The History of Hymns

July 21st, 2019

Message Title: The History of Hymns
Theme: History is Our Story
Season: Ordinary Time
Color: Green
Main Text: Colossians 1:15-23
Scripture Reading: Amos 8:1-12
RCL Scripture: Amos 8:1-12, Psalm 52, Genesis 18:1-10a, Psalm 15, Colossians 1:15-28, Luke 10:38-42
Focus: After Paul’s greeting, he grounds his letter in the gospel before proceeding into teaching. 
Function: To remember the foundation of our life, death, and redemption are in Christ. 
Other Notes: 50th anniversary of the moon landing

SCRIPTURE READING: Amos 8:1-12 This is what the Lord God showed me: behold, a basket of summer fruit. 2And he said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the Lord said to me, “The end has come upon my people Israel; I will never again pass by them. 3The songs of the temple shall become wailings in that day,” declares the Lord God. “So many dead bodies!” “They are thrown everywhere!” “Silence!” 4Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end, 5saying, “When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances, 6that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat?” 7The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: “Surely I will never forget any of their deeds. 8Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who dwells in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt?” 9“And on that day,” declares the Lord God, “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. 10I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on every waist and baldness on every head; I will make it like the mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day. 11“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. 12They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it.


HISTORY:  Baptist have had creeds or confessions since the beginning. These were simple statements outlining their beliefs. While these simple statements could be tools to find your like-minded Baptists and engage in dialogue or worship, they instead became tools of division. 

*Find a creed to read from book at church*

  1. justyn martyr 165 ad (red book)
  2.  ABC confession of 1905 (green book)

Confessions went from being about the one we worship to declaring who was “in” and who was “out.” They became tools of division but could be restored to their original intent. 

TRANSITION: In our text for today, Paul proceeds after his introduction and prayer of hope, that we talked about last week, with a Confessional Hymn. Not “Confession” as in admitting wrong but a statement of truth or belief. This is not a pointed hymn at the faults of the Colossians but simply a recap of the Gospel message. (PF)

GOD: Join me in turning to COLOSSIANS 1:15-23 as we examine this confession and receive a recap of the gospel message at the same time. 

VS 15-20 Confessional Hymn: 15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

  1. Statements about Jesus: Paul teaches (or reminds) us of some clear statements about Jesus. These beautiful phrases are to paint a picture of our Savior and remind us of who we follow. 
  1. “the image of the invisible God”
    1. Jesus is the image of God – maintaining monotheism – “He is not a copy or likeness of God but the “projection” of God on the canvas of our humanity and the embodiment of the divine in the world of men and women” Martin (PF)
  2.  “16For by him all things were created”
    1. In him [Jesus] all things have been created – making Christ above all other beings celestial and terrestrial. (PF)
  3. 17And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
    1. Focus on the supremacy of Christ before and above all other cosmic entities. (PF)
  4.  “through him to reconcile to himself all things”

VS 21-23 Unpacking hymn: 21And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

  1. “alienated and hostile in mind”
  2. “order to present you holy and blameless”
  3. 23if indeed you continue in the faith,”
  4. “not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard”
  5. Notes:
    1. Good News – not condemnation, “who were once estranged and hostile…doing evil deeds” he is not singling people out or condemning them all, but rather bringing good to new to all which is reconciliation. (PF)
    2. Saved from estrangement, hostility and evil deeds (PF)
    3. Saved for holy and blameless life before and with God (PF)


  1. Back to intro about creeds being a source of division: There is a foundational difference in hearing Paul’s words and the implications it has on our lives: 
    1. Low View of Humanity: Good thing we’ve got Jesus because humanity is garbage
      1. Humans have always been garbage. Jesus rescues us from our garbage state and that is how we know God is good. 
    2. High View of Humanity: Good thing we’ve got Jesus to help restore humanity to the way God intended us to be
      1. God created humans and said they were good. God gave humans responsibility on this earth. God built us good because he is good. 
  2. This hymn tells the story of Christ, it tells us history but also points to our future. 
    1. Christ is doing a reconciling work. Like restoring a beautiful 57 chevy to its original state. The chevy wasn’t built with rust on the metal and holes in the leather. Neither were humans made garbage, God built us in his image and will restore us to that image again. 
    2. “No part of human existence remains untouched by the loving and liberating rule of Jesus.” (TBP)
  3. Christ is the glue that unites creation. Christ is reconciling all of creation. The truth about Christ and about humanity impacts the way i do ministry. 
    1. The church isn’t just of people I agree with but all who call on the name of Jesus. 
    2. Beer & Hymns: it’s about Jesus’ work of reconciliation. It’s about worship being focused on Jesus and not on myself. It’s not about divisive creeds but about a confession of who Christ is. 

CONCLUSION: A foundation grounded in Christ helps us to know the difference between truth and destruction. This foundation sets a path for ministry in our every day lives. 

  1. When we are familiar with the genuine article we won’t be fooled by a fraud. Fraud specialists know the real $, they don’t study the fake… there are too many fakes. They study the real deal and that makes the fakes much easier to discover. 
  2. Next week we will hear from Paul about the different cultures in Colossae and the distractions the church faced. This grounding in Christ is to be the ruler in which the church should measure all other teachings. 

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