Dear God, as I continue this series of songs I would want played at my funeral, I’m up to the processional. I must admit that I’m the least confident in this one. I picked it purely on an experience I had at Howard Butt, Jr’s funeral. They played this as the processional with a brass quintet and I was so moved! The power and triumphant feeling brought about by those first notes being blasted by brass instruments was overwhelming. You always hear about people who say they want their funeral to be a “celebration.” Well, it’s hard to not feel like it was a celebration when you involve a brass quintet.
It was the first words of the song that lent itself to the emotion for me: “A mighty fortress is our God.” Yes, you are might! You are amazing! You are our redeemer! You are our fortress! Death cannot contain you, and, therefore, it cannot contain us because you are our mighty fortress!
Here are the lyrics to the song:
“A Mighty Fortress is Our God” by Martin Luther
A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing:
Our helper He, amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work his woe;
His craft and power are great,
And armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth is his name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,—
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! His doom is sure,—
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers—
No thanks to them—abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also:
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is for ever.
Martin Luther was obviously very in tune with spiritual warfare. It’s pretty impressive to see the amount of thought that went into explaining his view of how you and Satan collide in this world. I wonder what he was experiencing that inspired it.
But the reason I am doing this series is because I’m trying to figure out what these songs are saying that I want to communicate to the audience at my funeral. What is my last message to those who knew me? In this song’s case, I think it is that I want there to be great confidence for everyone there, from the beginning, that the victory is won. This might be a time of earthly loss, for which some of them might actually be sad, but this is not even a battle lost. Nothing has changed in the divine spiritual order. You are God and our enemy, Satan, cannot overcome you.
Father, help me to live that message while I am alive. I am preaching again this week, and the sermon I’m praying through is starting to gel. It’s about why we put our faith in you and why we encourage others to do the same. The beginning of it is, you are our mighty fortress and you took the time to make a way for us to experience that grace and relationship with you. Thank you.
In Jesus’ name I pray,