Hurry and Take Time To Be Holy
2009-03-26 by David Howell

After a lengthy sermon and noting that it was past the noon hour, I announced that we should sing the first and last verses of "Take Time To Be Holy".



A (Not So) Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Pulpit
2009-03-26 by Paul Janssen

This blogger is soliciting stories, advice, etc. re: a situation that arose with this week's sermon.

As I developed thoughts about this week's text, I began leaning toward the necessity to pray for God to be God rather than for God to "save me."  (I don't imagine Jesus was talking about being saved in the way we talk about being saved. He must have been thinking about rescue)

I don't usually exercise tight coordination with my music director.  I figure that people come with a variety of needs, and if where they're aching isn't where I'm rubbing, they're going to walk out with no relief.  So a bit of broad spectrum usually suits.   Besides,  my music director's insights are generally spot-on when it comes to choosing anthems.  Only one other time, when I was preaching on "Faith without works is dead" did we have a real clinker -- he chose a solo entitled "Faith, Only Faith." 

This week, as I prepare to say that there's a prayer we ought to pray prior to "rescue me," the music director picked an anthem that repeats "save us", over and over again.  He has graciously (if not happily) agreed to change the anthem to a tried and true one that fits better. 

Have you hit this situation before?  Any stories to tell?





Our Guest Blogger and Glorification vs. Salvation
2009-03-25 by David von Schlichten

Thank you to Paul for his extensive blog entries. He provides a helpful list of sermonic images and themes from the gospel, as well as stimulating, even a bit unsettling (in a good way), thoughts about one putting aside one's salvation for the sake of glorifying God. Such is the case with Jesus in John; he does not ask the Father to save him from this hour but for that which glorifies God.

I recall that simple but complex petition from the Lord's Prayer: "Thy will be done."

 

On another note, I won't be giving a traditional sermon this Sunday. Instead, I will do a two-part monologue in wihch I will pretend to be Peter. I will recall my experiences with Jesus; then, on Passion Sunday, I will focus on Christ's suffering. My hope is that this monologue will help people to hear anew the Passion.

Nevertheless, I savor our guest blogger's thoughts and invite others to contribute, for I am

Yours in Christ, 

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator 





Praying for Salvation or Glorification?
2009-03-25 by Paul Janssen

After a few days' rumination, I'm feeling tugged in the direction of what I called earlier the soul-conversation.  Nearly everyone can identify with "Now is my soul troubled".  Our quick response to the troubled soul is "Save me!"  We're uncomfortable; we want to move away from that uncomfortable place.  But now may not be the time to pray "save me."  Maybe there's a prayer that takes priority.

So here's now the story goes.  In John's version of the story, Jesus rides into Jerusalem.  The crowd cries "Hosanna!" In English, "Save now!"  (They had heard of Jesus raising Lazarus and wanted a little life-after-death action for themselves.)

Some Greeks come to Jesus.  Word gets to him.  Now, at long last, Jesus says "The hour has come."  Remember, he'd said before that the hour had NOT come.  Well, now it's come.  The hour of glorification.

But glorification entails losing life; falling into the earth and dying.

Jesus speaks:  "Now my soul is troubled."  (Well, yeah, a teenager might say.) But here's the kicker:  We'd pray "save me!"  Jesus says, "And what shall I say?  Father, save me from this hour?  No, for this purpose I have come to this hour.  Father, glorify thy name."

The prayer for God's glorification takes priority over Jesus' desire to be relieved from a troubled soul. 

There's an old saw about examinations for ordination in the Reformed tradition.  In the course of interrogation about predestination (in whatever form), the interrogator would ask "would you be eternally damned if it served the glory of God?"  The "right" answer, of course, was "yes."  Soli deo gloria.  Only God is to be glorified.

Popular culture offers up the line from "Man of La Mancha."  "To be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause...."  Is this what Jesus is after?

Is it what we're after?  If God is to be glorified in my hour of trial ("In the Hour of Trial" is hard to find in contemporary hymnbooks), what does that mean for my desire for relief?  Is a prayer for salvation a me- directed prayer?

Next week is the time to sing and shout "Hosanna."  Later, the time comes to pray "save me."  First, though, the prayer is -- "Glorify thy name."

Another way to put it:  In times of turmoil, maybe the trusting prayer isn't so much "God, take care of me, because I know you can."  Maybe it's "God, be God, because I know you're good."

Just some thoughts as the week progresses toward writing.  Who knows where the wind will blow next?

 





Our guest preaching blogger this week is
2009-03-22 by David Howell

The Reverend Paul G. Janssen who has served as the Pastor and Teacher of Pascack Reformed Church in Park Ridge, New Jersey, since 1991. Aside from the 'meat and potatoes' of pastoral work, he has represented the RCA in several national and international ecumenical ventures. He has also written numerous hymns and anthems for congregational use, and served as Coordinator of Worship for the RCA from 2004-2007. See his first post below.




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