or, Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition… Whether that be Holy, Holy, Holy, or You are holy…You are holy… You are mighty…

Enjoying our own song is easy…because we enjoy it. Learning others song is harder because…its not ours. Yet Worldwide Communion Sunday makes it important to learn others’ song because we’ll sing it with them in heaven. God created song, but humanity created a variety of songs. And God welcomes everyone’s song into heaven.

I think I was made more for half-noted hymns than 1/16th noted rock songs. I remember singing a popular duet in high school from the Top 40. The girl had no problem singing Kiki Dee’s Don’t go breaking my heart. I would often be a half beat off with Elton’s I couldn’t if I tried. Try as we might, I couldn’t get the beat, so we stopped trying.

And yet Luke Powery, Princeton Seminary’s Preaching professor, writes about the soul of my least favorite music—hip hop. As long as I’m here we won’t be spittin’ hip-hop in services. Atleast I won’t be spittin’ them. Luke’s mother has endured back pain for years. Yet he noticed when their black church’s drums began to talk, his mother’s feet and body began to walk. The back pain was still present, but the beat made it more bearable. He writes, “the beats minister to her pain, allowing praise to happen.” We may not learn hip-hop on World Communion Sunday, but we can learn to appreciate the world’s song.

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