(I am thinking of sending these out on Saturday afternoon so readers can prepare for the Sunday lessons. Here goes.(
Text: Ole Theodor Moe (1863-1922) Tune: Caroline Volla Sørlie (1869-1953)
Jesus, the only one,
Purest and holy one,
Greatest of names we can ever express.
Filled with bright clarity,
Filled with God’s charity,
Filled with God’s pow’r and the truth we confess.
When troubles come my way,
I’m never cast away
Out of your loving and holy embrace.
When friends abandon me,
Lord, you remember me,
Call me by name and then save me by grace.
Hear as I sing my song,
Lord as you lead me on
Wherever, whenever it serves you best.
Always upholding me,
Teach me, embolden me;
After your will while I’m here as your guest.
Jesus, the only one,
Purest and holy one
Give me the holiest and purest of hearts.
Save from hurt and harm
Free me from all alarm,
Take me at last where you shine like the stars.
tr. Gracia Grindal
More ink has been spilled on the parable of the Unjust Steward than almost any other. What on earth does Jesus mean? Using a dishonest man and his transactions as a model for Christians? How does that compute?
We probably have to go to the end of the lesson. About two masters. About two goals. While the dishonest steward is very shrewd about providing for his own retirement, and is also smart enough to build up social capital with those whose debt he forgives, his social capital will not save him. Worldly goods will maybe give him a secure old age, but ultimately, one cannot invest in heavenly things with earthly lucre. While one should take care for one’s earthly future, one must also take care of one’s heavenly treasures with more seriousness.
This summer I taught a course on revivals at Mt. Carmel Bible camp and for the final session investigated the now almost unknown leader of the Oxford Group, Frank Buchman (1878-1961). His movement swept the world in the 1930-1950s and changed many people’s lives. People in Norway, Denmark and Sweden said after the war that his preaching gave them the courage to resist the Nazis.
A Lutheran pastor in Pennsylvania, Buchman
had gotten into an argument with the board of the school he ran about his use of their funds. It angered him so much that he resigned and left for England where he attended a conference in the Lake District. He stopped by a chapel and heard a woman preaching on Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross. She pictured “the nails in the palms of his hands, the spear in his side, and the infinite suffering in his face. I knew I had wounded him, that there was great distance between myself and Him, and I knew it was the sin of nursing my ill will.” He realized that he was the center of his life, not the crucified Christ. He prayed God wouldd change and free him. A power swept through him that utterly transformed him. He went for a hike and met a young man whom he told about his experience. The young man also had such an encumbrance and confessed it. He became free, also. From there, Buchman brought his testimony to the rest of the world. Thousands upon thousands responded to his message and were changed.
Buchman’s movement swept the world. He changed the name of it in 1938 to Moral Rearmament. The movement still exists in a new form, now as an interfaith group, and is no longer centered on Jesus, regrettably. But while he was in charge, it was Jesus who was at the center of his preaching. And the main point of everything he preached was to give oneself absolutely to the Lord Jesus. One cannot serve two masters. "Jesus, the only one, Jesus the holy one, greatest of names we can ever express." That was the message that Buchman preached.
HYMN INFO The hymn for today is a classic from Norway and popular in the Nordic countries. Moe, born in Åmot, Norway, studied theology, and became a pastor and teacher. He served at the Diakoness home in Oslo, and as pastor in Førde, and the Innermission and Harbor mission in Oslo. It is thought he based this hymn, which he wrote in 1904 while listening to a sermon in Bogstadveien chapel, on a Mary hymn. He became a hymnologist and wrote about hymnody as well as writing his own poems. The composer sang in the choir of Our Savior's and Trinity church in Oslo, but very little is known about her except for this tune.
Anders Olsen Steinberg
Iver Kleive and Knut Reiersrud
For those planning for Bible study through the year, you might consider the book Jesus the Harmony. It has a poem for every day of the year and Bible references for each poem that put Jesus in what has been called "the red thread of salvation." Many have been using it for daily devotions; others in group Bible studies.