For He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why He is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, "I will tell of Your Name to My brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise." Hebrews 2:11-12
Most Lutherans love to sing. Get a bunch of us together, and before long someone says, "Let's sing!" And what do we sing? We sing old, beloved hymns everybody knows so well.
At least that's the theory.
Sadly, not all old hymns are well-known or loved. At my first parish in South Dakota, I picked hymns I thought were known and loved by everyone. My first Sunday the organist played the hymns I had selected. I sang with gusto ... and I also sang a solo. As people left church, some of them asked, "Reverend, where did you get that hymn?"
At my Minnesota church, they said, "Ver ditcha git dot hymn?" In Texas they wanted to know, "Pastor, where'd y'all get that hymn from?" The hardest comment came from my organist who said, "Reverend, I used to pray for a pastor who would pick different hymns. From now on, I'm watching what I pray for."
Indeed, all the Lord's people, filled with the joy Jesus gives through His life, death and resurrection, love to sing His praises. But can I tell you nobody sings the Savior's praises more purely, and sincerely, and with greater enthusiasm than those who are suffering for the Savior.
Really. It's true. Today I'm talking about those who are persecuted by government, friends, family and neighbors because Jesus Christ is their Lord.
Today this devotion speaks about those who are the living and dying witnesses to the truth of Jesus' prophetic words: "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me" (Matthew 5:11).
Not so long ago the news carried the story of six Christian martyrs who, in an Islamic country, were tied and then murdered. They were shot at point blank range. But there's one more thing -- one thing many of the reporters left out -- the mouths of those who were assassinated had been taped shut.
No one, except their butchers know why this was done. But I know Christians, and I can only believe those brothers and sisters, facing death, sang their heart's song and shared the Savior. Their murderers would have been afraid to hear that song and thus the tape.
All of this takes me to the point of this devotion.
It is quite possible that tomorrow your church will be singing some hymns you don't know very well. You may sit in the pews and think to yourself -- I wonder where the preacher dug up that tune? Then, having wondered, I encourage you to go forward and sing with gusto. Listen to the organist, the pianist, and then jump in.
Sing your praises of the Redeemer. Give thanks He has saved you from sin, death and the devil. Give thanks this Sunday you are not living in a land of persecution. Give thanks and let the folks who aren't at worship know whose side you are on.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, grant that I might sing the praises of my Savior whose life was sacrificed so I might be moved from darkness into Your marvelous light. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries