NOTE: This sermon was inspired by, and borrows extensively from, a sermon preached by the Rev´d Eugene A. Gardner at Zion Ev. Lutheran Church in Williamsport, Maryland, December 1977, entitled, “The Trumpet None Can Silence or Mistake.’ That sermon is based upon the great Franzmann hymn, “O Kingly Love, that Faithfully.’ The sermon and hymn both appear in “Come to the Feast: The Origninal and Translated Hymns of Martin H. Franzmann’ introduced and edited by Robin A. Leaver, published by Morning Star Music Publishers in St. Louis, 1994. It was first preached at Grace in Fairgrove, Michigan at Easter in 1999. I’ve gotten quite a bit of mileage out of it in these past six years. There are some changes from previous versions but it is essentially the same sermon. This is the first time I’ve preached it at Redeemer. I suspect it won’t be the last.
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
From chaos to order. From cacophony to symphony. In the beginning, in perfect love, the Holy Trinity called forth creation out of nothing. The Spirit hovered. The Father spoke. And His Voice was the Word which would become Flesh. The Trumpet sounded forth and creation became. And it was good. All creation joined the song of God´s love and echoed back His grace and peace in perfect harmony. Rock and fur, leaf and feather, Adam and Eve, all things were good, and all things sang God´s praise.
But then, in the garden, came a cracking, rasping voice, in a minor key, in evil monotone, with nearly perfect tenor, with alluring tones, it sang: “God is not true.’ And Adam and Eve dropped the instruments of love and took up the chorus, “God is not true.’ Chaos returned for the sake of pride. That first and feeble failure, Adam inflicted all the universe with the curse. And the din that ensued was so great it nearly drowned out the adoration, by creation, of Her God. Creation fell back to strident cacophony and death was born.
But that most Holy Trinity would not let Satan win. He raised the creative Trumpet to His lips, again. The Trumpet Promise blasted forth: “I will send My Son. He will be Enmity between Satan and Eve. He will restore.’ And that simple shepherd, on Chaldea´s dusty plain, Father Abraham heard the call. And he picked up the song of God´s love and sang. And once again creation praised Her God. From him issued forth a mighty people, a mighty chorus praising God´s love and mercy and peace. Sing Jacob, sing Moses, sing David too. Sing Rahab, Tamar, and Bathsheba. Sing Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, and Malachi. Sing the song the Trumpet played, the promise of God´s Redeemer yet to come, of living forgiveness not yet born.
But the false note was still there. The rasping monotone in minor key, in nearly perfect tenor, with alluring tones, it had not quit. It still pulled at the hearts of men with false promises and with false threats, but like the sirens of Greek Mythology, with deadly seduction nonetheless. And so strong it played at times it nearly drowned out the adoration, by creation, of her God.
And so that most Holy Trinity, who would not let Satan win, raised the creative Trumpet of His love to His lips again. And in Nazareth, the royal peasant girl of David´s line, the Virgin pure, heard the song from Gabriel´s mouth. And near Bethlehem, she sang along: “My soul doth magnify the Lord!’ And soon scared shepherds, an angelic chorus, and wise men from the East joined in too, and took up the song that none could deny: “Glory be to God on high!’ Sing Simeon, sing Anna, sing John on Jordan´s bank. Creation praised her God, sung adoration for the goodness of Him who is, who was, who ever shall be, who gives, who loves, who keeps His promises.
But still, the evil serpent´s voice was there, in rasping monotone, with ever-alluring, deadly seduction it sang. And once again the hearts of men were bound to him in sin. And to “God is not true,’ they added that hateful line “Crucify Him!’ And so loud, in one voice they cried, united in their hatred and greed, and it nearly drowned out the faithful singers adoring God. The earth quaked. The sun went dark. But! But – the Temple veil was torn in two. The graves were opened and the dead alive. The New Adam, the perfect Adam, who did all that Adam should have done but did not, breathed His last and died, that Adam might enjoy the benefits not only of creation but also of redemption, of restoration, of heaven!
And there, at the foot of the cross, a lone voice rang out which remembered the song of God´s love. Crystal clear the solo rang. It was not the Mary’s. It was not John. It was the centurion. That unlikely Gentile singer praised God at Jesus´ death and sang: “Surely this Man was the Son of God.’ For a fearful Sabbath the faithless and unfaithful disciples failed to rest for anxiety and sorrow. They had thought Him the One. And now they mourned the loss of Him, as though He were dead, as though He had failed and Satan won, as though God were not true.
And so that most Holy Trinity, who would NOT let Satan win, raised the creative Trumpet of His love to His lips, once again! The Trumpet blasted free the sealing stone. It rolled away. The guards were frozen like dead men. And the Mary´s came, with still half-plugged ears and sleepy eyes not knowing what was in store, and along with that Resurrection Trumpet, to them, the angel sang: “He has risen. He is not here.’ And soon the Eleven, at the women´s call, picked up that song and by them thousands were added who once again sang the song of God´s risen Love. Sing James and John. Sing Peter and Andrew. Sing Thomas and Nathaniel, too. Sing Stephen, and from the Road to Damascus all the way to martyrdom in Rome, sing Paul! Sing the story of God´s love that would not let Satan win, sing of the cross and empty tomb! To all creation sound the Trumpet and let them know that God has won, that death is swallowed up in death and the Satan is cast down. Let them know that death has no sting and the grave now no victory. Death is dead. Life lives!
And so that song went forth from those Eleven to the thousands on Pentecost, to a multitude that today no one, save God, can number. And the Promise to Father Abraham is fulfilled in you. All over the world these Easter weeks God´s people sing: “He is risen. He is risen, indeed. Hallelujah!’
But still, that rasping, defeated voice in evil monotone, it will not quit. It tugs at the hearts of men. It recruits. Men pick up the hateful tones. And here we are, with half-plugged ears and sleepy eyes and the battle close at hand. The enemy´s camp makes such a racket at night, as to nearly drown out our praise, our thanks. We seem so insignificant arrayed against the mighty hosts of Hell, as insignificant as one Man weak, bloody, and dying between two thieves with truth called blasphemy nailed above His head.
Truth be told, we, too, have reveled in that drunken hate. We have sat at the enemy´s fire and warmed ourselves by selfish glee. And the doubts arise in our hearts. The Tempter whispers in our ear: “Is it too late? Can I still come Home? Can I be forgiven?’ Yes! Yes! For this He came, for this He died, for this He rose: To love you, to forgive you, to win you, to have you. Because that most Holy Trinity will not let Satan win. He will not!
Steals upon the ear the distant triumph song, and hearts are brave again and arms are strong! The Resurrection Trumpet and its triumphant cry floats to us across the plain. Soon, soon to weary warriors cometh rest! Soon that Trumpet shall sound its last great “Hallelujah’ and the dead will rise, and our bodies will be reunited in their proper place, with our souls, before our Lord in heaven, where we shall sing His praise forevermore, where sin will harass us no more! Jesus Christ glorified will come to judge the quick and the dead, and then that rasping, defeated voice will be silenced once and for all by the Resurrection Trumpet that none can silence or mistake. And the hearts of men will be free as the hearts of men were meant to be!
You who have ears to hear, hear the song. As Abraham´s true children, clinging to the faith that Abraham confessed, and as Our Lord´s own dear brothers, sing along. Let creation yet again sing the praise, the adoration of her God, that most Holy Trinity, who would not let Satan win! Sing Luther, sing Walther, sing Fort Wayne! Sing the song of God´s love. Sing the song of Christ crucified and risen unto all the ends of the earth: He is risen. He is risen, indeed. Hallelujah!
In ‘Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Rev’d David H. Petersen
Redeemer Lutheran Church
Fort Wayne, Indiana