This Sunday, I didn’t have an opportunity to preach in my “normal context”. I was in the church choir, which was a treat! If you’ve never seen CCC’s choir in action, it’s a pretty neat worship experience. (Here’s a link to catch a short video clip of it!)

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t preach a message. In fact, each of the 5 songs our choir lifted to Heaven was a “sermonette”, if you listened carefully. They all pointed to Holy Week, as it was Palm Sunday.

“I Am Free” and “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing”. When Jesus walked into Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday, His countrymen had already invested several years of prayer for a Deliverer to free the Jews from Roman oppression. Jesus would set them free all right. Not from Roman rule, but from an oppressor who had imprisoned humanity since the Garden. True freedom from sin and death is found in Christ, no matter which earthly king has you in shackles. A great stanza from the old hymn speaks clearly to this truth:

He breaks the power of cancell’d sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood avail’d for me.

“In Christ Alone.” The choir also sang this song this past Friday at a Celebration Service for a dear saint who went home to be with Jesus, Janel Saunders. It is a clear message of confidence as we approach our physical death. We who are in Christ Jesus have absolutely nothing to fear. What must it be like for an unsaved soul to breathe his or her last few breaths? Absolutely horrifying. What is it like for the new creation? Absolutely freeing.

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From a life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny

No power of hell, no scheme of man
Could ever pluck me from His hand
‘Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I stand

“I Will Rise.” This was another song we sang at both the worship service as well as Janel’s Celebration Service. The part of the song that struck me was this:

There’s a day that’s drawing near 
When this darkness breaks to light 
And the shadows disappear 
And my faith shall be my eyes 

I usually get this backwards. I imagine death as a darkening moment for the soul, where reality disappears. But the opposite is true. Death immediately opens our eyes to the full reality that we see dimly. As it says in 1 Corinthians 13:12, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” Whatever side of the cross you’re on, you will have everything made completely clear when you die: you will be clearly united with God through His Son’s sacrificial atonement, or clearly condemned by God’s judgment because of a faithless, works-based attempt at salvation.

“He Reigns.” Whatever side of the cross you are on, you will one day sing this song (or something to the effect). Each one of us will confess that Jesus reigns. Romans 14:11 says, “It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.” Will you confess this freely or will you be forced to confess this before your impending judgment? Satan himself has known since the first Easter that he has been defeated. Even he will confess that Jesus is Lord, even though he hates the truth of it. It’s as my favorite line in this song states:

And all the powers of darkness
Tremble at what they’ve just heard
‘Cause all the powers of darkness
Can’t drown out a single word

Music can sometimes be the most encouraging, most challenging, most inspiring, and most convicting medium for a message to be communicated. The next time you hear a sermon with instruments accompanying it, allow your soul to take good notes.

And yes, the pun was intended!