Summary: A sermon that can be used during black history month. It talks about trusting God’s power even when you don’t see it.
My father was a district leader of the NAACP during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Because of this, he used to tell my brothers and me about the Civil Rights Movement. My father simply called it "the movement." I heard stories about marches, bus trips called freedom rides, and lunch counters. My father would have a smile on his face when he spoke about the accomplishments of the movement.
In addition, my father told us about the meetings. He noted that these meetings were full of songs and preaching. The songs were about courage, standing up against evil, and about God being on the side of humanity struggling for justice. I, I shall not be moved, I, I shall not be moved." Or, â€œThis little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine." Also, Keep Your Eyes on the Prize hold on." they also sang, "I ain’t gonna let nobody turn me round." Finally, "We Shall Overcome."
If one was not aware of the situation one might think that one was listening to a description of a meeting that was celebrating victory. But, surprisingly at the same time that they were singing these songs they were in the midst of very difficult times. I learned about the church bombing that killed those little children. I learned about the assassinations of great leaders of the movement. I learned about government conspiracies to overthrow that same movement that my father spoke so glowingly of. Even my father at times would tell us of his own struggles like having his car window shot out and his life threatened.
Yes, it was a difficult time that called for struggle and work against a system that had been in existence since the beginning of this nation. It was a time when the people of God stood up against powers without even really having the ability to overcome these powers. It was a time when justice was without form and void and darkness was all over the face of the deep.
Our text this evening was crafted during a time like this. Hope could have easily given in to hopelessness. It was a time when the promise of God to come back to the land that God promised them was coming to past. It was a time when all around there was nothing but visual indications of pain and hopelessness.
Our text is simply a song. "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made. And all the host of them by the breath of his mouth." Here were a people in the midst of trouble. They were struggling against an environment that was totally against the promise of God. Certainly it didn’t look as though a powerful creator God would leave the return to their land project half done. Certainly all didn’t look right, but they sang this song in particular, "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made. And all the host of them by the breath of his mouth." The song describes the awesome creative power of God. The song talks about God’s ability to do something with nothing. The song attempts to lets us know that that word has the power to do what it says.
But as I think about this singing and about this song in particular, I begin to wonder if there were some in the audience when this song was sung who didn’t really feel like singing the song. I am not suggesting that those few didn’t believe what the song says, but when we look at the circumstances of a creation gone wrong we have to wonder if some didn’t feel like singing this song of God’s majestic creative power. Certainly there was at least one who didn’t want to sing this song when God’s creative power hasn’t seemed to show up "on time" as the old folks used to say. Certainly there was at least one who was in that movement that my father spoke of who didn’t want to sing their songs. When we today look at the pain and hurt in the world and realize that this is not in line with the hopes and dreams of a God that has the power to set aside all of this with only a word. Certainly somebody doesn’t want to sing that song.
I didn’t want to sing the song
I must confess that sometimes I don’t want to sing that song. Why sing songs about the power of God to overcome any situation when you are in the midst of a situation that God could do something about but doesn’t? How can I sing songs about this power of God when we hear of a diagnoses that causes the doctor to shake her head? Sometimes I don’t want to sing that song. And so even when I come to a song found in our text like this I begin to wonder. How could Israel sing about the total creative power of God while looking at complete destruction? How could our mothers and fathers stand up and sing a song about overcoming when injustice seems to reign?