October 26, 2020

All Saints Communion Prayer

Eternal God, author of life abundant,
we thank you for the cloud of witnesses
who make the mysterious heaven
a home for our hearts.
Before you,
we remember those faces we love
and those spirits we treasure.

At radiant dawn and in the quiet of dusk,
we remember them.

Under summer skies with shimmering fields,
we remember them.

At the falling of autumn
with trees glad in gold,

God's Footstool

Extol the Lord our God; worship at his footstool. Holy is he!  
Ps 99:5 

When King David centralized political power, he also consolidated religious practice, making Jerusalem the seat both of government and of all sacrifice. The One God was no longer to be directly approached on whatever high place an individual chose, but only in the tabernacle (tent of meeting), which had found a home on Mount Zion. After David's death, his son Solomon built a permanent temple, which was said to be God's dwelling place on earth.

When humans designate some places as holier than others, there suddenly exists a grave danger of idolatry. Holy shrines naturally require special treatment. And once I begin to treat a place as special, then I quickly begin to imagine that that place's holiness is an end unto itself, forgetting what it

October 25, 2020

Reformation Sunday

Today we commemorate the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. The message is the second in a sermon mini-series on Luke 17:11-19, with this week's emphasis on the priesthood of all believers. A Mighty Fortress is featured twice, once as a hymn, and in the end as the postlude (as a theme in Mendelssohn's Reformation Symphony). Here's the order of worship in the video:
  • 00:00 Chimes
  • 00:34 Welcome
  • 02:13 Hymn: A Mighty Fortress
  • 06:30 Call to Worship: Psalm 46.1-5
  • 07:05 Opening Prayer

My Perception of God

The Lord is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples.
Ps 99:2

Hebrew poetry contains parallel clauses, and we see that technique here in Psalm 99:2. God is great in the first clause, and the parallel, God is exalted (Hebrew רָם, lit. high) in the second. This is to be expected. But the story for me here is in the prepositions. God is great/exalted in both clauses, but God is in Zion and over all people.

There really is a difference here, for God in Zion is God in the midst of God's people. At times, such as in Psalm 98, the people rejoice at God's presence. We also see this in Isaiah 12:6, which might serve as a bridge between these two consecutive psalms: Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel. The God that is in the midst of

October 24, 2020

With Equity

Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.  
Ps 98:8-9 

Psalm 98 is a beautiful and joyful psalm, and you'd think it would be put to great use in the church. But as many times as this psalm might possibly be used in worship, the smaller or less liturgically minded church that uses the lectionary will seldom have occasion to sing or read it. That's because Psalm 98 almost always plays second fiddle. It's used in the Easter vigil, it's used during the third service of Christmas, it's used for Holy Cross day in September, and it's used as the alternate psalm for a couple of Sundays in