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HYMN FOR PENTECOST 3 Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
Text: Wallis Willis (ca 1820-1880) Tune: Alexander Reid R/Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.
1. I looked over Jordan, and what did I see,
Coming for to carry me home.
A band of angels coming after me,
Coming for to carry me home.
2. If you get there before I do,
Coming for to carry me home.
Tell all my friends I'm coming too,
Coming for to carry me home.
3. The brightest day that ever I saw
Coming for to carry me home.
When Jesus washed my sins away,
Coming for to carry me home.
4. I'm sometimes up and sometimes down,
Coming for to carry me home.
But still my soul feels heavenly bound,
Coming for to carry me home.
R/ REFLECTIONS The story of Elijah riding the chariot of fire into heaven and passing on his mantle to Elisha is one that catches the imagination of most everyone who hears it. Think, waiting by the river, and suddenly seeing a fiery chariot with horses descending to earth to pick up the great prophet. He is among the two in Scripture, Enoch the other (Genesis 5:24), who "did not see death." The passover meal expects Elijah to return, thus an empty chair always awaits the prophet. And Malachi 4:5 says that the Lord will send Elijah …”before the great and awesome day of the Lord.” Both John the Baptist and Jesus remind their listeners of Elijah. Elijah even appears with Jesus in the Transfiguration, standing with Moses, the Law and Elijah the prophet, both assumed in Jesus when they disappear and the disciples see Jesus only. Jesus referred to Elijah and his miracle with the widow of Zarephath when he is giving his sermon in the synagogue in Luke 4. It enrages his audience. There are many moments in Scripture when heaven comes down to earth, never more fully than when Jesus is born. But we have other images of the descent in Jacob’s ladder, in the Transfiguration and in the chariot of fire. The singer of this spiritual is looking forward to being carried away into heaven by a band of angels. There is a kind of weariness in the song—Sometimes I’m up and sometimes down—so I want to be taken now. There is also joy in that one’s sins have been forgiven. Because they have been forgiven, we can now stand before our maker, cleansed and holy. If we have not been made holy by the Spirit, we cannot stand before God since he is pure holiness and cannot abide sin—it is his very nature. He is like a fire, Scripture says, and we cannot be near him without a redeemer or mediator. Jesus is that mediator. He died to make us holy, able to be in fellowship with him and the Father. That is the glory of our faith, something Martin Luther saw in his flash of insight into the Gospel—We are justified—made holy—by faith, in other words, Christ, not our own efforts. No amount of our work can make us holy enough to be with God. All we can bring to this transaction is a broken heart. We can see the chariot coming for us with the angels, the light, and the fire, confident that despite all our sins, we have been made right by the blood of Christ and can spend all our lives here and in eternity in blissful fellowship with God and the saints forever. Swing low, sweet chariot! HYMN INFO This hymn has an interesting history. The sources for most spirituals cannot be easily found, but this one can. This can be traced to Wallis Willis, a Choctaw freedman in the old Indian Territory in Oklahoma after the Civil War. Scholars surmise that Willis was working by the Red River and thought of the Jordan River and Elijah’s beng swept up into the chariot. (2 Kings 2:11). It could also be a song by those helping to free slaves through the Underground Railroad before the Civil War. A minister, Alexander Reid, at the Old Spencer Academy, a Choctaw boarding school, is said to have overheard Willis singing this song and heard Willis singing it and transcribed the words and melody. He sent it to the Fisk Jubilee Singers in Nashville and they made it popular during their tour in 1870. It has been recorded thousands of times. One of the earliest if by the Fisk Jubilee Singers below. Over time it has become the anthem of the Rugby World Cup games! LINKS Fisk Jubilee Singers 1909 https://youtu.be/GUvBGZnL9rE RickyRing https://youtu.be/9PGrXSD735s Eric Clapton https://youtu.be/9PGrXSD735s Michele Kennedy https://youtu.be/utD5qo9c_UU Rugby International Cup Game 2003 https://youtu.be/Y4160hxEuqg Anders Öhrwall Choir https://youtu.be/HMoZ5U_dX1w
HYMN FOR Second Sunday After Pentecost As Pants the Hart
Text: Nahum Tate (1652-1715) and Nicholas Brady (1639-1726) Tune: Martyrdom *1 As pants the hart for cooling streams,
When heated in the chase;
So longs my soul, O God, for thee,
And thy refreshing grace.
*2 For thee, my God, the living God,
My thirsty soul doth pine;
O! when shall I behold thy face,
Thou majesty divine?
3 Tears are my constant food, while thus
Insulting foes upbraid;
"Deluded wretch! where's now thy God?
"And where his promised aid?"
4 I sigh whene'er my musing thoughts,
Those happy days present,
When I, with troops of pious friends,
Thy temple did frequent:
5 When I advanced with songs of praise,
My solemn vows to pay;
And led the joyful sacred throng,
And kept the festal day.
6 Why restless, why cast down, my soul?
Trust God; and he'll employ
His aid for thee, and change these sighs
To thankful hymns of joy.
7 My soul's cast down, O God; but thinks
On thee and Sion still'
From Jordan's banks, from Hermon's height,
And Mizar's humbler hill.
8 One trouble calls another on;
And, bursting o'er my head,
Fall spouting down, till round my soul
A roaring sea is spread.
9 But when thy presence, Lord of life,
Has once dispelled this storm,
To thee I'll midnight anthems sing,
And all my vows perform.
10 God of my strength, how long shall I,
Like one forgotten, mourn,
Forlorn, forsaken, and exposed
To my oppressor's scorn?
11 My heart is pierced as with a sword,
Whilst thus my foes upbraid;
"Vain boaster, where is now thy God?
"And where His promised aid?"
*12 Why restless, why cast down, my soul?
Hope still; and thou shalt sing
The praise of him who is thy God,
Thy health's eternal spring. REFLECTION
To be human is to suffer. Suffering is a mark of the church according to Martin Luther. This great Psalm of David takes us through suffering, from the aching thirst of the deer, to remembrances of good times, to hope that God will provide, as he has in the past, “Thy health’s eternal spring.” This paraphrase of Psalm 42 from the 17th century uses the entire psalm. I find it interesting that for the last two centuries, hymnal editors have cut it down to include only the starred stanzas plus a doxology. While I do understand the need to have shorter hymns, editors tend to leave out the dark meat, the part that speaks frankly about our sense of abandonment, our suffering and feelings of being forsaken.Trying to comfort by only speaking of the brighter side may actually increase suffering. In the church of late I sense a move toward wanting to prevent suffering with good programs and interventions, but on the other hand something of an avoidance of speaking the truth to the one who is suffering. Scripture, especially the Psalms, is filled with shrieks of terror and doubt, even accusations against God for seeming to have abandoned the writer. The psalmist is learning to cope by remembering the best days behind him and speaking truthfully about his suffering, asking for God's return. When people are at their lowest ebb, sweet talk is simply an irritation. They want the truth. Once I tried to comfort my mother in her last difficult weeks with one of her favorite verses, "Rejoice in the Lord." Never one to mince words, she looked at me fiercely and said "Oh, shut up!" I doubled over with laughter, which she fully expected, but she was telling me that what she needed was a lament. As Emily Dickinson wrote, “I like a look of agony because I know ‘tis true.” In my father’s last months, he was briefly in the hospital and had been given a shot to calm him down, which brought him into deep confusion. I stayed overnight with him for several nights watching as his mind cleared. I read him Psalm 71, the old man’s psalm. He stopped me on verse 9: “Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.” He looked up at me, his soft greenish gray eyes coming into focus, “That is my prayer.” He needed the truth and knew it when he heard it. We can’t fix everything, much as we would like to. We are helpless against much pain and suffering, we are nothing against death. But our faith gives us words that speak the truth and stand like pillars against all that is crumbling around us. UNANSWERED PRAYER Like some schoolmaster, kind in being stern, Who hears the children crying o’er their slates And calling, “Help me, master!” yet helps not, Since in his silence and refusal lies Their self-development, so God abides Unheeding many prayers. He is not deaf To any cry sent up from earnest hearts; He hears and strengthens when He must deny. He sees us weeping o’er life’s hard sums, But should He give the key and dry our tears, What would it profit us when school were done And not one lesson mastered? Ella Wheeler Wilcox HYMN INFO Tate and Brady produced a New Version of the Psalter in 1696, supplanting the first one by Sternhold and Hopkins (ca. 1562). Tate was poet laureate of England at the time, but not very highly regarded. Brady was also involved in the literary world of the realm but did not achieve great reputation as a poet. However, their psalter became the preferred one in its time. It soon gave way to Isaac Watts looser versions of the psalms in 1719. According to Calvin’s rules, when one paraphrased a psalm into a singable version in the vernacular, one had to include every “jot and tittle” of the original so it would be God’s word in all its purity. LINKS First Methodist Church at Chicago Temple https://youtu.be/X1RXgbc7E_w Matijn de Groot https://youtu.be/M6sCtJKPxbY Rod Smith https://youtu.be/hXNkA8qPxqI
HYMN FOR TRINITY SUNDAY Father in Heaven, Grant to your children
Swedish: Himmelske Fader, ge åt oss alla Text: Daniel Thambyrajah Niles (1908-1962) Tune: Elena G. Maquiso (1914-1995) 1 Father in heaven, grant to your children
mercy and blessing, songs never-ceasing;
love to unite us, grace to redeem us,
Father in heaven, Father, our God. 2 Jesus, Redeemer, may we remember
your gracious passion, your resurrection:
Worship we bring you, praise we shall sing you,
Jesus, Redeemer, Jesus, our Lord. 3 Spirit descending, whose is the blessing:
strength for the weary, help for the needy;
sealing Christ's Lordship, blessing our worship,
Spirit descending, Spirit adored. REFLECTIONS
This is a sweet, simple text for Trinity. It addresses the three persons of the Trinity and teaches us their work. Orthodox theologians want us to be careful not to separate the three persons into their separate functions. All three persons create, save, and give life. But we also have a long tradition of remembering the role of each person in their fellowship with us. We pray to the Father in the name of Jesus with the Spirit. I cannot think of prayer meetings and the presence of the Spirit without returning to my teen aged years when I was forced to attend the weekly bible study and prayer meeting. No matter what—homework, practice, school—there was no excuse for me. So along with my parents and siblings we would finish the dishes and rush out to the church three blocks away. Since the meetings were mostly in the winter, and this was in the Willamette Valley, it was always raining. The church was right on Highway 99 going north out of town and as we sat in the very plain home mission church reading Scripture together, the cars speeding by us sounded like rushing water. As the quiet settled down around us, and people began opening their hearts to God with named and unnamed requests, I would get a picture of the lives they were living from their petitions. If they struggled with sin, that would be clear. If they cared about mission, that would emerge in their words. And if they mentioned an unknown request, I would usually have an idea it had something to do with their kids. So did everyone else. And even as a somewhat cynical teenager, I could not deny the presence of the Spirit in the meetings. The swishing of the cars, sounded like a rushing wind. As one after another broke into the silence with their prayer, filled with sighing, one could hear the intimacy of their relationship with the Lord—this was heart to heart talk with their friend and Heavenly Father. The softly breathed amens brought us together into one body. One might even hear some distress in their words and my mother who didn’t miss much would tell my father You need to visit him or her. At the end, when the last person had offered up a prayer, the silence began to break. My father would sing "Have Thine Own Way" and we would stand up and after warm greetings, go out into the sparkling rain of the evening. On the whole, these were not educated people. Their language of prayer, however, had a kind of majesty to it because it was the language of the King James Version of the Bible, the one book they read over and over again. Over the years one could hear them growing more wise and eloquent about their faith and relationship with God. If we get this day right, we should stand amazed that the great Creator of all in his infinite mercy has made it possible for everyone—from the great to the small—to be in direct and intimate relationship with God. Our faith can be spread from person to person simply by our testimony. That is how the Gospel first spread around the Roman Empire. Soldiers told it to others soldiers; workmen testified of their new faith to their neighbors; nurses to those they cared for. The word--Jesus Christ--came to life by the power of the Spirit and brought the entire deity into the hearts of each one who heard and believed. HYMN INFO Daniel Thambyrajah Niles, one of the great leaders of the Christian church in the 20th century, grew up in Ceylon/Sri Lanka, the son and grandson of Methodist pastors. At the first assembly of the World Council of Churches in 1948, he attracted attention for his powerful preaching. He led many international Christian organizations, and served a term as President of the WCC. He wrote several hymns. This is one of his most popular. The composer, from the Philippines, served in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) and was a professor in Christian Education at the SU Divinity School. She wrote many hymns during her lifetime. LINKS
Revd Paul Monk/Wellspring for Worship
https://youtu.be/1Uj060nzx7Q Aderoh Benedict
https://youtu.be/TmasSTokWZI John Keys at the organ
https://youtu.be/L5LpidPnVz0 URC St. James’ Newcastle Hymns
PENTECOST The Lone, Wild Fowl
Text: Henry R. MacFayden (1877-1964) Tune: Southern Harmony 1835 1 The lone, wild fowl in lofty flight
Is still with thee, nor leaves thy sight.
And I am thine! I rest in thee.
Great Spirit, come, and rest in me.
2 The ends of earth are in thy hand,
The sea's dark deep and no-man’s land.
And I am thine! I rest in thee.
Great Spirit, come, and rest in me. REFLECTIONS Pentecost, which marks the coming of the Spirit, has tended to take a back seat to Christmas, and Easter. Some have called the Holy Spirit the shy member of the Trinity, taking a back seat to the Father and Son. The Trinity is not easy to fathom, and the theologians and philosophers have spent millennia trying to, but what is easiest in my book is Jesus’ in his High Priestly prayer reveling in the fact that he and his Father are one. As he leaves the disciples on Ascension Day he explains that he will send his Spirit. The Spirit will make him present everywhere—ubiquitous—to use a fancy word. It will come like wind, fire, or in the form of a bird. There can be no Christian life without the Spirit to breathe on us and give the Word life. Jesus has promised that if we are together in his name reading his word and talking among ourselves about him, he is there. In the same way that when God breathes into the dust of Adam he comes to life, so we as sisters and brothers of the new Adam need God’s breath in us to rise up and live. The Middle Ages had a term for spiritual torpor—acedia—something the monks used to describe the dead air around them. Acquinas called it “the sorrow of the world that worketh death.” Or not even caring that one doesn’t care. Dante, a disciple of Acquinas, used it to describe the sloth or lack of feeling that was drowning him midway in his life’s journey. It nearly destroyed him until Heaven intervened and raised him up. He needed a fresh blast of the Spirit’s wind in order to be fully alive. To quicken him, raise him from the dead, in other words. We all know that feeling of walking into a room that has not been aired out in years. It feels deadly until the windows are opened and fresh air pours in and we feel life again. So it is in our souls. The song writer knows that God’s Spirit is in full contact with God and is everywhere in creation. The fowl rides on the wind and brings it to us, to our beings. It changes us and makes life vivid and new. When I was a child, our family lived on the western prairies of North Dakota. The wind was a constant howling presence—we knew it was there. What it brought was light, clean air that freshened everything, our spirits, our homes, especially the clothes on the clothesline. My mother wrote in her diaries how she would love to stand out on the prairies and just gulp the air. It invigorated everything and gave us life. So it is with the Holy Spirit. It refreshes us with life. We pray with the writer, “Great Spirit, come and rest in me.” HYMN INFO This hymn sounds like a folk hymn with its simple diction and lack of anything ornate. Its contemplation of the work of the Holy Spirit in terms of the lone, wild fowl is concrete and visual. Its author was the son of a Civil War soldier who spent time in prison during the war. The author, who studied at Union Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, after the war, spent much of his ministry in Texas. The tune comes to us from that great collection of Southern tunes by Williston Walker. It sounds deeply American and could be used as the soundtrack of a cowboy movie. LINKS Marty Haugen https://youtu.be/rH-xfPx9qUk Kim Paterson and First Presbyterian Church Oneconta/The text and tune https://youtu.be/C8ZhBEJeIHU L.A. Choral Lab https://youtu.be/cjaSnN68YNM Richard Burchard https://youtu.be/Pt5snmlSjtg Westminster Chorus https://youtu.be/QYnFE9zH6Us
HYMN FOR ASCENSION The GREAT COMMISSION Din Rikssak, Jesus,
Text: Karl Ludvig Reichelt (1877-1952) Tune: Michael Haydn (1737-1806) Your mission, Lord, will always be My greatest joy to do. O thanks that you are calling me To serve and follow you! Unworthy as I am, O Lord, To bring to all your saving word, But since you name me dearest friend And take me in your arms again, To give me strength I’ll go where I am sent! Give me your gentle saving care For those who suffer wrong. Reveal the sorrow that you bear And make me kind and strong. Teach me to see as you have shown All people that you call your own, To bear the world’s great need and shame, With sacrificial love for them, Until my death, With patient cheerful strength. For then I surely will behold A glorious thing to see— As life is ebbing dark and cold, To end my pain and grief— God’s kingdom shining pure and bright, Christ coming to receive his bride From every nation, every land, With crowns of light for all who stand In joyful choirs And praise their risen Lord! Tr. Gracia Grindal REFLECTIONS In a way, Jesus in his Great Commission is telling his disciples to be fruitful and multiply. Go and make disciples of all nations is a big order. I wonder as they heard that if they thought back to their simple beginnings as fishermen and when they took that fateful step forward after Jesus called them to follow? Saying yes and opening a door to an unknown future can be exciting and daunting. As we get older and can see far back into our past we can mark a moment when we said yes to something, not thinking how transformative it would be, and now we can see it made all the difference. People who are called to be missionaries, responding with a yes to Jesus’ command, will be the first to agree. I think especially of Thea Rønning, a young woman from Bø i Telemark, who emigrated to Faribault MN in 1887 with her younger brother, Nils, to be with her older brother Halvor, who was just finishing his studies at Red Wing Seminary and would come to serve the Solør parish near there. Halvor had heard the call to be a missionary to China one starry night outside his farm in Telemark. He looked up into the skies and saw the twinkling lights and thought he saw the angels rejoicing over the finding of one lost soul, as per Luke 15. He wanted to help add to that number by preaching the Gospel in China. As Thea began learning English and helping her brother in the parish, she heard in the Ladies Aid descriptions of the needs in China, especially the dire situation of the women and little girls having to bind their feet. Over the next couple of years it became a burning passion to her. When some Hauge Synod pastors and lay people decided to found a Mission Society for China, she and her brother were among the first to be sent. Her letters home to her family and to the church papers tell the story of one coming to understand daily the consequence of her yes. As they were traveling around gaining support for their mission, she began speaking using Ezekiel 37, on these dry bones will live. She wanted to preach the living God. When they got to China and Hankow (now Wuhan) the enormity of her yes almost defeated her. She described an almost dark night of the soul as she paced in her very minimal housing. She then looked up at the skies and saw the stars. They gave her hope to go forward, which she did. She was quick to learn Chinese, her main goal, so she could bring the Gospel to the Chinese women and children flocking around her. She married Carl Landahl and they were going to open a new field in Taipingtien north of Hankow, but suddenly she became ill and died. The seeds she and the other missionaries in her group broadcast about them brought forth yields that we are still harvesting. When descendants of those who opened that field in China returned, after the lifting of the Bamboo curtain, they were greeted by Christians who remembered them or their parents and grandparents and were still tending the graves of the missionaries. The numbers of Christians rather than smaller, was much larger. They had been faithful in sowing the word. And now they are watching the harvest and God’s kingdom shining pure and bright Christ coming to receive his bride From every nation, every land, The sowing is continuing as is the harvest. God’s faithful disciples continue to sow wherever they are found. The fields are ripe. God is calling. HYMN INFO
Karl Ludvig Reichelt was born in Arendal, Norway. He felt called to China where he founded the Nordic Christian Buddhist Mission in China, today Areopagos. It was built in Hong Kong as the Tao Fong Shan Christian Institute. He returned to Hong Kong in 1951 to his institute, where he later died. He wrote a great deal and was a leader in Christian Buddhist dialog. Some of his writings made him controversial. Of all he wrote, however, this hymn remains his most beloved and famous. Hardly a missionary leaves from Norway without having it sung at their commissioning service. His work was remembered in a cantata by the Norwegian composer Sigvald Tveit: The Pilgrim. commissioned by The Scandinavian Christian Mission To Buddhists for their 75th Anniversary (1922-1997). The first performance in Hong Kong Concert Hall occurred during the same year that Hong Kong was incorporated back into China. LINKS Fulani Messe https://youtu.be/DSDdELiNpN4 Ingvild https://youtu.be/Z3D2IYW0l5Q Swedish version https://youtu.be/N_2xKslnEHI Organ fantasy on the Haydn tune https://youtu.be/ijOdTFP2tZ0 LINK FOR BOOK ON THEA https://www.amazon.com/Thea-Rønning-Young-Woman-Mission/dp/193268879X/ref=sr_1_1?crid=35DXO77E9UF3S&keywords=Thea+Rønning&qid=1653781557&s=books&sprefix=thea+rønning%2Cstripbooks%2C109&sr=1-1
HYMN FOR EASTER 6 By the Splashing Water
Text: Gracia Grindal Tune James E. Clemmens By the splashing water I sat all alone. No one came to help me Clamber down the stone. Where the pool would heal me, Body, mind and soul. So that I could rise up Fully healed and whole. Then I met a healer Telling me to rise; Rise, take up your pallet Rise, be whole, he cried. I stood up and started Walking down the street All the city saw me Walk upon my feet. In the bright spring morning, Jesus gave me health. After he had found me, I received his wealth. Morning broke around me, Fille my heart with dawn, In my flesh God’s glory Filled me like the sun. Dear friends, do not doubt it, Hear this sparkling Word: This man we call Jesus Is our God and Lord. He came from his Father Here to give us light, Shine against the darkness, Chase away the night. REFLECTIONS
Jesus makes the slight suggestion in this Scripture that the man who had been sitting there so many years doesn’t really want to be healed. The man’s answer tends to say that is true; he blames his not being healed on the failure of others to help him. Jesus has more to heal than the man’s infirmities. He needs to change his heart, his whole being. Rise up, take your pallet and go. He doesn’t even get him into the water. He simply commands, Rise up, take your pallet and walk. And he does! The man doesn’t know who it was that healed him but will later find out when Jesus meets him in the temple. The religious authorities do not like that this has been done on the sabbath. After that the man testifies to the one who had healed him. This account is rich in human understanding. Jesus is right to wonder if the man even wants to be healed. After thirty-eight years he may have grown accustomed to his place. He can lie there suffering, blaming it on others and not really reflect on his own failures. It is easy when you are sick to pull into yourself and think only of your needs. It is almost a necessity. And we must be clear, this man was totally dependent on others for everything—food, clothing, cleansing, movement anywhere. He had obviously found those who would help him. Maybe the routine had become his comfort. Finally, it becomes such a habit that the idea of being utterly healed and changed would seem, oddly, like a loss. In a way, the man has made an idol of his infirmities. I can understand not wanting to change. We get set in our ways, and our personalities and moods are kind of what they are. They make us who we are. We know the character who always sees the worst in everything and for him or her to be utterly changed would be a miracle. Maybe that is even more of a miracle than being able to tell the man, Rise up, take your pallet, and walk. We see very little in the account of how the man responded to his healing. He does what he is told--to rise up and walk. Then he goes to the temple where Jesus’ enemies are. When Jesus finds him there, and makes himself known, he then can tell them who his healer is. This leads to an astonishing discourse on the divinity of Jesus. Only God could do this kind of work. Which means Jesus is God. And that is the offense. God could not look like this very ordinary man, one of our own. He should be far up, high and away. While the angel's troubling the water is a scene painters have liked to depict, Jesus does not show his divinity like that. He heals the man with words, simply put and simply followed. God always works through the word. And yet, it is the glory of our faith. Jesus, God’s Son, did come down to be with us and live with us. In his three years of walking the byways of Palestine, he learned who we were. And he knew his mission was to change everything here. Not by making us different, but by giving us hope in the darkest times, hope that makes whatever dark valley we are in today quite different because we have seen the light shining up ahead. It makes everything bearable. In fact, it makes this life in him, like heaven already because we are with the one who came to give us eternal life, heaven. HYMN INFO
When I wrote this hymn based on John 5:1-19. I was taken with the how much change Jesus works in the man and in us when he comes to us with “healing in his wings.” The strong sense of light that he brings was the subject of the last stanza.
HYMNS FOR EASTER 5 “They’ll know we are Christians by our Love/Guds Sønn steg ned å tjene
They'll know we are Christians by our Love Text and Tune: Peter Scholltes (1938-2009) (Copyright protection means I can’t print the text, but you will find it in the links). Guds Sønn steg ned å tjene/God's Son came here to serve us Text: Jonas Anton Dahl (1849-1919). Tune: Anders Arrebo (1587-1637) Gpd’s Son came here to serve us And give himself for us. Just like a seed that’s planted, He died and then arose. The greatest of creation Is not might from above, But one who’s glad to serve us, He wore a robe of love. The highest in creation Is not the eagle’s flight But one whose heart is winging To help their neighbors’ plight. What joy to find God’s heaven Among the least we see. To lose life is to find it; To give is to receive. When serving you’ll find power, When serving trust while you Are sowing, fields will ripen Into eternal blue. When all of earth’s great wonders Have crumbled down and died, Then we shall see how hidden Life was within the seed. For love is what protects us And all we know of God. So plan while spring is moving Your life toward those God loves. Tr. Gracia Grindal REFLECTIONS
As the news of Jesus spread throughout Roman Empire, people looking at how Christians lived remarked “See how they love one another.” This song from the sixties uses that expression as its theme. For some it became a tiresome chorus that seemed to praise Christians for their goodness. Anyone who has survived a church fight might have reason to question the phrase. But it is among one of Jesus’ last and most important commands. He explains what that love means—just as I have served you, so you are to serve others. That is what love is all about. Love, for Jesus, has almost nothing to do with feelings, it is all about deeds. He has just washed his disciples’ feet, to their surprise. A master who serves? That goes against everything the ancient world understood. Today, even if we have that phrase in our tradition, it goes against what we know. To love is to serve. That is the essence of the Christian faith. Those who expect to be served are going to be surprised at the end. When did we see you, they will ask at the last judgment, Jesus says in Matthew 25. When you served me. He shows us exactly how radical his gospel is in the washing of feet. Some scholars describe his kneeling down to do this as his worshiping his disciples.(The root of the word worship in English means giving worth to.) Kneeling down is to give honor to, gives worth to the one who is being served. In many ways, Jesus came to give us worth--which he did by loving us with a love we can barely fathom. This last year, at the height of the pandemic, I ordered a dishwasher which was seven months late in being delivered. I paid extra to have the men who delivered it carry it up the three flights of stairs to my apartment. When they finally arrived, they could not take it up because their directions were clear—the steps up to our front porch counted as a flight. I started to get mad, but bit my tongue when one of them said, “You can’t believe how awful it is doing this. Because the manufacturers and companies are late, people take out their anger on us. We are not responsible for the delay or for our instructions.” I immediately shut up and apologized. The other day I heard someone talking about how the shut down during the pandemic would not have been possible even ten years before because then we didn’t have a laptop culture like we have now. Those of us with the means to work from home could do so because of a servant class that did our bidding. And we could yell at them when they didn’t do exactly what we wanted whether or not they could fulfill the tasks we demanded. This has opened up great chasms between the elite and lower classes. It has rent the soclal fabric which we depend on for life. They were doing a job for which they were being paid, and suffering my irritation. In my long life I have had jobs that many think of demeaning: cannery worker, cleaning lady and floor washer, so I have a memory of how they may have felt. It helps me understand why Jesus’ bending down to wash his disciples’ dirty feet appealed mightily to the simple folk in Rome, living from hand to mouth, slaves often suffering brutal treatment from their masters, watching their babies die of malnutrition, or falling ill from diseases rampant in the filthy water and hovels where they lived. They had a Savior who loved them enough to serve them, one who said his followers should serve others. And the Christians of every stripe did so. It changed the world. The Gospel should afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted, Christians have said. The scripture for today and the songs say that in no uncertain terms. God himself in his own son came from heaven to serve us! It is the secret of the universe. What joy to find God’s heaven Among the least we see. To lose life is to find it; To give is to receive. HYMN INFO Born in Evanston, Illinois, Peter Scholtes attended Catholic schools in Oak Park. He served as parish priest in Chicago’s south side in the sixties. As a leader of a youth group, he wanted a song that spoke to the times, ecumenically and socially. He composed the song in a day and it became the song of the Chicago Civil Rights movement. Later he became a consultant for business organizations, and wrote the book The Team Handbook later deemed among the 100 Best Business Books of All Time. He was especially against practices like performance review which he said demoralized employees. Jonas Dahl was a pastor in the Norwegian Seaman’s mission in Amsterdam. During his life he wrote over 250 hymns. He served as pastor in Trondheim, Kongsberg, Stavanger, and Oslo. This, along with, "Nå vandrer fra hver en verdens krok," are his most well known.. LINKS Forest Home https://youtu.be/wo4ijOIs6as Jars of Clay https://youtu.be/6CI4qefRAi4 The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir https://youtu.be/OyBNheDUmKY Lynda Randle https://youtu.be/tWzku-RPm40 Guds Sønn steg ned å tjene Frelsarmeen https://youtu.be/JHdhCN_JwbA
HYMN FOR EASTER IV My Shepherd, will supply my need
Text: Isaac Watts (1674-1748) Tune: W. Walker's Southern Harmony, 1835 PsALM XXIII. Common Metre. (Watts' original text) I. My Shepherd will Supply my Need, Jehovah is his Name; In Pastures fresh he makes me feed Beside the living Stream. 2. He brings my wandring Spirit back When I forsake his Ways; And leads me for his Mercy's sake In Paths of Truth and Grace. 3. When I walk thro' the shades of Death Thy Presence is my stay; A Word of thy supporting Breath Drives all my Fears away. 4. Thy Hand in sight of all my Foes Doth still my Table spread; My Cup with Blessings overflows, Thine Oil anoints my Head. 5. The sure Provisions of my God. Attend me all my Days; O may thy House be mine Abode And all my Work be Praise! 6. There would I find a settled Rest, (While others go and come) No more a Stranger or a Guest, But like a Child at Home. REFLECTION Good Shepherd Sunday. One of the oldest images of Christ. He has just said to his hearers, I AM the Good Shepherd. With his I AM, he is saying, as they all can hear, that he is Yahweh. They hear him speak, but don’t seem to hear his voice. And so they ask again? Tell us plainly: Are you the Christ? Even if he says yes, they can’t hear because they do not believe, they are not his sheep. Shepherds tell us that sheep respond to the voice of their shepherd and no other. So no matter how much you yell at other sheep, they won’t follow you. Believers when they hear their shepherd’s voice, follow it and trust that all will be well. I will never perish, and no one will snatch me out of his hand. It is his promise. That promise gives the Christian a supreme sense of peace. And courage. I don’t always seem to claim that peace nor that courage. I am not very confident I will act on these words at crunch time.Then I remember the words of Jesus when he tells us “when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak.” Watts says it, "My shepherd will supply my need." Sheep may get frightened, but do they worry? When they are frightened, they trust their shepherd to take care of them so they will not perish. We walk by faith, we say, and not by sight. Which means not thinking about the steps a mile away, but taking comfort in where we are now, and that our Shepherd is right here with us. Cowering in a corner because of something that might happen tomorrow or next year keeps us from living. Jesus promises us always to be here in the present. Those who trust that can step into the darkness without fear because they know he is with them. “Thy presence is my stay.” But sheep are always sheep and always in need of their shepherd. We don’t grow into lions, able to be away from our shepherd. Americans celebrate Mother’s Day today. Good mothers want their children to grow up and not need them anymore. They know their children grow by facing difficulties on their own and as they mother them, they have to let them grow by suffering the consequences of their decisions. This is often more difficult for the parents than the child. Helicopter parents, as we have called them, do their children no favors by keeping them from difficulties. On the other hand, Christ does not want us to grow so we think we no longer need him. Christians are always in need of their shepherd. We never grow out of that need. Jesus makes that clear. Unless we become as little children in our faith, he says, we will not inherit the kingdom. As the hymn puts it, we are always "like a child at home." Our growth in faith is counter intuitive, if you like. The more we understand how utterly dependent we are on our Savior, the wiser we become and the deeper our faith. Our character is shaped by suffering, as Paul says in Romans 5. We grow up in wisdom as we face life and the consequences of the choices we make and take responsibility for them. Great dramas are stories of how a character grows by facing life and not retreating from it. As Christians we believe Christ is there as we pass through those dark valleys and shadows. But we never grow out of needing our shepherd. As we mature, we become more aware of how much we need him. As I think of the saints I have known over my long life, I think of those who quietly wait upon the Lord, their Shepherd. They trust him to be with them through everything. They rest in him. They do not fret about what might be coming. That is the unknown.They, like the little lambs, stay near him, joyful to see their "cup with blessings overflow" as they flourish where they are and where they are going. Here would I find a settled rest,
(While others go and come)
No more a stranger, nor a guest,
But like a child at home HYMN INFO Isaac Watts is the father of English hymnody. He broke away from the Calvinist tradition of paraphrasing the psalms exactly and used them in a much looser way. Here we have his version of the Good Shepherd Psalm 23, first published in Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament. (1719) All of the images come from the psalm. The poetry is wonderful. (I have used Watt's original instead of the many revisions.) There is nothing forced in the rhymes. It is as one critic says, "among the most lovely and most tender"use of Psalm 23. Watts was from a family of English dissenters and was thus not able to attend the great universities of England, but got his education in dissenter schools He did very well. A sickly young man, he became a pastor in 1702. He found refuge in the home of Sir Thomas Abney, at his residence in Abney Park. At their request he lived with them until his death. During his time, he was a prolific writer of hymns, textbooks, poetry and other works of an edifying nature. The tune is from the Southern Hamony, by anonymous, who usually writes great tunes!. LINKS MORMON TABERNACLE CHOIR
https://youtu.be/yzARLyXJjec Baylor Chorus
https://youtu.be/KPcBRJpF-Vw Virgil Thompson https://youtu.be/5I_hAhyzhfU Eclipse
HYMNS FOR EASTER III I will Make you Fishers of Men/He Stood Beside the Lake
Text and Tune: Harry D. Clarke (1888-1957) I will make you fishers of men, (Because of copyright I can't put it here, but the words are pretty simple and you can hear them on the links below.) Text: Gracia Grindal Tune: James Clemens He stood beside the lake and said, “I am the shepherd, feed my lambs; Give them my Word, they will be fed. I am your God, the great I AM, And I will lead you to the spring That bubbles with the life I bring. I wondered where it all would end, But reaching out I followed him, I trusted him, my God and friend, Who was the new Jerusalem. And every step ahead I take I follow in his sparkling wake. So long ago, but now I see Ten thousand thousands round the Lamb The crystal stream, the living tree. The gate to life, the great I AM For he has opened heaven’s door To wonders never seen before! REFLECTIONS My four year old nephew, long ago, had a tape of Sunday School songs that he loved, especially this Sunday school song. He played it over and over and over. The young woman who was his baby sitter grew weary of hearing the tape playing this song on repeat over and over again, but it became a marker of the little boy’s life. There is something insistently charming about it and it bears repeating, almost like the Song that never ends. It is the essence of a good Sunday school song. With its repetitions and basic message, it is easy for kids to learn, and they love it. And it is pure Scripture. While Jesus in the text for this Sunday is not quite talking about being a fisherman to Peter, he is on a lake, and he has just told the disciples to let down their nets on the right side. When they do, they net a catch too great to haul in, 153 fish. And their nets do not break. They immediately suspect that the one on the beach is The Lord! After their breakfast, Jesus speaks especially to Peter. Do you love me? he asks three times, almost as if to erase the three denials of Peter on Holy Thursday. It grieves Peter, and he answers with increasing passion. Lord, you know everything, he finally says, and you know I love you. Feed my sheep, he then commands Peter. Three times. That is the calling that the pastor should hear as the main task of his or her ministry. Feed my sheep. That is not all that hard, the menu is pretty clear: the Word of God, in word and sacrament. I was talking to someone today who had noticed that a preacher she knew had stopped searching Scriptures for the word and seemed to be wandering off into other pastures. Like one saint who noted that when her preacher started talking about bird houses, she knew he had lost his faith. The operative word in Scripture and the Sunday school song is “make.” Georg Sverdrup (1848-1907) the long time president of Augsburg Seminary wrote a series of sermons on Matthew that I still find surprising. What he noted about Jesus’ request to Peter and Andrew was that if they followed him, he would “make” them fishers of men. He was not just going to send them out without training. He was going to create them to be missionaries. They would learn by following. And what they will learn by following Jesus is what to do as fishers of people. As Sverdrup says, you invite them with a friendly invitation to the banquet, to the wedding, for now all things are ready. Go out into the highways and byways, and invite them to come in. There is room enough for all. We cannot force people to become Christians. Jesus shows us that our work as disciples is simply to issue the invitation: Come, follow me. That is all we can do. The Spirit will work with those words and create faith in the one who has heard. It is for us to spread the word. Thus, Jesus could give this great commission to the simplest of folk on earth—fishermen, tax collectors, carpenters—earthen vessels. It is easy to issue an invitation, Come and see. We invite, he cooks dinner. When we speak his word, we invite people into a world of eternal pleasure and beauty which begins now. Simply by glimpsing a piece of it, Jesus knows, they will follow him eager, one day, to get the whole nine yards. What glory that will be! HYMN INFO Clarke, an orphan, escaped the orphanage where he had been put, and ran away to sea where he served for nearly ten years. Clarke lived in London and then came to America. After attending Moody Bible Institute, he became a composer and music publisher alongside his work as pastor. He became a close associate of Billy Sunday whom he came to admire. He built the Billy Sunday Memorial Chapel in Sioux City, Iowa. He served as pastor in the chapel until 1945. LINKS Christian Edition men's chorus https://youtu.be/Se8T9NPJHtU Children singing https://youtu.be/hn8to35LOj8 Rhonda Vincent and the Rage (Kind of a riff on fishers of men) https://youtu.be/0vY5gXnbBl0
EASTER II BREATHE ON ME BREATH OF GOD/ Christ Jesus Speaks and Life Comes forth from Death
Text: Edwin Hatch (1835-1889). Tune: Robert Jackson (1840-1914) 1 Breathe on me, Breath of God,
fill me with life anew,
that I may love the way you love,
and do what you would do. 2 Breathe on me, Breath of God,
until my heart is pure,
until my will is one with yours,
to do and to endure. 3 Breathe on me, Breath of God,
so shall I never die,
but live with you the perfect life
for all eternity. REFLECTION
Breath is life and when we breathe our last, the life has gone out of us and we have died. Scripture speaks of the breath of God or Jesus from the creation of Adam through the dry bones of Ezekiel until Jesus breathes his last, or breathes on the disciples and gives them the Spirit. The hymn writer writes of several of those moments in his very simple but elegant song. God’s breath renews our lives, it puts us at one with God, and it gives us eternal life. While the John account is the text for today, something of the same thing happens in all four gospels. This week our Bible study group looked more closely at Matthew’s account of Jesus’ death—when he yields up his Spirit, which he does with his last breath. I had never seen it quite as richly as the scholar Frederick Dale Bruner does. Bruner reads it to be Christ releasing his Spirit into the world, into us and all creation. His proof is all the things that happen immediately after that. It splits the temple curtain from top to bottom, the earth is shaken, rocks are split, tombs are opened, the bodies of saints are raised from their tombs, the centurion confesses that Jesus is surely the Son of God as over against his accusers who have mocked him for claiming he was the Son of God. And those with him are frightened. Only the women, his ministers, looking on seem not to be. These are God’s words to the cross, Bruner says. The Nicene Creed confesses that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. So here in Matthew we have the Spirit released from Jesus’ body into all the world. And where it goes, death, even the power of stone, is broken up, the earth shakes. What a story! Scripture gives us several pictures of Jesus giving us the Spirit and we see immediately the power that releases into the world, especially in the Acts account with the rushing wind and tongues of fire. All breath—the power of the wind coming over us. To describe this we have to give accounts of something that happened in our lives. To be quite literal, we can think of real wind in our lives. Once we had a visitor from the Willamette Valley where the weather is on the whole mild. She looked at our oak trees and noted how fresh and lively they looked compared to the oaks in Salem. She surmised that our gale force winds that came with blizzards and spring storms had cleaned them out and done a kind of pruning. It was a parable of what happens in our lives. The wind or breath of God storms through us and cleanses our dead branches and prunes them like the gardener wanting to save the tree which could only be done with pruning and digging around it. Many of us have stood beside a dying parent or friend and watched as the death rattle begins and the breath fails. The struggle is real. When it is over, the life is gone and the body quickly becomes something else. Unresponsive and hard. A medical student long ago once mused to me how delicate and fragile the body is when it is alive—and it is treated with the most tender care. But when the breath is gone, the remains are just that. It is also possible to think of that in our spiritual lives. We are like corpses often spiritually. We feel unresponsive and dead to the life around us. We need to be raised up from that death nearly every day. There can be something painful about being alive again. When we are quickened by the spirit, we are able to feel joy, but also pain. I like the word "quick." When one touches the quick of one’s fingernail, it hurts. We used to say in the Creed the “quick and the dead” which we changed to “living and dead.” Quick means a liveliness to all that is around us. Once I heard someone say they did not want to be raised from the dead because life was too painful and more of it was not appealing. He wanted to be put six feet under and lie there undisturbed forever. Even if he were alive at the time, he seemed dead to me. While I understood not wanting to feel pain and suffering any more, I want to be fully alive, truly alive. Paul puts it best in Romans 5:3, “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” The Spirit like a schoolteacher brings us through these awful times, giving us the strength to endure, and grow up, because we have the strength to hope. Faith and hope end when we die because now they are no longer needed. We will be living in the fire of love with our Lord, our faith proven and hope realized. The breath of God in us is God’s Spirit filling us with life, cleansing us like a rushing wind, and giving life to the tongues of fire burning in us. The temple curtain has been split and Jesus lives in us through his Spirit. Christ is risen! HYMN INFO Edwin Hatch was born in Derby and attended Pembroke College at Oxford. He served as Vice-Principal of St. Mary Hall, Oxford and later Rector of Purleigh. He wrote very few hymns, but this one has become a lasting contribution to hymns of Pentecost. His hymns texts appeared in a collection called Towards Fields of Light, 1890. There a several tunes for this, the most popular Trentham by Robert Jackson. Trained at the Royal Academy of Music, he played the organ at St. Peter's Church in Oldham for most of his life. My hymn on this topic can be found below. LINKS Northern Baptist Association https://youtu.be/MmkzSjs9eAw Christopher Brunelle to Jerusalem https://youtu.be/3lOV2pMOMcg MacKay United Church Choir https://youtu.be/lwl7-zhSEF8 The Orchard Enterprises https://youtu.be/_-2AOW1ZgW0
HYMN FOR EASTER Solen på Himmelen lukket sit øye/I Come to the Garden Alone
Text: Petter Dass Tune: Ansbach 1644 1. High in the heavens the Sun could not face it, Closing its eye to the shame of the cross. Nature stood by at these double disgraces, Darkness eclipsing the day over us. Then Easter Sunday, we saw reappearing Two glorious suns whose great loss we’d been fearing Hallelujah! Hallelujah! 2. After this sorrow we now are uplifted, Rainstorms are ended; the sun shines again. We name and praise you, the Lord who has given Joy with your rising. We see you have been Son of the Highest come here to redeem us So we can praise you the Son who reclaims us R/ 3. God does not reckon the days that we number Three days, and then he arose from the grave, Only those days in the darkness to slumber, No time, compared to eternity’s day. Joyfully we will with Jesus be buried; So we with Jesus forever can tarry R/ 4. Never do grains lie in earth without growing Soon we will see them arise from the earth. Though they are covered by winter’s fresh snowing Soon they will blossom, their glory burst forth When Christ will raise us that morning we’re bidden From the dark earth where our bodies are hidden, R/ 5. Just as the whale cast up Jonah on dry land, So shall the earth give up all of its dead. Since you, My Savior, rose up from the darkness, I shall be raised and go home where you led. Where there are roots that have grown into branches Fruitful and blest for the life you have granted. R/ Tr. Gracia Grindal Text and Tune: Charles Austin Miles (1868 – 1946) 1 I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses;
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses. R/And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known. 2 He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing;
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing. R/ 3 I'd stay in the garden with Him
Tho' the night around me be falling;
But He bids me go; thro' the voice of woe,
His voice to me is calling. R/ REFLECTIONS Two very different hymns on Easter, one by Petter Dass, a pastor in Norway, another by C. Austin Miles, an American, who wrote the very popular Gospel song, long derided by church musicians. Petter Dass was Norway’s great hymn writer. His hymns are filled with imagery of the North Sea and the land around him. His language is vivid and often astonishing. This hymn—in the original some twenty-three stanzas—is from Dass’ collection of hymns on Luther’s Catechism, this one on the Apostles Creed “Descended into hell and on the third day rose again from the dead.” Dass portrays Jesus as the Lion of Judah breaking into the portals of Hell, Harrowing hell, or like a “Heavenly Samson” tearing down the pillars in Gaza. Or David killing the lion with his bare hands or Goliath with a stone to his forehead. Dass uses Biblical types to show how Jesus is part of that story. This version of the hymn begins with the 18th stanza. Magnus Brostrup Landstad, the hymnal compiler of the 19th century in Norway, edited it to contain basically the last five stanzas of Dass’ hymn. He leaves off the harrowing of hell and goes directly to the resurrection of Jesus. Here Dass meditates on the double griefs of Good Friday—Nature stands in double disgrace seeing the cross and the darkness at noon, but also the double joy in the two suns of Easter--nature's sun and Jesus, the sun. Our own death and resurrection are like seeds dying in order to live, or even like Jonah, whom the fish spit up on to dry ground. We will be like branches growing on the tree. C. Austin Miles, in his hymn, “In the Garden,” depicts what the resurrection was like for Mary Magdalene, thinking her friend and Redeemer had been taken away, and then to hear his voice, and realize he is risen. Her joy shows us the joy we have in the resurrection. Because of its country western sound, and its language of love, the hymn has many detractors, but still remains at the top of the charts. The notion that Christ is our bridegroom and we all are his brides is deeply set in Scripture. Some scholars read the Bible as the story of God’s courtship of his people from Eden into eternity. Heaven, after all, is described as a wedding feast, the bridegroom welcoming home his bride, the church, to the banquet. For many this image is embarrassing. While I can understand that—the erotic language of the Bride of Christ is vivid—and yet, why should we not use the imagery of our closest human relationship, that of the bride and groom, to describe our relationship with Jesus? Weddings are new beginnings, two individuals now share each other's lives and destinies. So it is with our life in Christ. And even at its most joyful and sublime, this relationship is barely enough to describe what joy we will receive when Jesus meets us beside the tomb and calls us back into life. It will be “a joy that none other has ever known.” The poet and preacher struggle to preach the resurrection, hoping to revive our faith in it. At their best they have to use stories or hyperbole to get us to see Easter is more than flowers blooming in the spring, but something utterly new. John Updike's poem "Seven Stanzas at Easter" goes right after how we trivialize Easter into natural, or spiritualistic imagery. No, he says, "Make no mistake: if He rose at all/it was as His body." He goes on: "Let us not mock God with metaphor,/analogy, sidestepping, transcendence/ Making of the event a parable...." He ends admonishing us not to be "embarrassed by the miracle." https://www.poeticous.com/john-updike/seven-stanzas-at-easter Today as we sing with joy that Christ is risen, remember that nothing you hear or sing or say can come close to the joy we will know because of his resurrection. The fact is Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! HYMN INFO For more on Dass click here: https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-89-lord-our-god-with-praise-we-come-before-thee The tune is from Ansbach1644 and associated with the Freylinghausen hymnal of 1703 . C. Austin Miles, a pharmacist who turned to writing Gospel songs, many of them, wrote both text and tune which is the most popular of all Gospel songs today. LINKS Solen på himmelen lukket sitt øye/Oslo Domkor https://youtu.be/jhz_GTJyypk SKRUK https://youtu.be/rYXTWtpOj1w Variations on tune "Lobe den Herren" https://youtu.be/JVs1cCw_Edc In the Garden Thisisredz/Piano https://youtu.be/pWyufa8KTQs Mahalia Jackson https://youtu.be/_2eSfKqMRbA Elvis Presley https://youtu.be/VSU_nCYvOeU
HYMNS FOR PALM SUNDAY Sing, Hosanna, Sing for Jesus/Hosianna! Syng for Jesus/Sifted Like Wheat
Text: Eyvind Skeie Tune: Harald Herresthal 1. Sing hosanna! Sing for Jesus, King without a royal stead. See him riding on a donkey As the prophets once had said. 2. Sing hosanna! He is chosen And will die in agony. He will bear the wounds and sorrow That will set his people free. 3. Sing hosanna! It is Easter Jesus conquers death dot rise, Kindly come tovie to others, He will lay his powers by. 4. Sing hosanna! sing to Jesus As he lays his glory down, Nears the cross, and yes, his vict'try Where he glory will be shown. Tr. Gracia Grindal REFLECTIONS Palm Sunday gives me the willies. The grand processions with palm branches and the cries of Hosanna as we greet the king in all humility riding a donkey into the Holy City can be thrilling, but the Hosannas ring hollow. We know that in four short days, on Holy Thursday night, the crowds will turn against him and cry Crucify him! This meek king of love will be tortured and mocked and finally killed by the very same people who were singing Hosanna not long ago. The more I learn about Jesus and his passion, the less I think I have understood it. In the church we sometimes seem to think that he did all this for us, for church people who are trying to be decent and good, but the worst thing to know about the passion of Jesus is how everyone, absolutely everyone among his friends and enemies will fail him--that would include us. He knows this and still goes, his face set like flint, to Jerusalem, to the cross and to his death. He even tells them beforehand that his love is for them all. He is their servant, one who will die for them, and even as he is saying this, his betrayer is skulking out of the room. Poor Peter is warned not just of his denial, but how he will be sifted like wheat. The image of sifting as being part of the Christian life is an image of suffering or being purified. We sift the wheat to take out the impurities, so that only the pure grains remain, not the chaff. I remember just barely the winnowing machines on the farm that would send up bright golden chaff into the blue air of August as the grain was being winnowed. The grain needed to be pure so our food would be good and nutritious. For that to happen, there had to be sifting, winnowing, purification. In the olden days they would beat the grains free of the chaff. Do we see that in the soldiers beating Jesus like a grain of wheat? So when Jesus looks at Peter before prophesying his denial, he is looking with love at a man whose very character will cause him suffering, but who will be strengthened by this sifting. In the Lübben church in Germany, Paul Gerhardt's final call, there is a painting of Gerhardt pointing at the cross. Beneath him, are the words, A theologian sifted in the crib of Satan. And he surely was. He suffered much, the loss of his wife and children, the loss of his call when he opposed his prince, with little to sustain his mortal life. And yet he remained faithful, even in this sifting. Martin Luther in his marks of the church named suffering as the last mark of the church and the Christian. We don’t need to go looking for it, it will come. And the suffering we feel, even now as we face a future that is much more cloudy than we have faced in the past, we pray, will purify us so we can be stronger in our faith and Christian life. I am not recommending looking to suffer; it will come. I am simply describing it. This is what happens, there is no escaping it . Without suffering, we will never grow up. The saying that hard times make hard people and hard people make easy times and easy people make hard times seems the truth when we look at our parents who survived the Depression and Second World War to make a world of incredible and bountiful good for their children. Who look to have wasted it and created hard times for us all again. In any time, no matter how good or bad, none of us can escape the sifting, the suffering. We can endure it, however, because our Lord has entered the Holy City to save it and endure the indignities of the Passion and the cross even while we were enemies, to bring us out into the light for good. To follow Christ is to follow him through the valley of the shadow of death into green pastures. Praise him! HYMN INFO Eyvind Skeie is Norway's most prolific hymn writer today. This is one for Palm Sunday that is frequently used. Harald Herresthal taught at the Norwegian School of Music and influenced many young organists and composers. I wrote "Sifted like Wheat" for this Lukan text which begins a bit before Jesus triumphal entry. The image has always fascinated me and in a way been a comfort. LINKS Ann Mari Johnson https://youtu.be/uhpOmP08LfE Organ version, Elisabeth Seland https://youtu.be/2oqtU0tZN9o