“By your endurance you will gain your souls”

Luke 21:5-19 (Psalm 98, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13)

Four Roman emperors in a single year (69AD). An earthquake in Philippi (Acts 16:26). A severe and wide-spread famine (Acts 11:28). And a description – by the Jewish historian Josephus – of a comet resembling a flaming sword streaking through the sky at the time of the destruction of the Temple (War 6.289).

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Who’s In?

John 13:1-9, 12-15

Betrayed by a close friend; facing imminent torture and eventual death; surrounded by friends who have no clue what’s going on, and little apparent interest in trying to figure it out. That’s the context in which Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. Read more…

A God-Oriented Radical Existence

Luke 6:20-31(Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18, Psalm 149, Ephesians 1:11-23)

“Blessed are the poor.” Really? Are you sure? Tevye, in Fiddler of the Roof, asks God a great question:

It may sound like I’m complaining, but I’m not. After all, with Your help, I’m starving to death. Oh, dear Lord. You made many, many poor people. I realize, of course, it’s no shame to be poor… but it’s no great honor either. So what would be so terrible… if I had a small fortune? Read more…

About Today’s Music – 3 November 2019 – All Saints Sunday

We are so thankful for the many musical gifts of our SAKLC members. This coming Sunday, Carey Morrison will play two hymn tune arrangements by Thomas Keeseckers during our worship services. Thank you, Carey!

As we celebrate All Saints Sunday, we will utilize the hymn “For all the saints” at both Sunday worship services. This hymn is a commentary on the article in the Apostles’ Creed, “I believe in the Communion of Saints.” Within the protestant tradition, the relationship with the faithful on earth —The Church Militant — and the saints in heaven — The Church Triumphant— is paramount. This hymn emphasizes this union. For more background on this hymn, click here.

During the month of November, our liturgical setting will change to one based on the hymn tune, Land of Rest, an American folk tune with roots in the ballads of northern England and Scotland. It is most well-known as the tune for the hymn “Jerusalem, my happy home”. The tune was known throughout the Appalachians; a shape-note version of the tune was published in The Sacred Harp (1844) and titled New Prospect as the setting for “O land of rest! for thee I sigh.” The tune was published again with that same text in J. R. Graves’s Little Seraph (Memphis, 1873). The name Land of Rest derives from the tune’s association with that text. The tune was known to Annabel M. Buchanan (b. Groesbeck, TX, 1888; d. Paducah KY, 1983), whose grandmother sang it to her as a child. She harmonized the tune and published it in her Folk Hymns of America (1938), noting similarities between this tune and the tune for “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” (616). Known especially as a musicologist of American folk music, Buchanan was educated at the Landon Conservatory, Dallas, Texas, and the Guilmant Organ School, New York City. She taught at several colleges, including Stonewall Jackson College, Abingdoll, Virginia. Buchanan published numerous articles on folk traditions of the Appalachian area of the United States. She also lectured widely on this topic and gave recitals of folk music. Her own compositions also show the influence of folk music.

“continue in my word”

John 8:31-36 (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Psalm 46, Romans 3:19-28)

“Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason,” argued the great American writer Mark Twain. I have to confess that I have some sympathy with his argument – as would many folks who watch television, read newspapers, or dare to go to the new Wild West that is the internet! Perhaps it is the disingenuous way in which politicians tend to promise their followers… well… everything. (Grandiose promises are the hallmark of a politician.) And then comes bitter disappointment. Read more…

Music for 27 October

On the weekend before Halloween, the evening before All Saints Day, we will hear J. S. Bach’s famous Toccata in D minor, one of the most famous works in the organ repertoire. The figure most closely identified with the Protestant Reformation is, of course, Martin Luther. But after him probably comes Johann Sebastian Bach, who spent much of his musical career in the service of Luther’s church. Interestingly, the two men never met; they were born more than 200 years apart.  When Bach was 48 years old he received a copy of Luther’s bible. This shaped the composer’s  theology of music. Bach has been described as “a theologian who just happened to work with a keyboard.” Some have even termed him “the fifth evangelist,” ranking him (in a sense) with the New Testament gospel writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Our Chancel Choir will sing “I Know My Faith is Founded”, a setting of a hymn text by Erdmann Neumeister. He was well known in his day as an earnest and eloquent preacher, and as a vehement upholder of High Lutheranism. The anthem is based on the hymn tune, NUN LOB, MEIN SEEL. adapted by Johann Kugelmann from the song “Weiss mir ein Blümlein blaue”. Kugelmann was trumpeter, music director, and composer at the court of Margrave Albrecht V of Brandenburg. His compositions include music for two Königsberg songbooks as well as melodies and harmonizations for a manuscript collection of devotional songs by Heinrich von Miltitz. Kugelmann’s best known work, Concentus Novi (1540), contains thirty of his original compositions.

The congregation will sing the most well-known Reformation hymn, “A mighty fortress is our God”, a hymn by Martin Luther based on Psalm 46. It is a celebration of the sovereign power of God over all earthly and spiritual forces, and of the sure hope we have in him because of Christ. For an interesting history of the hymn, visit: https://www.challies.com/articles/hymn-stories-a-mighty-fortress-is-our-god/

The Eyes of Faith

Luke 17:11-19 (2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c; Psalm 111)

The healing comes from God to a foreigner who is on the wrong political side, who doesn’t even believe in God, and who storms off in a huff rather than bathe in the River Jordan – because it’s inferior to the mighty rivers of his homeland. Naaman is not a very sympathetic figure. Yet God heals him of his leprosy (2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15).
Luke 17:11-19 tells of the healing of the ten lepers – an account found only in Luke. Jesus is still on his way to Jerusalem – described in Luke 9:51-19:27 – during which time Jesus does a lot of teaching (mainly about the cost of discipleship). This account is about the eyes of faith. Read more…

Mom, Mulberries & Mustard

I hate to say it, but my mom was right! There, I’ve said it. It took me over fifty years to admit it, but she was right – about many, many things. The thing she was right about, for the purpose of this devotional, is her frequent use of the phrase, “Goodness is its own reward.” My mom had lots of well-worn phrases – some learned from her own mom. (When she was wee, my mom would ask my granny for money to go to the cinema. This was often met with, “It’s too nice a day to sit in a dark theatre!” It took my mom years to discover that what her mom really meant was that she had no money to give her.) Read more…

…this is our sword

Revelation 12:7-12 (Daniel 10:10-14; 12:1-3, Psalm 103:1-5, 20-22, Luke 10:17-20)

The Isenheim Altarpiece portrays Jesu in complete agony, covered in the most horrendous sores and wounds, and nailed to the cross. It is grotesque; especially when compared with romanticized depictions of the crucifixion with which most of us are accustomed. And yet, when Matthias Grünewald painted the altarpiece (1512–1516), it was intended – and indeed served as – a great source of comfort to those who saw it. Read more…

What is God’s justice?

Luke 16:1-13 (Amos 8:4-7, Psalm 113)

This is the most despised text in all the New Testament – at least in the minds of biblical scholars. It’s just a very difficult text to interpret. Okay, despised may be overstating it a wee bit. Let’s just say, as one scholar puts it, “It is one of the great exegetical mountains of scripture.” The full text, and even an outline of all the potential interpretations, is impossible to share in this brief devotion. So, go read the passage; and here I’ll share my interpretation. Read more…