At worship this week we will be hearing some of my favorite lessons from scripture and singing some of my favorite hymns. Yours too, I hope.
The scriptures are wonderful! The Old Testament lesson is Job 38:4-18. You will remember that Job suffered terribly after God gave Satan permission to test Job’s faith. Satan destroyed Job’s wealth, killed his children, and ruined his health. Job’s ever-supportive wife suggested he “Curse God and die”. Job never cursed God, but Job did keep insisting that he was innocent of any wrongdoing, that he didn’t deserve all that he was suffering, that if he was being punished for wrongdoing God wasn’t being fair because he hadn’t done anything wrong — and the reader knows that Job has NOT done anything wrong. Job is absolutely correct! The reader knows that Job IS the most righteous man of his generation. The reader knows that Job IS suffering everything he is suffering because Satan told God that the only reason Job was so righteous was because of how well God had rewarded him, so God told Satan he could take all of Job’s blessings away, “Just don’t kill him”. Job insists that he has done nothing to deserve what he is suffering, and the reader knows that Job is CORRECT. Finally, in Job 38, God comes to Job “in person.” Does He come with comfort? with apologies? with explanations? Not hardly. God comes with rhetorical questions for Job: “Where were YOU when I laid the foundations of the earth? TELL Me if you know so much.” We ask “Why is life so hard for me?” And God replies,”You just have to trust Me to know how to run the universe better than you.” God doesn’t come with explanations, apologies, or even comfort. He simply comes as God Himself, in person. (Why is that so strangely comforting?)
The Psalm is Psalm 18:1-16, which is my favorite psalm! “I love You, Lord, my strength! The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. I will call upon the Lord , who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies!” And it goes on and gets better! The antiphon we will be singing over and over is “The Lord has delivered me from my strong enemies”. This is the wonderful psalm that praises God for “With the pure, You show Yourself pure; and with the devious You show Yourself crafty.” (v. 26)
The Epistle is Romans 10:5-17, which I have chosen as the Second Lesson for my own funeral: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But how are they to call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news.” I love this text!
And this week’s Gospel lesson is one of my absolute favorite stories in the entire Bible: Jesus scares the disciples to death by walking on the water near their boat. They think He is a ghost. I will be preaching on this text.
The hymns are wonderful! Alas, if you are a subscriber to my blog, the YouTube videos will not have made the transition into your inbox — why, I do not know. But if you click on the title of this blog, you will be taken directly to the Holy Trinity website where you can watch the videos.
The Processional Hymn is the much-beloved “What a Fellowship, What a Joy Divine“.
The Hymn of the Day is “Eternal Father Strong to Save.” This particular version so moved me that it made me cry as I watched it. (There I was, sitting in my office weeping.) “Oh hear us when we cry to Thee for those in peril on the sea!”
The Distribution Hymn is “To God the Holy Spirit Let Us Pray” This wonderful hymn is by Martin Luther. And I really like this version! Just listen to these splendid words:
The Recessional Hymn is “My Life FLows On In Endless Song.” I found a terrific video of this amazing hymn. This anthem is introduced by a woman who reminds us that of the 5,400 species that sing, only one sings together: us. The introduction alone is worth listening to — but then along comes the anthem, combining chimes, handbells, orchestration, pipes, choir and congregation!
These hymns and lessons remind us that no matter what happens, we were made for eternity, we have been redeemed, and the Creator of the Universe loves us. No other species can sing together — we alone were created with this skill. I doubt that there is any special evolutionary reason why we have this ability. So no matter what the situation in our personal lives (like Job) or worldwide (like the North Korean test launches) let’s use our ability to sing together to praise our God. I hope to see you at worship!