Category Archives: Uncategorized

Digital Worship January 29, 2023

There is only one worship option this week since Rejoice is now using five Sunday months as an opportunity to do a combined worship. We will return to our normal options next week. Sermon apart from the rest of the service is embedded at the bottom of the page.

4th Sunday after Epiphany, January 29, 2023

Welcome:

Second song: “All the People Said Amen”

You are not alone, if you are lonely
When you feel afraid, you’re not the only
 We are all the same, in need of mercy 
To be forgiven and be free
It’s all you got to lean on,
But thank God it’s all you need
 
And all the people said “Amen” – woah 
And all the people said “Amen” 
Give thanks to the Lord for His love never ends 
And all the people said “Amen”
 
If you’re rich or poor, well it don’t matter 
Weak or strong, you know love is what we’re after 
We’re all broken, but we’re all in this together 
 
God knows we stumble and fall
And He so loved the world
He sent His Son to save us all
 
And all the people said “Amen” – woah 
And all the people said “Amen” 
Give thanks to the Lord for His love never ends 
And all the people said “Amen”
 
Blessed are the poor in spirit, who are torn apart
Blessed are the persecuted and the pure in heart
Blessed are the people hungry for another start
For this is the kingdom – the kingdom of God

Prayer of the Day

Holy God, you confound the world’s wisdom in giving your kingdom to the lowly and the pure in heart. Give us such a hunger and thirst for justice, and perseverance in striving for peace, that in our words and deeds the world may see the life of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

First Reading: Micah 6: 1-8

1Hear what the Lord says:
  Rise, plead your case before the mountains,
  and let the hills hear your voice.
2Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the Lord,
  and you enduring foundations of the earth;
 for the Lord has a controversy with his people,
  and he will contend with Israel.
3“O my people, what have I done to you?
  In what have I wearied you? Answer me!
4For I brought you up from the land of Egypt,
  and redeemed you from the house of slavery;
 and I sent before you Moses,
  Aaron, and Miriam.
5O my people, remember now what King Balak of Moab devised,
  what Balaam son of Beor answered him,
 and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal,
  that you may know the saving acts of the Lord.”
6“With what shall I come before the Lord,
  and bow myself before God on high?
 Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
  with calves a year old?
7Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
  with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
 Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
  the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
8He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
  and what does the Lord require of you
 but to do justice, and to love kindness,
  and to walk humbly with your God?

Psalm: Psalm 15

 1O LORD, who may abide in your tent?
 Who may dwell on your holy hill?
 2Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right,
 and speak the truth from their heart;
 3who do not slander with their tongue,
 and do no evil to their friends,
 nor take up a reproach against their neighbors;
 4in whose eyes the wicked are despised,
 but who honor those who fear the LORD;
 who stand by their oath even to their hurt;
 5who do not lend money at interest,
 and do not take a bribe against the innocent.
 Those who do these things shall never be moved.

  Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1: 18-31

18For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

19For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.26Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, 29so that no one might boast in the presence of God. 30He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Gospel: Matthew 5: 1-12

1When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Sermon: Pastor Neil White

Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Assisting Minister

Let us pray:

Creating God, source of all life, we rejoice in the incredible creation that you have given us to watch over. As you continue to renew your creation day by day we ask that you grant both your people and leaders, global and local, a heart to care for the earth. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord God, ruler of all the earth, where nations and communities yearn for peace and justice we ask for your steadfast love and righteousness to guide those working for peace. Watch over those who dedicate their lives to the protection and service of others including: Ben, Brycen, Christian, Clayton, Daniel, Dillan, Ethan, Evan, Luke, Michael, Spencer, Sydney, Tyler B. and Tyler G. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Healing God look on your children with compassion and ease the suffering of those dealing with emotional or physical pain. Have your healing hand upon:  Addison, Aubrey, Avery, Betsy, Billie, Bob, Brenda, Campbell, Carleen, Cohen, Dennis, Denver, Donna, Donny,  Eliza, Gary, Jamie, Jan,  Judy, Laurie, Linda, Maddie, Maureen, Melissa, Mike, Patrick, Roger, Sandy, Tom and Wayne and console the friends and family of Chris Lensvaart

Lord, we pray for the ministries of the ELCA and the Northern Texas – Northern Louisiana Synod, we also lift up in prayer today: Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Grand Prairie, Umoja International Mission Lutheran Church, Fort Worth, and First Call Theological Accompaniment.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Leader: In trust and hope, we commend to you, O Lord, all for whom we pray. Amen.

Sharing of the Peace

Highlights

Offering Offering may be given in the offering plate or electronically through the Tithe.ly app. If you want to honor your electronic gift during the offering there are cards on the usher’s table for that purpose.

Words of Institution

Lord’s Prayer

 Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Post Communion Prayer

A: Let us pray.Let us pray.  O God, with this meal you have united us with Christ and also with each other.  Send us now in the power of your Spirit, that we may reflect your love to the world through the power of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen 

Blessing

Closing Song: “Your Grace is Enough”

Great is Your faithfulness, O God;
You wrestle with the sinner’s heart.
You lead us by still waters and to mercy
And nothing can keep us apart.
 
So, remember Your people,
Remember Your children,
Remember Your promise, O God.
 Your Grace is enough,
Your Grace is enough,
Your Grace is enough for me.
 
Great is Your love and justice, God
You use the weak to lead the strong.
 You lead us in the song of Your salvation,
And all Your people sing along.
 
So, remember Your people,
Remember Your children,
Remember Your promise, O God.
 Your Grace is enough,
Your Grace is enough,
Your Grace is enough for me.
 
Your Grace is enough,
Your Grace is enough,
Your Grace is enough for me.
 So, remember Your people,
Remember Your children,
Remember Your promise, O God.
 Your Grace is enough,
Your Grace is enough,
Your Grace is enough for me.
Yeah, Your grace is enough;
Heaven reaching down to us.
Your grace is enough for me.
God I see.
 
Your grace is enough,
I’m covered in your love.
Your grace is enough for me.
For me.

DiscipleLife

L:    As God has claimed us as his own in Christ,

       we seek to follow Christ with these marks of DiscipleLife:

§Praying Daily

§Worshiping Weekly

§Studying the Bible

§Serving Others

§Building Spiritual Friendships

§Giving to God and our Neighbors in Need

§Engaging God’s Mission

Dismissal: “Go in peace, serve the Lord. Thanks be to God” Alleluia

Digital Worship January 22, 2023

Both the contemporary online service and the sermon from this service are embedded at the bottom of the post.

3rd Sunday after Epiphany, January 22, 2023

If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Let us confess our sin to God who is faithful and just and who has promised to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Silence for reflection and self-examination

Most merciful God, have mercy on us. We confess to you that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not trusted you with our whole heart; we have not loved one another in deed and in truth. In your compassion forgive our sin and uphold us by your Spirit that we may live and serve you in newness of life through Jesus Christ our light and our truth. Amen.

With joy, I proclaim to you that Almighty God, rich in mercy, abundant in love, forgives you all your sin and grants you newness of life in Jesus Christ.

Thanks be to God!

Greeting:

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Prayer of the Day

 Lord God, your lovingkindness always goes before us and follows after us. Summon us into your light, and direct our steps in the ways of goodness that come through the cross of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

First Reading: Isaiah 9: 1-4

1 But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
 2 The people who walked in darkness
 have seen a great light;
 those who lived in a land of deep darkness —
 on them light has shined.
 3You have multiplied the nation,
 you have increased its joy;
 they rejoice before you
 as with joy at the harvest,
 as people exult when dividing plunder.
 4For the yoke of their burden,
 and the bar across their shoulders,
 the rod of their oppressor,
 you have broken as on the day of Midian.

Psalm: Psalm 27: 1,4-9

 1The LORD is my light and my salvation;
 whom shall I fear?
 The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
 of whom shall I be afraid?
 4One thing I asked of the LORD,
 that will I seek after:
 to live in the house of the LORD
 all the days of my life,
 to behold the beauty of the LORD,
 and to inquire in his temple.
 5For he will hide me in his shelter
 in the day of trouble;
 he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
 he will set me high on a rock.
 6Now my head is lifted up
 above my enemies all around me,
 and I will offer in his tent
 sacrifices with shouts of joy;
 I will sing and make melody to the LORD.
 7Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud,
 be gracious to me and answer me!
 8“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”
 Your face, LORD, do I seek.
 9Do not hide your face from me.
 Do not turn your servant away in anger,
 you who have been my help.
 Do not cast me off, do not forsake me,
 O God of my salvation!

 Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1: 10-18

10Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. 11For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. 12What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” 13Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16(I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.
18For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Gospel: Matthew 4: 12-23

12Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. 13He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
 15“Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
 on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles —
 16the people who sat in darkness
 have seen a great light,
 and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
 light has dawned.”
17From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
18As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea — for they were fishermen. 19And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” 20Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
23Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.

Sermon: Pastor Neil White

Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Assisting Minister

Let us pray:

Creating God, source of all life, we rejoice in the incredible creation that you have given us to watch over. As you continue to renew your creation day by day we ask that you grant both your people and leaders, global and local, a heart to care for the earth. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord God, ruler of all the earth, where nations and communities yearn for peace and justice we ask for your steadfast love and righteousness to guide those working for peace. Watch over those who dedicate their lives to the protection and service of others including: Ben, Brycen, Christian, Clayton, Daniel, Dillan, Ethan, Evan, Luke, Michael, Spencer, Sydney, Tyler B. and Tyler G. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Healing God look on your children with compassion and ease the suffering of those dealing with emotional or physical pain. Have your healing hand upon:  Addison, Aubrey, Avery, Betsy, Billie, Bob, Brenda, Campbell, Carleen, Cohen, Dennis, Denver, Donna, Donny,  Eliza, Gary, Jamie, Jan,  Judy, Laurie, Linda, Maddie, Maureen, Melissa, Mike, Patrick, Roger, Sandy, Tom and Wayne and console the friends and family of Joyce Anderson and Chris Lensvaart

Lord, we pray for the ministries of the ELCA and the Northern Texas – Northern Louisiana Synod, we also lift up in prayer today: Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Grand Prairie, Umoja International Mission Lutheran Church, Fort Worth, and First Call Theological Accompaniment.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Leader: In trust and hope, we commend to you, O Lord, all for whom we pray. Amen.

Sharing of the Peace

Highlights

Offering Offering may be given in the offering plate or electronically through the Tithe.ly app. If you want to honor your electronic gift during the offering there are cards on the usher’s table for that purpose.

Words of Institution

Lord’s Prayer

 Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Post Communion Prayer

A: Let us pray. Lord Jesus, in this sacrament you strengthen us with the saving power of your death and resurrection. May these gifts of your body and blood create in us the fruits of your redemption and grace in our lives, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Blessing

DiscipleLife

L:    As God has claimed us as his own in Christ,

       we seek to follow Christ with these marks of DiscipleLife:

§Praying Daily

§Worshiping Weekly

§Studying the Bible

§Serving Others

§Building Spiritual Friendships

§Giving to God and our Neighbors in Need

§Engaging God’s Mission

Dismissal: “Go in peace, serve the Lord. Thanks be to God” Alleluia

1 Kings 6 The Construction of Solomon’s Temple

The Temple by Radojavor@deviantart.com

1 Kings 6

1 In the four hundred eightieth year after the Israelites came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, he began to build the house of the LORD. 2 The house that King Solomon built for the LORD was sixty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high. 3 The vestibule in front of the nave of the house was twenty cubits wide, across the width of the house. Its depth was ten cubits in front of the house. 4 For the house he made windows with recessed frames. 5 He also built a structure against the wall of the house, running around the walls of the house, both the nave and the inner sanctuary; and he made side chambers all around. 6 The lowest story was five cubits wide, the middle one was six cubits wide, and the third was seven cubits wide; for around the outside of the house he made offsets on the wall in order that the supporting beams should not be inserted into the walls of the house.

7 The house was built with stone finished at the quarry, so that neither hammer nor ax nor any tool of iron was heard in the temple while it was being built.

8 The entrance for the middle story was on the south side of the house: one went up by winding stairs to the middle story, and from the middle story to the third. 9 So he built the house, and finished it; he roofed the house with beams and planks of cedar. 10 He built the structure against the whole house, each story five cubits high, and it was joined to the house with timbers of cedar.

11 Now the word of the LORD came to Solomon, 12 “Concerning this house that you are building, if you will walk in my statutes, obey my ordinances, and keep all my commandments by walking in them, then I will establish my promise with you, which I made to your father David. 13 I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel.”

14 So Solomon built the house, and finished it. 15 He lined the walls of the house on the inside with boards of cedar; from the floor of the house to the rafters of the ceiling, he covered them on the inside with wood; and he covered the floor of the house with boards of cypress. 16 He built twenty cubits of the rear of the house with boards of cedar from the floor to the rafters, and he built this within as an inner sanctuary, as the most holy place. 17 The house, that is, the nave in front of the inner sanctuary, was forty cubits long. 18 The cedar within the house had carvings of gourds and open flowers; all was cedar, no stone was seen. 19 The inner sanctuary he prepared in the innermost part of the house, to set there the ark of the covenant of the LORD. 20 The interior of the inner sanctuary was twenty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and twenty cubits high; he overlaid it with pure gold. He also overlaid the altar with cedar. 21 Solomon overlaid the inside of the house with pure gold, then he drew chains of gold across, in front of the inner sanctuary, and overlaid it with gold. 22 Next he overlaid the whole house with gold, in order that the whole house might be perfect; even the whole altar that belonged to the inner sanctuary he overlaid with gold.

23 In the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim of olivewood, each ten cubits high. 24 Five cubits was the length of one wing of the cherub, and five cubits the length of the other wing of the cherub; it was ten cubits from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other. 25 The other cherub also measured ten cubits; both cherubim had the same measure and the same form. 26 The height of one cherub was ten cubits, and so was that of the other cherub. 27 He put the cherubim in the innermost part of the house; the wings of the cherubim were spread out so that a wing of one was touching the one wall, and a wing of the other cherub was touching the other wall; their other wings toward the center of the house were touching wing to wing. 28 He also overlaid the cherubim with gold.

29 He carved the walls of the house all around about with carved engravings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers, in the inner and outer rooms. 30 The floor of the house he overlaid with gold, in the inner and outer rooms.

31 For the entrance to the inner sanctuary he made doors of olivewood; the lintel and the doorposts were five-sided. 32 He covered the two doors of olivewood with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers; he overlaid them with gold, and spread gold on the cherubim and on the palm trees.

33 So also he made for the entrance to the nave doorposts of olivewood, four-sided each, 34 and two doors of cypress wood; the two leaves of the one door were folding, and the two leaves of the other door were folding. 35 He carved cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers, overlaying them with gold evenly applied upon the carved work. 36 He built the inner court with three courses of dressed stone to one course of cedar beams.

37 In the fourth year the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid, in the month of Ziv. 38 In the eleventh year, in the month of Bul, which is the eighth month, the house was finished in all its parts, and according to all its specifications. He was seven years in building it.

The construction of the temple of Solomon in Jerusalem is a central event in the narration of the story of Israel. For the era this temple is a massive building roughly one hundred five feet long, thirty feet wide and forty-five feet tall. It is twice the length and breadth of the tabernacle and three times as tall with ten times the internal space which is correspondingly lit by ten menorahs. (Israel, 2013, pp. 177-179) It is a project of impressive scope and a phenomenal investment of resources for this relatively young and small monarchy, and it is a project which will be a central part of Jerusalem for around four hundred years.

Theologically the completion of the temple is viewed as a completion of the promises God made to the people when they left Egypt. Calendars are important in Hebrew thought and the four hundred eighty years is significant as the multiple of twelve and forty. Twelve is of course the number of tribes of Israel while forty is often a number of completion (forty days and forty nights of rain, forty years in the wilderness) and forty years is often viewed as the length of a generation in the bible. Now twelve generations later the nation has reached its adulthood and is building a permanent home for its God in the promised land.

The act of constructing the temple concentrates the resources of the nation into this great project, and yet despite the grandeur of the temple God’s presence within this space is contingent upon obedience to the statutes, ordinances, and commandments of God. The pious act of constructing the temple and offering sacrifices is never sufficient to replace covenant obedience to the God of Israel. Like the tabernacle it is to be a place where God can dwell among God’s people, but God’s presence and blessing require fidelity.

The design and construction of the temple is similar to other religious sites excavated in the Middle East, and it is likely that Solomon uses the worship sites of other nations as a guide for the construction of the temple in Jerusalem. Especially with craftsmen sent from Tyre, it is likely that lessons learned in construction of other sites are applied to this project. As a project showing Solomon’s devotion to the LORD, it likely uses the best of design and knowledge to build a structure that will endure.

Evaluating the construction of the temple often depends upon the perspective one examines it from. For much of the history of both Judaism and Christianity holy spaces were constructed to bring a small piece of heaven to earth. If one enters a Catholic cathedral you see the evidence of the very best resources of the people being brought together to create a beautiful space where God’s presence might be encountered in the beauty of the space. The Protestant Reformation with its democratization of space often constructed worship sites that were much more austere and functional rather than beautiful and awe inspiring. The lavish use of gold and cedar in the temple of Jerusalem is designed to be an awe-inspiring space which reflects its place as a place where God’s name can dwell.

First Kings views the construction of the temple as a high point in the reign of Solomon and of the people of Israel in general. There is the subtle critique of placing too much focus on the temple at the expense of covenant fidelity as well as a subtle questioning of the deal that Solomon makes to acquire the resources for the temple in the previous chapter. Yet, the completion of the temple in all its majesty is viewed as an accomplishment for both Solomon and the people. This massive temple with its ornate doors, gold plated walls, and massive gold covered cherubim is a place where God can be present among the people. Its completion at the end of seven years (also a theologically significant number) and its overall evaluation of being perfect is representative the building’s calling to be a place where God’s presence can be encountered.

Online Video Study of the Book of Philippians: Chapter 3

St. Paul Writing His Epistles probably by Valentin de Boulogne (1618-1620)

I created this for my congregation as a summer study on the book of Philippians. It is more of a devotional with a short reflection on a couple verses each day. This is the second chapter of Philippians, below is a link to the other chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Day 16: Philippians 3: 1b-4a

Day 17: Philippians 3: 4b-6

Day 18: Philippians 3: 7-11

Day 19: Philippians 3: 12-16

Day 20: Philippians 3: 17-4:1

Online Video Study on the Book of Philippians: Chapter 2

St. Paul Writing His Epistles probably by Valentin de Boulogne (1618-1620)

I created this for my congregation as a summer study on the book of Philippians. It is more of a devotional with a short reflection on a couple verses each day. This is the second chapter of Philippians, below is a link to the other chapters

Chapter 1

Day 9: Philippians 2: 1-4

Day 10: Philippians 2: 5-8

Day 11: Philippians 2: 9-11

Day 12: Philippians 2: 12-13

Day 13: Philippians 2: 14-18

Day 14: Philippians 2: 19-24

Day 15: Philippians 2: 25- 3:1a

Online Video Study on the Book of Philippians: Chapter 1

St. Paul Writing His Epistles probably by Valentin de Boulogne (1618-1620)

I created this for my congregation as a summer study on the book of Philippians. It is more of a devotional with a short reflection on a couple verses each day.

Day 1: Philippians 1: 1-2

Day 2: Philippians 1: 3-6

Day 3: Philippians 1: 7-11

Day 4: Philippians 1: 12-14

Day 5: Philippians 1: 15-18

Day 6: Philippians 1: 18b-20

Day 7: Philippians 1: 20-26

Psalm 67 A Blessing For The Earth

Psalm 67

<To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song.>

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
 2 that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.
       3 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
                4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the       nations upon earth. Selah
       5 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
 6 The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us.
7 May God continue to bless us; let all the ends of the earth revere him.

The Jewish[1] sense of being chosen by God involves a paradox between the universalism of God’s bounty over all the earth and the particularism of their specific role and responsibility within God’s greater action on behalf of the world and the nations. They are to be a ‘treasured possession, a priestly kingdom, and a holy nation,’ (Exodus 19: 5-6) but like their ancestor Abraham, “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12: 3) Central to the theology of the psalms, and the entire scriptures, is the audacious claim that the particular God they worship is the God of all creation. This small nation, which are descendants of slaves in Egypt, and never emerges as major player on the world stage somehow trusts that the covenantal life they live will be a witness for all the nations to see and it will testify to the universal reign of the God they worship.

The psalm is structured as a chiasm[2] with verse four as the center. This central point focuses on the universal reign and worship of their God. This universal reign is to be demonstrated by the praise of all the peoples. This idea is echoed in several other places in scripture either in relation to the God of Israel (Exodus 9:16, Psalm 22: 27-28, Isaiah 2: 2-4; 19: 23-34; 49: 5-7) or Jesus. (Matthew 28:18, Philippians 2: 10-11) The petition at the beginning of the psalm that God may bless us (echoing the priestly blessing of Numbers 6: 24-26 but now placing it in the voice of the people rather than the priest) is paired with the hope that through this blessing God’s way make be known upon the earth and God’s saving power among the nations. The Psalm mirrors this request by announcing that God has blessed and the earth yields its harvest (increase) and in God’s continued action of blessing the people of Israel the ends of the earth will revere God.

This idea of election or calling of the people of God for the sake of the rest of the earth makes a more gracious view of those who believe and act differently available for the chosen people. God’s blessing on the earth and the nations does not depend upon the conversion or subjugation of those nations. Even if these Gentiles or unbelievers do not ‘know’ that it is God at work, the covenant people know and celebrate this. This is a part of the mystery of God’s strange and gracious way upon the earth. God can act through a foreigner like Cyrus in Isaiah 45: 1-5 to bring about a blessing for the covenant people. As Jesus can state in Matthew’s gospel, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5: 44-45) These followers of God are to live in gratitude for the blessings that God sends both to them and the unrighteous, to those who are a part of the covenant people and the ones beyond the boundaries of their faith or nation. They continue to pray for God’s blessings not only on themselves but also for the whole world. God’s special consideration of the covenant people somehow, in the mystery of God’s steadfast love, is a part of God’s establishing justice for all the people and a way in which God provides guidance for all the earth.

 

[1] This also applies to the Christian sense of being chosen or calling.

[2] A Chiasm is a poetic and literary structure where ideas and often vocabulary is mirrored around a central point. I have indented the psalm to show this structure where vs. 1-2 are mirrored by 6-7, vs. 3 and 5 are identical copies and verse four stands as the focal point.

Psalm 66 Formed by Steadfast Love

Grigory Mekheev, Exodus (2000) artist shared work under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

Psalm 66

<To the leader. A Song. A Psalm.>

1 Make a joyful[1] noise to God, all the earth;
2 sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise.
3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! Because of your great power, your enemies cringe before you.
4 All the earth worships you; they sing praises to you, sing praises to your name.” Selah
5 Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds among mortals.
6 He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot. There we rejoiced in him,
7 who rules by his might forever, whose eyes keep watch on the nations — let the rebellious not exalt themselves. Selah
8 Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard,
9 who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.
10 For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.
11 You brought us into the net; you laid burdens on our backs;
12 you let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.
13 I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will pay you my vows,
14 those that my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
15 I will offer to you burnt offerings of fatlings, with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams; I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah
16 Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me.
17 I cried aloud to him, and he was extolled with my tongue.
18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
19 But truly God has listened; he has given heed to the words of my prayer.
20 Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me.

For the Hebrew people the Exodus is the defining narrative that informs their life as the people of God. Without God’s action to bring them out of Egypt, through the wilderness, and into the promised land they are not a people of their own, merely slaves of the great Egyptian empire. Central to their faith is the trust that God acted in mighty ways to deliver their ancestors in the past and that God continues to act in ways to protect, preserve, purify, and refine so that they might be a treasured possession, a priestly kingdom, and a holy nation. (Exodus 19: 5-6) The people of God participate with the rest of creation in bearing witness to not only the mighty deeds of God but the careful formation of this people into something precious.

The previous psalm ended with the valleys and meadows shouting for joy and singing and now Psalm 66 begins with the imperative for all the earth to shout to God. God’s name and God’s power are lifted up as reasons for that praise and both friend and foe recognize the power of God. The initial stanza of this psalm joins together the voices of humanity with the voices of the creation in an exultant praise of God’s glory and strength while the second stanza invites the hearer to learn the specific actions that the psalmist views as praiseworthy. The invitation to come and see God’s awesome deeds takes the listener to the exodus narrative where God turned the Red Sea into dry land for Israel to cross and, before their entry into the promised land, God does the same with the Jordan river. These actions to bring the people out of Egypt and into the promised land demonstrate for the speaker God’s rule over the nations and God’s ability to execute justice throughout the world. The rebellious ones find themselves overwhelmed by God’s judgment like Korah and the leaders he assembled to confront Moses. (Numbers 16)

The work of God is not completed with the rescue of the people but it continues with the formation of this people to become the holy nation they are set aside to be. The other nations are invited to observe the way that the God of Israel is at work testing and refining the people, training them as one would train an athlete or soldier by giving them additional burdens to bear, and passing them through fire and water that they might be who they were created to be. As Beth Tanner can observe, “The world is eavesdropping on Israel’s formation as God’s people.” (Nancy deClaisse-Walford 2014, 535) The speaker does not resent this formation but rather praises God because of it. God has shaped and formed them to be something special and they respond with an abundant thanksgiving offering of fatlings, rams, bulls, and goats are offered. Presumably this type of offering would take place within a great communal feast celebrating God’s provision and telling again the story of God’s mighty deeds through the Exodus.

The psalm concludes with a move from a highlighting of what God has done for the people to centering on God’s answering of the prayer of the speaker. God has formed the speaker to be pure of heart and God also hears the prayers of this treasured one. God’s promised steadfast love has been there when the psalmist needed it and God has demonstrated that God is trustworthy in God’s relation to the individual as well as the people. Living in the covenant with this God has brought the psalmist to the point where they shout out joyfully with all creation for the mighty work of their God.

This is a psalm that speaks to what Dietrich Bonhoeffer would many years later call ‘costly grace.’ The grace (or steadfast love) in this psalm chooses the people without any worthiness of their own, but it also tests and tries the recipient so that they may become something precious. This steadfast love is at work in the work of creation, redemption, and sanctification-forming from slaves and sinners a holy people, a treasured possession, and a priestly kingdom. It is a faith which allows the faithful one to understand the struggles they pass through as a part of their formation to be who they were intended by God to be. It is a faith that can point to God’s mighty deeds in the past but also acknowledges the way that God has given heed to the words of the faithful one’s prayer. Perhaps one of the gifts in this psalm is the way that the steadfast love of God is seen at the conclusion, after the mighty deeds and the passing through fire and water. As Bonhoeffer stated in Discipleship, “Grace as presupposition is grace at its cheapest; grace as a conclusion is costly grace.” (DBWE 4:51) Perhaps it is only looking back through the struggles that one can appreciate the manner in which both the struggles and the mighty works together have been a part of God’s patient formation of the people and the individual through the ever-present steadfast love of God.

[1] This is the Hebrew verb rua (shout) which appears at the end of the last verst of Psalm 65

Getting to know Creative Words

To introduce Creative Words I did several readings of selections from throughout the work. Click on any of the titles and it will take you to the reading with the text of the poem:

Introducing Creative Words

Reading of the title poem Creative Words

Reading of Anxiety

Reading of Obfuscation

Reading of Poet, End the War

If you would like to read a review of Creative Words by an independent reviewer for Clarion book reviews you can access that here.