Posted on June 9th, 2017
2017 Immanuel Lutheran School Baccalaureate Vespers
Pentecost Wednesday +++ June 7, A+D 2017
Wherever you go to school next, you’ll probably find a counselor there. Many high schools have guidance counselors; they may advise you on what classes to take, what colleges to consider, what career paths to pursue.
There are other kinds of counselors. Grief counselors help when someone dies, employment counselors help college students find work, and lawyers are called counselors for the help they give about courts and judges and laws.
A good counselor might tell us what we don’t want to hear. Did I tell you about my advisor in college? I thought I was pretty hot stuff, but after he heard me play the piano the first time, he said in his thick Russian accent, “This is bad.” I didn’t like his counsel – but it was valuable.
The counselors in the Psalm we sang tonight, Psalm 33, are the kinds of counselors that tell kings and rulers what to do. Recently President Trump decided to pull the United States out of a climate accord called the Paris Agreement. Reporters said that the president’s counselors didn’t agree, and were pushing him to do different things.
Life can be like that. We get conflicting advice. But more often, the advice is pretty consistent. The world keeps on telling you to do things for yourself. Follow your passion. Do what feels good. Don’t listen to your parents, they don’t understand you.
It doesn’t happen all at once. You might be at a party, and someone urges you to try something you know is dangerous, or do something you know is wrong. You’re nervous about it, but you want to fit in.
Then a few years later, you’re off to college. Mom isn’t getting you out of bed anymore, Dad isn’t taking you to church – in fact, nobody seems to be watching what you do at all. The counsel all around you is very different from what you had here at Immanuel, or from your parents and pastors. Gradually, the new counsel guides you more and more, and everything you learned at home and church is put away like a nursery rhyme or a child’s cartoon.
So you need to decide now what kind of counsel you’re going to listen to, what kind of counselors will guide you.
Each one of you has received great gifts. Huit, you have a quick wit; Gabriel, you are bold and confident; Josie, you are bright and thorough; Kris, every day you work harder and smile more, the Lord Himself has adopted you and made you His own; Preston, you quietly, honorably, and respectfully do exceptional work; and Justus, you fill every day with joy and encouragement.
And all the gifts you have received can be turned against you by counselors who don’t have your best interests at heart. Tonight’s Psalm tells us there are two different kinds of counselors. They are represented by the counselors who guide earthly rulers, and the counsel that God Himself gives to you.
The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the LORD stands forever; the plans of his heart to all generations. (Ps. 33.10f).
The counsel of the nations—all the counsel the world will give you—is going to come to nothing. God’s counsel is what lasts, even if it means being different or weird or out of step with everyone else.
“Sing to him a new song,” God’s Word tells you. This has nothing to do with traditional music versus modern music. The old song is the world’s song of hedonism, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” – and notice that the world’s song always ends in death. The songs of human culture always end up being a funeral dirge.
The new song has its lyrics recorded in the Book of Revelation, “And they sang a new song”—a song to the Lamb, Jesus, singing, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God… Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, [who lives] forever and ever!”
That’s your song, Huit, and Gabriel, and Josie, and Kris, and Preston, and Justus. Wherever you go, you don’t have to sing the world’s song. You are singers of a different song, the Lord’s Song. Don’t ever graduate from that. +INJ+