Various Voices Worship 2018 in Munich powered by Ökumenischer CSD-Gottesdienst München

"Sing to the Holy One a new song" (Psalm 98,1)

Gottesdienst zum Chor Festival "Various Voices 2018" in München
Worship for the choir festival "Various Voices 2018" in Munich



The Scripture text for this sermon is from Psalm 98:1

Oh sing to the Holy One a new song, for he has done marvelous things.
His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for us.

The Psalm continues:
Shout with joy, all you people
Sing to the Holy One with the harp and the voice of song.
With trumpets and the sound of horn,
Shout and sing with joy before the Holy One.

Various Voices Sermon

By the Rev. Steven R. Smith
Rector, Anglican/Episcopal Church of the Ascension
Munich, Germany

Sing to the Holy One a New Song
for the Holy One has done marvelous things.
The Holy One has done marvelous things,
and the Holy One continues to do a marvelous thing through you,
you who are gathered in Munich for the Various Voices celebration.
The Holy One does marvelous things through you,
not just here, this weekend in Munich,
but in the lives and witness you make every day of your lives.

It gives me great joy to see you here in Munich. Welcome to Munich
You have come to our city, to share your voices, your talents, your lives. You have inspired me with the stories you have told, you have blessed me through the incredible testimony you have shared about what it means to live just as you are, just as God created you to be.
For you are made in God’s image, perfect in every way.

You, me, we are truly various voices.
Yet are united in our diversity in this - we come together this morning to celebrate our lives and the love that the Holy One has shown us. To express our gratitude to God for the marvelous things that we experience in our lives. To give the Holy One thanks for creating us just the way we are - Straight, gay, lesbian, bi, trans-gender.

This morning we lift our voices – our various voices – To sing to the Holy One this song of praise and gratitude.

But our song is, unlike the Psalmist’s, not a new song. We have been around, singing our song to the Holy One, for centuries and longer.
It is not a new song,
it is the eternal song.
It is the song OF LOVE that we faithful have sung for a long, long time.

The road has not been easy for many of us here, For most of us here. There is a film playing at this festival titled “Who Will Love Me Now?” How many of you seen it? I have not seen the film, but I was intrigued with the title, “Who Will Love Me Now?” The synopsis says that it is the story of a Jewish Israeli gay man who loses his self-identity and family and ethnic and national identity when he comes out, and his journey back to himself, his family, ethnicity and nationality.

“Who will love me now?”
A question each of us has asked at least once in our lives. The question is ironic to revisit here in Munich, a city central to the rise of National Socialism. For here in Munich, as well in other German cities, during the time of National Socialism, people like us were arrested, sent to camps, forced to wear a Pink Triangle, executed only, only because of who we are.

In Germany we now live with much greater freedom to be whom God has created us to be. Many of us now live in nations with more freedom to be who God has created us to be. But we must remember that all cannot praise God in openness. Even here in Europe, Europe, a place that claims to be enlightened, free, liberal. Government, society, and yes – the church, tell many in Europe and so many nations in the world that we are peculiar, not “normal”, we are to be ostracized and condemned and punished. We are a threat to society, stability, the good order in the governance of things.

During these days of Various Voices I am hosting at my flat two men from an Eastern European country, members of a choir here in Munich to sing. During one of our conversations at my flat one of the men mentioned how shocked he was to see two men holding hands on a public street in Munich. He said “I could never do that in my city.
I would be too scared. I could get hurt.”

Like this young man, many of our brothers and sisters, whether Christian or of other faith traditions, are unable to publicly sing to the Holy One any kind of song of theirselves, they can only sing to the Holy One quietly, in the stillness of their hearts. And so, in the Holy One’s name we must labor to free our brothers and sisters from the laws and oppressions, the societal and cultural norms that make them hesitant, even scared, to sing a song of self to the Holy One.

It is God’s desire that all God’s children, all our brothers and sisters, should be free to be who God created us to be.

People often ask me, “what is God, who is God, where is God?” My answer is God is everywhere, in the cosmos, surrounding you and me and all that is. And God is within us, giving us all that we need to live fully flourishing lives.

The church has not always taught this, and for this the church must be condemned and corrected. And you are witnesses to the reality that the church is being righted, the church is being made a holy place for all of the Holy One’s holy people.

“Who will love me now?” You, in your lives and your faith, give full-throated answer to the question. “Who will love me now?” We answer “God.” It is God who loves us now, Always has and always will. The love that God gives is spreading, growing and growing to the ends of the earth. We feel it, we know it. Despite what church and society and perhaps family might have said otherwise, we know that God has created us to live and be in the very personhood in which God has created us.

Various Voices celebrates this.
We celebrate it this weekend.
You are the people of the Holy One,
The people of God,
The people whom God loves in all our diversity,
In all our wonderfulness,
In all our hope,
In all our joy.

So shout with joy all you people! Sing with joy! Lift up your voice, rejoice and sing Sing with the harp, with trumpets and the sound of the horn. Sing with your voices and pianos and strings. Sing with all your gusto and faith and who you are, Knowing that God is love, and that you are bearers of that love.

The Holy One loves you.
The Holy One honors you.
The Holy One calls you to be One with the Holy One,
Just as you are.
Just as the Holy One created you to be.