April 4, 2019

April 4, 2019

April 4, 2019
by Kathie Wilson-Parker

Luke 9:10-17

Goodness!  It’s almost the last Sunday in the Season of Lent.  Inexorably, time leads us toward Palm Sunday, then Holy Week with the tortuous trials and excruciating death of Jesus, and ultimately to Easter.  Our scriptures lead us toward deepening our worship by exposing us to the lectionary for the upcoming Sunday.  Our knowledge of the Christian year leads us to increasing tension as we know already what Jesus will face.  Our lives lead us to seek wisdom and strength—and even songs—from the scriptures.  Listen for the music in Isaiah 43:1-3 (NRSV), addressed to a despairing people in exile: 
43 But now thus says the Lord, 
    he who created you, O Jacob, 
    he who formed you, O Israel: 
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; 
    I have called you by name, you are mine. 
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; 
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; 
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, 
    and the flame shall not consume you. 
3 For I am the Lord your God, 
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. 

You may have recognized the inspiration for the refrain in David Haas’ beautiful and moving song, “You Are Mine.”   

Do not be afraid, I am with you. 
I have called you each by name. 
Come and follow me, I will bring you home; 
I love you and you are mine. 
Perhaps you heard in your mind’s ear the old hymn, “How Firm a Foundation.”  For a rollicking, uplifting version, click here.  I hope you have sung and been comforted by verses 3 and 4, with their direct references to the “foundation…laid for your faith in his excellent word!”:  
3. “When through the deep waters I call thee to go, 
the rivers of woe shall not thee overflow; 
for I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless, 
and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress. 
4. “When through the fiery trials thy pathways shall lie, 
my grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply; 
the flame shall not hurt thee; I only design 
thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine. 
Words of hope echo through Psalm 126 (KJV) about the feelings of a people who have been restored to their homeland.  The echoes of sobs have been replaced with laughter.  Listen for the song in this biblical hymn: 

126 When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. 
2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them. 
3 The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. 
4 Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the south. 
5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. 
6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. 
“Bringing in the Sheaves” is one among many hymns inspired by this Psalm, thought to have been sung by Jewish pilgrims on the way to Jerusalem. (By the way, you get extra stars in your crown if you know that sheaves are bound stalks of harvested grains.)  
Both the Isaiah passage and the Psalm assume that life has times of struggle and sorrow.  Both are confident that the one who created us, the one who formed us as a potter, will not abandon us.  That’s something to sing about! 
Prayer: Lord, you have done great things for us; we are glad.  Give us the faith and the courage to keep sowing in hope even when we fear the turbulence around us, or when we are uncertain about the future.  We look forward to reaping in joy, and rejoicing that you have done great things for us.  Amen.