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6 Easter Year B                                                                                 5/5/2024

Acts 10:44-48; Psalm 98; 1 John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17

Rev. Mark A. Lafler


Today we have a wonderful and joyous Psalm in our readings.

Psalm 98.

It’s a proclamation of praise and joy.

It is a song of victory.

Three times in the short Psalm we have the word victory.

And all three times describe the victory of God.

In verse two it is written:

…he won for himself the victory.

In verse three:

The Lord has made known his victory

And in verse four:

…all the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

The first part of the psalm is all about the victory that God has provided for his people.


The second part invites the whole earth…

All the people of the world…

With a proclamation to:

Shout with joy to the Lord, all you lands;

lift up your voice, rejoice, and sing.

The invitation is for all the nations of the world to celebrate the good victory of God.

A celebration defined with harp and the voice of song

With trumpets and the sound of the horn.

The image is one of triumphant celebratory victory.

With lots of commotion, noise, and singing.


In the third part of the psalm, the psalmist invites all of God’s creation…

Including nature…

To declare the praises of God.

The psalmist writes:

Let the sea make a noise and all that is in it,

the lands and those who dwell therein.

Let the rivers clap their hands,

and let the hills ring out with joy before the Lord.


Finally, the psalm points to the justice of God.

God’s judgment will be defined by righteousness and equity.


The whole psalm is celebratory…

With notes of acclamation and justice.

With loud songs declaring the victory of God.

The psalm really is an acclamation of praise and a declaration of triumph.

Scholar Tremper Longman writes:

In its original context, the psalm would have been sung after God’s people had won a battle against their enemies.[1]


Though, the psalm (itself) does not mention any enemies…

The focus is on God’s victory…

The enemies have dropped out of the picture.[2]

The psalm celebrates God’s salvation…

And here it is a military one.[3]


This psalm fits this season of the church as we are in a time of victory.

Victory over what (you ask)?

Victory over sin and death.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower said:

There are no victories at discount prices.

And the same is true here…

Because of the suffering of Jesus and his death on the cross…

We have victory over sin and death.

Again, scholar Tremper Longman writes:

In the New Testament, Jesus is our Warrior,

but he fights against the spiritual powers and authorities,

and not against “flesh and blood.”

[As Christians we may] sing this song of praise to Jesus…

who has won… spiritual salvation. 

Jesus is our Victor, our King, and also the coming Judge who will restore all of creation to its original harmony.[4]


We sing this ancient military victory psalm in declaration of Jesus victory on the cross.

It is an invitation for all people to gather in praise to King Jesus.

It is an invitation for the whole earth (rivers, hills, the seas) to celebrate the victory of God.

The redemption of all things is possible because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and his victorious resurrection.


Today is the sixth Sunday in Eastertide.

Eastertide is the season of victory.

Eastertide follows Holy Week where Jesus conquers sin and death through his redeeming death and resurrection…

through the cross and the empty grave.

Eastertide is a 50-day celebration that Jesus has risen from the dead.

He is victorious.


As the popular hymn during Eastertide proclaims:

Alleluia! Sing to Jesus! His the scepter, his the throne;

Alleluia! His the triumph, his the victory alone;

Hark! The songs of peaceful Zion thunder like a mighty flood;

Jesus out of every nation hath redeemed us by his blood.

(Hymn 460, v. 1)


Eastertide is the only season in the church year where we belt out chants of Alleluia!

Often not once, not twice, but three times!



The only other place in our liturgy where we declare three alleluias is in our burial liturgy…

Where the celebrant says during The Commendation:

All of us go down to the dust;

Yet even at the grave we make our song:

Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!

(BCP, 499)

So that even at the grave we declare and proclaim God’s victory over sin and death.

The battle has been won.

Jesus is victorious even in death.

Because for believers in Jesus Christ as our Book of Common Prayer says:

For to your faithful people, O Lord, life is changed, not ended…

(BCP, 382)


Eastertide is a season of hope.

It is a season of joy.

It is a season of victory.

Where we celebrate the goodness

And mercy

And the grace of our Lord

Who has won the battle…

Who is victorious.

And we, his people, walk in the confidence of that victory…

As we look to our future resurrection with Christ Jesus eternal…


We are to walk in the confidence of that victory in the here and now.

In our daily life.

And there, staring right at us, is where the tension is.

We walk in the midst of an unsteady and confusing world.

We are not strangers to suffering…

In our own bodies…

With the ones we love…

With what hear and see in the news.

Pain is all around…

Struggles, addictions, and hardships are with us.

The tension of the victory of God and the reality of the pain in this world seem to be at odds.


Our own bishop, Justin Holcomb shares:

We know all too well that life is filled with suffering.

Some of us feel paralyzing guilt and condemnation because of the sins we’ve committed.

Some of us feel overwhelming shame because of the sins committed against us.

Some of us feel despair because of the impulses and addictions that seem to have power over us.

Some of us are shrouded in the darkness of depression.

Some of us are suffocated by grief because death has taken a child, a spouse, a parent or a friend.

And the victory of God does not smother the reality of this pain.

We are not to pretend that this darkness is not there.

We are not to live in a make-believe world with rose colored glasses.

We live in this world, knowing that Jesus suffered too and he rose from the grave.


Bishop Holcomb writes:

Rather than minimize darkness, despair and death, Jesus experiences it and comforts us in it right now.

The one who stepped out of the grave on Easter morning has the last word.

We’re comforted knowing that Jesus Christ, God himself, knows what it’s like to suffer,

and that his Resurrection is a guarantee of our future resurrection to eternal life.

Because Jesus conquered death,

we know that darkness is not the end of the story or the last word on us. The risen Christ says the last word on us is “hope.”


So, although we live in the tension of God’s victory and the pain of a world that is waiting for the return of the king.

We do live as people of hope.

A real hope.

A hope that is victoriously found in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

We see this victory in baptism.

When children, youth, and adults are marked as Christ’s own forever.

(Trinity Viel at 10:00 am)


We see this victory when we eat the bread and drink the wine…

Declaring the triumph of Jesus until he comes again.


We see this victory when the people of God walk in the power of the Holy Spirit…

Overcoming sinful desires…

Defeating addictions…

Challenging the abusers of our world…

Lifting up those that are suffering and downcast…

Pushing back against generational and cultural perversions…

Comforting those who mourn…

And we see this hope break through when a sinner comes to repentance and belief in Jesus Christ.


So, as we look once again at Psalm 98.

Let us remember God’s salvation…

God’s victory…

God’s justice…

Let Psalm 98 ring from the roof tops.

Let this Psalm get into our blood stream.

God’s victory has come.


I want to close today with another reading from Psalm 98…

This time from The Message paraphrase…

Listen once again:


Sing to God a brand-new song.

He’s made a world of wonders!

He rolled up his sleeves,

He set things right.

God made history with salvation,

He showed the world what he could do.

He remembered to love us, a bonus

To his dear family, Israel—[unrelenting] love.

The whole earth comes to attention.

Look—God’s work of salvation!

Shout your praises to God, everybody!

Let loose and sing! Strike up the band!

Round up an orchestra to play for God,

Add on a hundred-voice choir.

Feature trumpets and big trombones,

Fill the air with praises to King God.

Let the sea and its fish give a round of applause,

With everything living on earth joining in.

Let ocean breakers call out, “Encore!”

And mountains harmonize the finale—

A tribute to God when he comes,

When he comes to set the earth right.

He’ll straighten out the whole world,

He’ll put the world right, and everyone in it.





[1] Tremper Longman, Psalms, TOTC (Downers Grove: IVP, 2014), 345.

[2] James L. Mays, Psalms, Interpretation (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1994), 313.

[3] Longman, 345.

[4] Longman, 346.