For some of you the start of school may still be a week or more off, but for many of you school starts in two days. Doesn’t that just make you want to sing? But what kind of songs does it make you want to sing? … “I am so happy that school is starting because I just love it!” Or “I am so sad that school is starting because it seems like summer just started!” Or “I am so depressed that school is starting because I just hate to see my kids leave the house.” Or “I am so relieved that school is starting because now I can get more work done around the house.” Happy songs, sad songs, songs of depression, songs of relief. It kind of sounds like the Christian life, doesn’t it? And it really is the Christian life, when you think about it. So, whether the beginning of the school year affects you directly or not, let’s use today’s words from the apostle Paul to make this year another year of singing for every single one of us – another year of singing which follows our Lord’s encouragement in verse 19: “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.”
If you like to sing or at least listen to music, chances are that many of you buy music. How do you buy your songs? Old albums, CDs that are still available, the Apple iTunes Store, Amazon MP3, eMusic.com? There are many ways to buy the songs we like to hear and sing. God wants us to buy music, too – the music of our day by day life with Jesus. In fact, in verse 16 of our lesson, right before Paul reminds us that the days are evil, our Lord tells us to “make the most of every opportunity.” Literally those words “make the most of every opportunity” could be translated, “Buy – or purchase — the time.” In other words, the time we have in life is something God wants us to invest in. The time of our lives – whether it is this next year or this present month or this coming week or this very day itself – this time is so precious and so important that God wants us to buy it, to purchase it, to make it our own, to make the most of every opportunity God gives us to serve him. And the way we invest ourselves in the time of our lives the way God wants us to invest ourselves in the time of our lives is what he tells us in verses 17-18 when he says this: “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirt.”
The abuse of alcohol is one of the many things which can be misused that leads to “debauchery.” Debauchery is a word that refers to an empty life away from God, where everything about life just seems so useless and everything about how a person got to that point just seems so foolish. That’s why God here tells us not to be “foolish” – don’t let your singing be foolish singing. That word foolish has the thought of someone being away from their mind, away from their senses – very much like the lost son, if you remember that parable that Jesus told about the son who took his father’s inheritance and squandered it in ways of debauchery, until the Bible says he finally came back to his senses — until he finally came back to his right spiritual mind by realizing how totally foolish he had been. That is the warning all of us need every day of these evil days, because we all know all too well that while we want this year to be another year of singing, it is also going to be another year of sinning. Whether we get filled with too much wine or too much greed or too much worry or too much complaining or too much of ourselves in pride and arrogance, we will every day prove how true it is that the days are evil – and that’s not even mentioning the evil that the sins of others cause for us in our lives. This day by day life is not an easy life. That we know.
What we can also therefore know is that there can be no doubt from God’s way of looking at things that the best way to buy God’s music is to be filled not with those things that take us away from his love, but to filled with those things that lead us to be assured of his love. It leads us to want, as St. Paul encourages us, to be filled with the Spirit. And to be filled with the Spirit simply means to listen to what the Holy Spirit wrote in the Bible. That is how we will be able to “understand what the Lord’s will is.”
Understanding what the Lord’s will is is without question the key to making this year another year of singing, because that is what allows us to do what St. Paul tells us to do in verse 20: “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It all always gets down to our Lord Jesus Christ. Would you agree that Jesus Christ “bought the time” – that Jesus made the most of every opportunity of the time he spent on earth? He invested, of course, not gold or silver, but his holy precious blood. And what he bought with his holy blood was not time for himself. After all, he is eternal, right? What Jesus bought was time for us – eternal time –because what Jesus did was he purchased our souls. We belong to him, and he will never let us go, because there is nothing the devil could ever offer our Savior for our Savior to ever give us back.
So that’s why we don’t want to go back to the foolish things that caused Jesus to come in the first place, and that’s why every day we want to tell God how sorry we are when we still give him second place. Since we know that our Lord Jesus has given everything for us, we want to give thanks to God for everything he gives us in the name of our Lord Jesus. What a privilege everyone of us has – and what a privilege our teachers in our school have – to day by day remind the students in their classrooms of everything Jesus has done to forgive their sinning so they can be singing – singing to God by being careful how we live and singing to God by making the most of every opportunity we have in the few days or years God gives us to help someone, to be kind to someone, to defend someone, to support someone — knowing all so very well the someone we see in the mirror to whom God has done the very same thing in a much more wonderful and dramatic way.
And one way we do that kind of singing is … by singing. We have said so often that one of the special gifts God has given our congregation is the gift of singing and music, a gift that we invest in in our Sunday School and grade school and throughout all the age groups among us. The psalms and hymns and spiritual songs we sing in worship cement the thoughts of God’s Word in our hearts, and they fill those hearts with the joy of artistic expression. But imagine the expression of joy on that last day when we hear the angels start singing the song that we will sing about together in the last stanza of today’s last hymn:
So when’er the signal’s given Us from earth to call away.
Borne on angels’ wings to heaven, Glad the summons to obey,
May we ever, may we ever Reign with Christ in endless day!
That is what the Lord’s ultimate will for all of us is – to live endlessly with Jesus in heaven — and understanding what the Lord’s will for all of us is will let this year for you as students and for you as teachers and for every single one of us here this morning – it will let this year be another year of singing, no matter if or no matter when school starts for you or not. Amen.