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  • Writer's pictureVicar Matt Doebler

Matins Devotion: September 6, 2024

In our reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul admonishes the church in Ephesus to live in opposition to the spiritual darkness that surrounds them—the spiritual death that Christ has awakened them from. They are not to be in lockstep with the foolishness of the world but they are to walk wisely. They are not to fill their days with evil and debauchery, but to be continuously being filled with the Holy Spirit. They are not to allow the power of wine to fill their mouths with all kinds of foolish and unbridled talk, but to sing joyfully to one another by means of psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs—filling the air with melodies of thanksgiving and praise that go up to the very Lord who has redeemed them from darkness and filled them with his light.

Have you ever asked yourself, “Why does the church sing?” Why does God give us a whole book in the Old Testament filled with psalms of praise, thanksgiving, prayer, and lament? Why are the Psalms the most frequently quoted book by the New Testament writers? Why does St. Paul both here in Ephesians and again in Colossians so closely link singing the songs of the church to being filled by the Holy Spirit and with the word of Christ?

Well, if we take a peek at the end, we see why. Three times in the book of Revelation we are shown the Church Triumphant in heaven. Those whom Christ has awakened from sleep. Those whom Christ has redeemed from darkness. Those who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. And what are they doing? They are gathered in the presence of God and they are singing. They are singing a new song, saying, “Worthy are you, O Christ…for you were slain and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God and they shall reign on earth.” (Rev. 5:9-10)

You see, this is why the church sings—why we comfort one another with psalms of hope, why we pray through tears songs of lament, and why we lift up to God hymns of thanksgiving and praise. Because in doing so, we are reminded of Christ’s promises. Through them we are filled with the Holy Spirit who reassures our hearts here on earth and fills them with hope and anticipation of that Day. The Day on which Christ will gather his people from the four corners of the earth and give them a new song to sing: a song of praise that will last into eternity.

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