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HYMN 20 O Living Bread from Heaven Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
Text: Johann von Rist (1607-1667) Tune: Samuel Wesley (1766-1837) 1 O living bread from heaven,
How you have fed your guest!
The gifts you now have given
Have filled my heart with rest.
O wondrous food of blessing,
O cup that heals our woes,
My heart, this gift possessing,
In thankful song o'erflows! 2 My Lord, you here have led me
Within your holiest place,
And here yourself have fed me
With treasures of your grace;
And you have freely given
What earth could never buy,
The bread of life from heaven,
That now I shall not die. 3 You gave me all I wanted,
That food can death destroy;
And you have freely granted
The cup of endless joy.
Ah, Lord, I do not merit
The favor you have shown,
And all my soul and spirit
Bow down before your throne. 4 Lord, grant me that, thus strengthened
With heav'nly food, while here
My course on earth is lengthened,
To serve you, Lord most dear.
And when you call my spirit
To leave this world below,
I enter, through your merit,
Where joys unmingled flow.
Tr. Catherine Winkworth REFLECTIONS
The I AM words from Jesus are sometimes missed for what they signify and what his audience knew immediately: He was saying that he was the same God as Moses met while kneeling before the burning bush. When he asked the voice he heard from the fire who he was, or his name, he heard I AM—that I AM. Or I will be what I will be. There was no image here, only a voice. And the voice said that he was also the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It always intrigues me that our God did not give us a picture or image to worship, but a verb, an action, a moving power that cannot be stopped in time to have a picture taken. Thus the strong prohibition of the Jewish faith not to picture God or make any images. In fact, that is the Second Commandment for the Reformed churches. Thou shalt make no graven images. Luther chose not to make it the second commandment, thinking it was in the first great one, You shall no other Gods before me. God chooses to be present in our speech, in our voices, when we speak his word. As close as our mouths, Deuteronomy 30:14 says, "the Word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart." We do not see him with our eyes, but we hear the Shepherd’s voice. Now of course Christians had a problem with this. Could they make pictures of Jesus, their God? That was a pressing question for some time, given their Jewish heritage. But Jesus came in the flesh and was present among us in visible ways, even if very few perceived he was God in person, in the flesh.Soon pictures of him and his mother became central themes for artists, and the most frequent subjects of art in Christendom. When Jesus says I AM The Bread of Life to the multitudes, whom he has fed with baskets of bread he miraculously provided, those who knew got it. Some were outraged at what they thought of as blasphemy. Others understood it, like the disciples in the boat from last week’s lesson, and were terrified. They all knew the story of God sending manna from heaven and now have to deal with Jesus as the living bread from heaven. That is more than manna. Painters who paint Christ have something of a problem. While they can depict a person, even a holy one, is there a way to signal that Jesus is divine? Many have tried and some have been successful, but theologians have argued that God is hidden in Jesus. To see him on the cross dying is aweful in the old sense of that word. But to see God in Jesus' dying body is a bit more difficult. It takes faith. Jesus came into the world so we could know God. And live as one of us. This is the mystery of the Incarnation: our creator came to experience our life as we lived it, to be our friend. It leaves me awed, baffled and grateful. Our God is an awesome God! As the popular contemporary Christian song has it. While there may be better ways to say it, and there are thousands of great pieces of music that do—think Bach, Handel, Ralph Vaughan Williams, etc.—it is good to hear the contemporary song sung by many who many not warm up to the classics, but still need to testify to this truth. The Rist hymn is filled with awe that our Lord Jesus gives himself as living bread at the altar. It is a glory to know it and receive him in his word daily and in church from the sermon and in the bread offered at his table. See how much God has done to be with us, near us, and saving us. An awesome thing! "With thanks our hearts overflow!" HYMN INFO Johann von Rist was a contemporary of Paul Gerhardt and suffered many of the same sorrows as he during the Thirty Years War. Born in Ottensen, near Hamburg, he was dedicated for ministry from his youth. He was a fine student and well regarded as a teacher in the area. He attended Rostock University where the Thirty Years Wars were somewhat distant, but he suffered from the economic difficulties of the time in addition to becoming ill with the local plague. He wrote over 600 hymns, most of which were intended for private meditation, but many have become classics in Lutheran hymnals. He returned to pastor in the Hamburg area. Rist is one of the best of Lutheran hymn writers for the family altar. This was first intended to be sung at home as one prepared to receive communion. Because composers were looking for new texts all the time, his texts became popular with the congregations in the area. This hymn appeared in 1654. It had eight stanzas of eight lines. The hymn had the title "A devotional hymn, which may be sung when the people are about to take their place at the Holy Communion of the Lord." The tune of course is easily recognized as Aurelia, the tune for “The Church’s One Foundation” by Samuel Sebastian Wesley. There are other tunes for it. While it has been a durable hymn in the tradition, it is not in the top 100. LINKS Rod Smith/Instrumental https://youtu.be/HGxAvn8PMyA Mary Ruth
https://youtu.be/RlFL7AN_ecA Sacred Harp Tune for Rist’s text https://youtu.be/b2Kv3Y40MwA
HYMNS for Week 20 I am the Bread of Life
John 6:24-35 147 He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-147-he-s-got-the-whole-world-in-his-hands 148 Evening and Morning/Den Güldne Sonne https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-148-evening-and-morning 149 Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-149-rejoice-ye-pure-in-heart 150 I Know of a Sleep in Jesus’ Name/Jeg ved meg en søvn I Jesu Nave https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-150-i-know-of-a-sleep-in-jesus-name 151 Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-151-turn-your-eyes-upon-jesus 152 O Jesus, Let my Eyes Be Opened/A Jesus åpne du mit ögon https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-152-o-jesus-let-my-eyes-be-opened 153 Just a little Talk with Jesus https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-153-just-a-little-talk-with-jesus 154 What Joy to Reach the Harbor/Hvor godt der er at lande https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-154-what-joy-to-reach-the-harbor
HYMN OF THE WEEK 19 Gift of Finest Wheat
Jesus feeds the multitudes and calms the seas John 6:1-21 Text: Omar Westendorf (1916-1997) Tune: Robert Kreuz (1922-1996) (For reasons of copyright, I won't put the text here, but you can read it and hear it here) https://youtu.be/FWR1jMRfWdk REFLECTION We can live without many things, but water is necessary. We are hearing now that some Iranians are rebelling because they don’t have enough water. And the Upper Midwest is low on rain which could mean low on food. After water, we need food. We can live much longer without food than without water, but famine, usually caused by lack of water, cannot be endured for long. The Bible is filled with rain and famine stories. Much of the story of Israel has to do with people starving and immigrating to Egypt for food. Two chapters before this, Jesus has promised the Samaritan woman water that will quench her thirst for ever and she wants it. Give me some of that! Now he has been preaching and people have come to receive from him the water and food of life that his words give. But they are also flesh and blood and need food. They probably have brought along their own supplies of water. A concerned Thomas asks the master how on earth Jesus is going to feed the multitudes. They don’t have enough money to buy much. Faithful Andrew brings the boy with two fish and five barley loaves and the people are told to sit down on the grassy fields. Jesus then multiplies the meal of the boy into enough for over five thousand. A miracle! Even twelve baskets of bread are left over. The people see immediately that Jesus is the prophet who has come into the world. These miracles show that Jesus knows our needs, both of the flesh and spirit. We cannot live without bread, which our Father supplies to us through rain and sunshine, but we cannot live by bread alone. The rulers of the Roman Empire were accused by the poet Juvenal (ca. 100 AD) of keeping the people from rebelling by giving them bread and circuses. He detested the corruption in the government and the flaccid weakness of the people for accepting this. It was not enough. Christians spreading the good news around the world at this time were successful not only because of their generosity of food and care for their neighbors, but also their testimonies which the Spirit sparked into faith. Christianity exploded across the Roman Empire. The bread they offered was everlasting and fed the spirits of the people. His bread changed the world. And continues to. People in the West today, who, generally speaking, have enough food, are dying for lack of spiritual nourishment. You can see it in their faces. The church needs to preach this and dole out the food that feeds us for an eternity. We are in some way still isolated. I have heard from people who tell me, not surprisingly, they cannot sleep for anxiety, their stomachs are churning with GERDs and other nervous upsets. Things feel out of control and many, too many, have tried to medicate their sorrows and fears with drugs or alcohol. The numbers of suicides and overdoses is higher than ever. And in fact have been worse among the young than any COVID 19 deaths have been. I realized the other day as I was watching people on their daily walks, that perhaps many on those walks are as anxious as I have been about things in our topsy turvy world. We have the food that satisfies. As the hymn says, “You satisfy the hungry heart with gift of finest wheat.” Our people need some of that. If there were ever a better opportunity to preach the Gospel than now, it would be hard to say. The hunger is there and the food is Jesus’ Word to us, his presence in us, and he wants us to give him to the world. And best of all, he can still the storms around and in us. Even the winds obey him. Now there is a power no government, no matter how hard it tries, has. What a wonderful Lord we have! Not only does he feed us with the bounties of nature, he feeds our spirits. We go to him for his food, to be strengthened and then share it with a neighbor or two. People are anxious for it--in every sense of that word. HYMN INFO
Omar Westendorf, who lived in Ohio, became one of the leading writers of Catholic hymns after Vatican II and worship moved to English. He came home from WWII with music he had found in Holland and established a printing press and business to distribute it. His company was called World Library Publications. In 1955 it published what would become the first edition of the Peoples Mass Book printed in 1964. It was among the very first to publish the results of Vatican II thinking on liturgy. Westendorf continued writing hymns, many of which are still popular, such as "Sent forth by God's blessing." There is probably no hymn that is more popular in the Eucharistic revival that came with Vatican II. It is long enough and memorable enough to be sung as people process to receive the host. Robert Kreuz' tune is a winner as well. Kreuz, like Westendorf, was an important voice in the liturgical revival and composed many tunes for the hymns being written at the time. LINKS Official tune and text
https://youtu.be/FWR1jMRfWdk Richard Proulx and the Cathedral Choir https://youtu.be/DvPCjVWFXJw Soloist and guitar https://youtu.be/BOjbUR9ZHhw
HYMNS for Week 19 Jesus feeds the multitudes and calms the storm
JOHN 6 140 As after the Waterbrook Panteth/Som tørstige hjort monne skrige https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-140 141 Daylight fades/Dagen viger og gaar bor https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-141-daylight-fades-and-dies-away 142 Praise my Soul the King of Heaven https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-142-praise-my-soul-the-king-of-heaven 143 He Leadeth Me https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-143-he-leadeth-me-o-blessed-thought 144 Arise, my Soul, Arise https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-144-arise-my-soul-stretch-forth-swedish-finnish 145 I’m a Pilgrim and I’m a stranger/Jag er pilgrim https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-145-i-m-a-pilgrim-and-i-m-a-stranger 146 On our Way Rejoicing https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-146-on-our-way-rejoicing
HYMN for Week 18 Earth and All Stars
Text: Herbert Brokering (1926-2009). Tune: David Johnson (1922-1987) Text is in copyright see it here https://graceberkshires.org/earth-and-all-stars/ REFLECTIONS The first time I sang this with a congregation, people burst out laughing. “Classrooms and labs? Loud boiling test tubes?" What? Did these things belong in a hymn? It was a breakthrough, really. At least for American Lutheran hymn writers. Even in the 1960s, we had a rather staid notion of what belonged in a hymn and certainly not the things of this contemporary world so concretely stated. I was among those who found it strange. Which was, for me, the beginning of a long life of learning about Lutheran hymnody. Herb Brokering wrote the hymn in 1964 for the 90th anniversary of St. Olaf College and it was set to a tune by David Johnson, Professor of Music and chair of the department at the college. Herb Brokering was a force to be reckoned with in the post WWII world of Lutheran teaching and writing. Whenever he appeared he always left people wanting to do what he did, but they could not. Something about his personality made it possible for him to get whole groups of people pushing oranges around the floor with their chins. When they tried to do the same thing with other groups, it didn’t work. But he could and that was part of his power. He was a guru who had his fans and his detractors. His appearances brought people by the hundreds to hear him. He was a popular writer of spiritual poetry. He worked with photographers who illustrated his poetry. For ten years he served in the education department of the ALC. His specialty was confirmation. He taught in seminaries, usually education, and he worked with Roland Bainton on a tour celebrating Martin Luther. He wrote texts for cantatas, he worked with Dave Brubeck on an oratorio “Beloved Son” which was recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra. He spent many a summer at Holden Village writing and teaching and collaborating with other artists. He led countless tours to Germany and Luther Land. He was really everywhere. This hymn, his first to become well known, is of course very much like a psalm. One can hear Psalm 96:1 and 98 in it. The notion of a new song is fundamental to our faith. Our songs praising God are really all paradigmatically new. Christ makes all things new. Brokering shows what a new song is like in this text. Using the language of Scripture, but then adding new things never before found in hymns in this country, made the song do what it said, sing a new song The refrain is probably the best thing about the hymn—He has done marvelous things/I too will praise him with a new song. A direct quote from the psalms. Brokering was also fortunate in his tune writer. David Johnson’s tune, especially the refrain’s dwelling on the word marvelous, with such an attractive melody, made it an instant hit. People came to love it, even adding things that spoke from their world—loud chugging tractors, etc. It was easy to do. In a way, Brokering was a pioneer, discovering his tradition bit by bit. Although he had grown up in a strong German parsonage where he heard the language and knew the German tradition of hymns well, he had to learn how to make the Lutheran hymn speak English. Lutherans, when they came to this country, seemed to forget their tradition of hymnody and were taken over by the Calvinists' paraphrasing of psalms or Isaac Watts. It was the dominant hymn tradition in America, for many good reasons. Brokering may well have learned from Paul Gerhardt who preached in his hymns and used the things of the world around him. As did those who followed in his path. Brokering, as Luther would have commended, preached in this hymn It was based on the psalms, but not a paraphrase. Brokering here is addressing the congregation telling it to sing. He is preaching so he can use everything around him to picture what praising God in the new day looks like. We do not need fancy language when we pray; God is not expecting poetic prayers, but it is also true that preachers struggle every week to come up with creative ways to open the Scripture and give it a clear application to our time and place. They do that so that somehow through their language people will hear this new song. Augustine in his great book On Christian Doctrine/de doctrina christiana, makes an argument that communication does not go from one person to another like seeds into a funnel. People do not hear exactly what you say. But as they are listening, they can be fascinated by something, some piece of what you have said, and make something out of it. So then Augustine says, we are called to send out an abundance of signs so people can be persuaded or moved to faith by the power of the Holy Spirit and something in our words. I think that is what Brokering was trying to do. As he said, “I tried to gather into a hymn of praise the many facets of life which emerge in the life of community. So there are the references to building, nature, learning, family, war, festivity. Seasons, emotions, death and resurrection, bread, wine, water, wind, sun, spirit. . . have made great impressions on my imagination.“ He was a preacher and teacher urgent to get the good news out to people who had not been hearing it. For that alone, he deserves praise. HYMN INFO David Johnson, the composer, taught at St. Olaf and chaired the Music Department. His setting of this text was first published in 1968 in a book Twelve Folksongs and Spirituals. This was just when the efforts for what became the LBW were beginning. Johnson, a native of Texas, got his masters and doctoral degrees at Syracuse University. He served as organist in several congregations, taught at several colleges, wrote books on organ playing and composed over three hundred works, among them "Trumpet Tune in D," and "The Lone, Wild Bird." LINKS First Plymouth Lincoln Nebraska https://youtu.be/hh1-85tfy04 St. Olaf Choir and American Boychoir https://youtu.be/xTlH8IAqGAQ Concordia University River Forest https://youtu.be/R2hP2DrUElA Small group/piano/violin https://youtu.be/4cnfpOQU8Ws
HYMNS for Week 18 Mark 6 Jesus the healer
133 Veni Sancte Spiritus/Heilag ande Kom til oss https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-132-veni-sancte-spiritus-taizé 134 Morning has broken https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-134-morning-has-broken 135 Jesus, Priceless Treasure/Jesu, Meine Freude https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-135-jesus-priceless-treasure 136 He the Pearly Gates will Open/Han skal öpna perler porten https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-136-he-the-pearly-gates-will-open 137 Lord, I Lift your Name on High https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-137-lord-i-lift-your-name-on-high 138 Just as I am/Just som jeg er https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-138-just-as-i-am-without-one-plea 139 Borning Cry https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-139-borning-cry
HYMN for Week 17 Beheading of John the Baptist/Lord of the Dance Mark 6:17-29
Text: Sydney Carter (1915-2004) Tune: Simple Gifts 1. I danced in the morning when the world was begun,
And I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun,
And I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth:
At Bethlehem I had my birth.
R/Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the dance, said he,
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
And I'll lead you all in the dance, said he. 2. I danced for the scribe and the Pharisee,
But they would not dance and they wouldn't follow me;
I danced for the fishermen, for James and John;
They came with me and the dance went on:
R/ 3. I danced on the Sabbath and I cured the lame:
The holy people said it was a shame.
They whipped and they stripped and they hung me on high,
And they left me there on a cross to die:
R/ 4. I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black;
It's hard to dance with the devil on your back.
They buried my body and they thought I'd gone;
But I am the dance, and I still go on:
R/ 5. They cut me down and I leapt up high;
I am the life that'll never, never die.
I'll live in you if you'll live in me:
I am the Lord of the dance, said he.
R/ REFLECTION A friend of mine told me that he had rejected an offer of tickets to Richard Strauss’ opera Salome. Why, I asked. “It’s disgusting,” he replied. “Necrophilia is sickening.” Of course. The story of the seduction of Herod by Salome, her dance, her mother’s awful request to receive the head of John the Baptist on a platter, and Herod’s lust and regret make for a story that is unbearable. Artists have been drawn to it: its vivid images, its view into the human heart and its evil. But it is something from which we also shrink. Aristotle says that audiences should be drawn toward the action by pity, and away from it with equal amounts of terror. That keeps the dramatic tension high enough to cause catharsis, he argued. This story, however, is disgusting. As the old radio program had it at its beginning, “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?” Christians understand it lurks in every heart. Thinking it is only in the other leads to tyranny like we saw in Nazi Germany, or any cruel dictatorship, when the evil was entirely located in enemies who had to be eliminated. The Bible has a good number of such horrifying tales that show us the evil lurking in the hearts of human beings. Of course, Cain. The worst for me is probably Judges and the story of the Benjamite woman. Critics like Phyllis Trible in her Texts of Terror implied that the Bible approved of such treatment because it included the story. I begged to differ with her. The Bible has very few stories of completely admirable people; it always shows what happens when people give into evil; they show what happens when, as Judges has it, people do what they like without a king or ruler. Alexis de Tocqueville understood that democracies do not survive if people themselves don’t have an internal governor, like the Ten Commandments, guiding their behavior. Sometimes it feels like that is where we are now. Every morning we awaken to new texts of terror in the news. This story also shows us how one sin begets another and another until the tangled web catches everybody. Herod admired John the Baptist according to the Gospel, even feared him. That he was addled enough by his lust to promise Salome whatever she wanted brought him to a place he deeply regretted but had to go through with. In his day a man’s word was his bond. He had to keep his promise. So Herodias gets her revenge. John the Baptist’s condemnation of Herod, however, did not die just because he did. In the same way that Herod cannot go back on his word, John the Baptist’s condemnation cannot be erased from the four winds. They stand there condemning Herod forever, every time this awful episode is recounted. That this story is complemented by the OT account of David dancing before the Lord does not quite work for me, almost as if to take the edge off the horror in Salome’s dance. In David’s dance we see an ecstatic praise of God that offends Michal, his wife, Saul’s daughter, watching from the balcony. David rebukes her and all who might be offended by his dancing almost nude before the serving girls. As I have contemplated these two scenes this week, I have found no resolution to my quandary of being so repelled by Herod and attracted to David, both of them sinners, powerful rulers, capable of good and evil. All I can say is the Bible does not shrink from showing us both extremes of human behavior, not so we will emulate them, but so that we are instructed by them and realize the evil that lurks in all of us. That evil can only be resolved by the man hanging on the cross dying for us, another barbaric and unimaginable scene of terror and love. It gives us life. Carter was not wrong to make Christ the singer of this song. Christ is Lord of all things. "He is the life that will never, never die." HYMN INFO "The Lord of the Dance" comes from Sydney Carter and the 1960s. Written in 1963, and somewhat inspired by the medieval carol “Tomorrow will be my Dancing Day,” it became a favorite. It tells the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The tune is the much-loved "Simple Gifts" so it was instantly popular. Carter said he wrote it thinking of Jesus and the biblical tradition of dance, especially King David, but he also was looking at a statue of the Hindu deity Shiva dancing as well. He also remembered the Shakers, a sect from the Quakers in England, from whom the tune comes, who eschewed sexuality and marriage, but danced during their worship services. It quickly became a popular hymn. It contains all the complications, the depths and heights of our lives as sinners and saints, as we live with our Lord! LINKS
First Plymouth Church, Lincoln, Nebraska https://youtu.be/Xkk0YodJqH8 Gaither Music https://youtu.be/ZsRE37jpUOw Frankling Schaefer/ Contemporary Version
HYMNS FOR WEEK 17 Death of John the Baptist
125 Be Still, My Soul/Stille, mein Wille https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-124-be-still-my-soul-finlandia 126 I Bind unto myself this day/ St. Patrick's Breastplate https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-126-i-bind-unto-myself-this-day-st-patrick-s-breastplate 127 There is a balm in Gilead https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-127-there-is-a-balm-in-gilead 128 Lord Jesus Christ, Be Present Now/Herr Jesus Christ dich zu uns wend/O Herre Krist, deg til oss vend https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-128-lord-jesus-christ-be-present-now 129 I know a Kingdom without end /Jeg ved et evigt himmerig https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-129-i-know-a-kingdom-without-end 130 Open my eyes that I may see https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-130-open-my-eyes-that-i-may-see 131 If Everything within me/Om alle mine lemmer https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-131-if-everything-within-me 132 I surrender all/Alt for Jesus fot jeg legger https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-132-i-surrender-all
HYMN for Week 16/Mark 6:1-13/Jesus rejected
Who is This, The One Before Us? Text: Gracia Grindal Tune: Amanda Husberg 1. Who is this, the one before us, Giving people bread? Mary’s Son, he cast out demons, Raised the dead. 2. He who raised the dead is Jesus Come from Nazareth. One of ours, we do not know him Without faith. 3. Without faith we cannot see him, In the wine and bread, Once for all he died to save us, As he said. 4. Scripture says though we betray him, Still he comes to us. Once for all he died to save us On the cross. 5. On the cross we see God hidden In his flesh and blood. Spirit, give us faith to know that He is God. Text copyright 2008 Wayne Leupold Editions, Inc. REFLECTIONS The story of Jesus’ rejection by his hometown and his family is the story of people being who they are. Commentators through the ages have made allegorical interpretations of this scene showing the event as a symbolic marker of his rejection as though this rarely has happened before in families. Or hometowns. We know that is not true, maybe in our own lives. Jesus’ reciting an old truism that prophets are without honor in their own country gets at the very human nature of this rejection. And we all know it well. One of the funniest, and uncomfortably true, skits in the Carol Burnett Show that I remember was when a successful son in The Family comes home after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, among other things, to receive an honorary degree from the local college. He receives no adulation from his family, each of whom is nursing some grudge from the past. They can hardly get ready for the ceremony in his honor they are so engaged in their own dramas. They knew him when… He isn’t special, he was just… And he hurt them, but not as much as they are hurting him. While this family has the capacity to be cruel and heartless, and focused on their own griefs, it is not unusual in families. They are being normal, albeit exaggerated for comic effect. What the wider world has to say about a family member is of little consequence to my own life, they are saying. And in that they are right. There is no way they can think that their relative is more than what they know. In this event in Jesus’ life we see that the people of his hometown cannot imagine or grasp who is standing before them. In matters of faith, this is the truth. Without the gift of faith, we cannot see anything but flesh and blood. So they reject him. They think they know him, but they do not. Maybe he is too much like them. Maybe they also wonder what good can come out of Nazareth? He is only the son of a carpenter. They've known him since he was a boy. Jesus certainly is like them. He came to live with us as flesh and blood, to get to know us and relate to us and bring us a new life that changes everything. He has brought eternity into our very limited spaces. And he breaks open possibilities undreamt of in our philosophies or simple conventions. Heaven is walking with us, by us, into our dailiness. Today we are in a protracted struggle with each other about our future. Who do we want to be? People are read out of society for what they think or even thought long ago. Those thoughts define them. Their sin becomes them and there is no salvation or forgiveness possible. We Christians have always known we are sinners and despite our attempts to be good, we are filled with urges toward evil and wrongdoing. It is what should make us humble and aware of our need for correction and forgiveness. There but for the grace of God go I, is the mantra Christians have to say. It makes us gentle with others because we see ourselves in the other. The miracle is that we can be forgiven and find the strength to go forward, despite our failures. Christ came into our midst knowing exactly who we are and what would happen to him. Despite all that, he came and lived with joy among us. Even those closest to him, who thought they knew him best, were given the grace to see that what they thought they knew was not the half of it. Here in their midst stood another reality, another world, one that transformed all of life: God in the flesh, dwelling among us. Do not our hearts burn within us when we see the world around us by the power of the Holy Spirit, as he takes fire in our midst and shows us eternity? Does not this make our walk back to our homes and our friends completely different? Praise the Lord, it does! HYMN INFO It is not easy to find a hymn that speaks to this difficult topic so I am using my own. Hymn writers sometimes seem to have solved their doubt and anxiety before writing a hymn, but that often makes hymns seem too confident for weak believers who find themselves in doubt. It is not in their power to believe on their own. We pray for the Spirit to create faith in us. Amanda Husberg, the composer of the tune, died this last February. She has left behind a great treasury of music almost all of it glorifying God. I am grateful I could know her and work with her. LINKS Purify my Heart. A fine piece by Amanda and a frequent collaborator Richard Leech. Good for this lesson. https://youtu.be/ihM-sd9Zsz8 (Sorry for the bad quality copy. I am away from my copier.)
HYMNS for Week 16/Fourth of July
118 If God Himself be for Me/Ist Gott für mich/Er Gud for meg, så trede https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-118-if-god-himself-be-for-me 119 Is it true that Jesus is my brother?/Är det sant att Jesus är min broder https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-119-is-it-true-that-jesus-is-my-brother 120 Through the night of doubt and sorrow/Igjennem Nat og Trængsel https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-120-through-the-night-of-doubt-and-sorrow 121 All Glory be to God on High/Allein Gott in der hoh sei ehr/Alene Gud I himmerik https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-121all-glory-be-to-god-on-high 122 Like Noah’s Weary Dove https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-122-like-noah-s-weary-dove 123 Rock of Ages https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-123-rock-of-ages-cleft-for-me-1 124 Jesus, the Only One/Jesus, det eneste https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-124-jesus-the-only-one-jesus-det-eneste
HYMN for Week 15 Showers of Blessing
German: Sende uns strömme voll segen Swedish: Skurur af nåd skola falla Text: Daniel Webster Whittle (1840-1901). Tune: James McGranahan (1840-1907) 1 There shall be showers of blessing:
This is the promise of love;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
Sent from the Savior above.
R/Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need:
Mercy-drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead. 2 There shall be showers of blessing,
Precious reviving again;
Over the hills and the valleys
Sound of abundance of rain.
R/ 3 There shall be showers of blessing:
Send them upon us, O Lord;
Grant to us now a refreshing,
Come and now honor Thy Word.
R/ 4 There shall be showers of blessing:
Oh, that today they might fall,
Now as to God we're confessing,
Now as on Jesus we call!
Nothing is so beautiful as the prairie in June we would say driving through the fertile fields of eastern North Dakota on our way to the church convention in Minneapolis. Mother would exclaim on the vistas of new green fields sweeping over the blue horizon. Most of us, even at this remove, have old connections with a farm somewhere. We are really only three generations away from the time when almost everyone had to farm in order to live. And most people my age can remember that going home to "the farm" was still a part of their yearly routines. Now that is a fading memory, but even without the personal connection, farms are still vital to life. Without them the cities would become a concrete desert. It was an old mantra of William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925), the great populist orator and presidential candidate of the late 19th and early 20th century, in his cross of gold speech. "I tell you that the great cities rest upon these broad and fertile prairies. Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic. But destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country." People knew there was truth in what he said. The farmers around the Upper Midwest are experiencing moderate drought just now. There was a nice day of showers last week and there have been showers this weekend as well. While they have to take what they get, and are thankful for ever drop, what they need is a “good soaking rain.” A day of showers. During the Depression, especially the years 1934 and 1936 when the temperature set records that still stand today, farmers watched their crops wilt in the dry powdery fields. It was so bad, my mother said, that her father didn’t even take out the binder. The one luxury she remembered was the sweet ripe watermelons that grew by the pump. With all the sun and heat, plus the water from the well, they grew especially well and gave her an obsession for watermelon which she indulged every summer. Memories of luxuries during a hard time. When it rained after dry spells, farmers would go out and dance with thanksgiving for the showers coming down. Blessings. Rain from heaven. That is a big theme in the Bible. The Israelites knew God sent the rain and the sun. The famines caused by drought are key to much of the Biblical story—Abraham and Sarah flee to Egypt in a famine, Joseph ends up in Pharoah’s court because of famine, the Exodus from Egypt through the wilderness is dependent on water. The story of Elijah is set around the famine caused by the lack of rain. It finally comes when Elijah sees a cloud the size of a man’s hand rising up on the horizon and soon there is rain. (1 Kings 18:44-45) The biblical writers also knew that rain was a metaphor that could also be used spiritually. Sometimes our spirits seem dry as powder and we know we need refreshment. Psalm 42 is the great one, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” And of course, Jesus is the living water who quenches our thirst forever. Give me some of that water, we say with the Samaritan woman. Hymn writers also use it. Hans Adolph Brorson translated a hymn from German that used the image and became part of Dano-Norwegian hymnals: "Come rain from the Heavens. Kom regn fra det høye" ("Komm Himmlischer Regen" by Josua Stegmann.) 2. Come, springs out of heaven, your waters come flow here
On this your own land.
That flowers and fruit from your gardens may prosper
And grow where they stand.
See also my heart so abandoned and sore
It wishes so dearly
With sign and with weeping
To hold all your wealth,
To hold all your wealth. Many of us may feel this is a dry time, but we know where to look for refreshment. On the farm, my grandparents and aunts and uncles always looked to the southwest for clouds, and prayed that even a cloud the size of man’s hand, would bring them showers of blessings. Almost always they did receive rain. And they knew it came from God. For spiritual refreshment, we look to God's Word. We may feel as parched as if we are in a spiritual desert, but Jesus promises us that he is the water of life. Whenever we are thirsty, we are to go to him. Sometimes we may feel those waters are not there and we long for springs from heaven, for seasons of refreshing. We pray the Holy Spirit will bring those showers, but more, show us that indeed we will know the rain from heaven is refreshing us and quenching our thirst again and again. It is what he promised. HYMN INFO Whittle and McGranahan met each other when they were looking for the bodies of Phillip Bliss and his wife who had died in a terrible train accident at Ashtubula, Ohio. They regarded their meeting as a sign they should work together. From then on they became a Gospel Music team. As did many in this movement, they worked with Dwight L. Moody and Ira Sankey in their revivals. For eleven years they were together, writing songs and holding meetings around the English speaking world. LINKS
Showers of Blessing
St. Andrews Church/The Kirk/ Conductor: Prabhu Dorairaj Piano: Jayanthi Prabhakar https://youtu.be/0_y0IuCU8kQ Andy Harsant
https://youtu.be/T2hqISashRg German version
https://youtu.be/eV8PG7kjzc4 Swedish version
https://youtu.be/OMWrS-hdT0s Norwegian hymn on "Kom regn fra det høye"
https://youtu.be/-Z4SKO8xbP0 Oslo Domkirke Kor "Kom regn fra det høye"
https://youtu.be/ju3dBQXvNiM Sondre Bratland "Kom regn fra det høye"
https://youtu.be/dPknG7uwxvo Hymn below on the Samaritan woman John 4
HYMNS for Week 15 High Summer
Pentecost 5 110 All Creatures of our God and King https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-110-all-creatures-of-our-god-and-king 111 My Jesus, I Love Thee https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-111-my-jesus-i-love-thee 112 O Day Full of Grace/Den signade Dag/Swedish https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-112-o-day-full-of-grace-swedish 113 Near to the Heart of God https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-113-near-to-the-heart-of-god 114 O Day full of Grace/Den signede Dag/Danish https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-114-o-day-full-of-grace-danish 115 To God be the Glory https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-115-to-god-be-the-glory 116 Love Divine, all Loves Excelling https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-116-love-divine-all-loves-excelling 117 Jesus’ Name/Navnet Jesus Bleikner aldrig https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-117-jesus-name-navnet-jesus