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Category: Worship

The Cross

THE CROSS. by John Donne SINCE Christ embraced the cross itself, dare I His image, th’ image of His cross, deny? Would I have profit by the sacrifice, And dare the chosen altar to despise? It bore all other sins, but is it fit That it should bear the sin of scorning it? Who from the picture would avert his eye, How would he fly his pains, who there did die? From me no pulpit, nor misgrounded law, Nor scandal taken, shall this cross withdraw, It shall not, for it cannot; for the loss Of this cross were to me another cross. Better were worse, for no affliction, No cross is so extreme, as to have none. Who can blot…

Grand Juncture

The great questions of life — Who am I? Where did I come from? Is there meaning and purpose? Where is God in suffering? — all intersect and are resolved only in communion. Preaching, when it understands itself, is invitation and preparation for communion. Fruitful service, rather than the justification for communion, only arises from it. Whatever does not arise from faith, no matter how impressive to the world, is sin. Real friendship happens only in communion. Every ending points back to communion. Every communicant participates in the new future that God stands ever ready to give to those who look to him in trust. The Christian life is retailing every day what we lay up for ourselves in communion.

God in Ordinary

Daily bread reminds us that God’s goodness presents itself to us in ordinary means.  Every leaf and blade of grass and fading flower glorifies Him.  This same God has established ordinary means in his Church to sustain us.  The best preparation for miracles is to learn to enjoy God’s goodness in the ordinary.

Blessed Barrenness

God turned Hannah’s barrenness, in the midst of Israel’s barrenness, into blessedness (1Samuel 1:4-20) inviting us to bless God also in our barren times. Hannah’s barrenness parallels Israel’s barrenness. Judges, immediately preceding, describes a national cycle whose overall trend was down. After the people entered the Promised Land they prospered as long as they remembered how hard won were their blessings. But as soon as those died who remembered warfare, prosperity took its toll; they fell away and they brought on themselves all the curses that Moses had predicted in Deuteronomy. When judgment fell, they repented, they called on God, and God sent them a judge who freed them from their enemies. As long as that judge lived they had…

Work Another Network

“Don’t be afraid… Those who are with us are more than those who are with them. And Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes…” (2 Kings 16-17) Ahab and Jezebel voted Elisha least likely to succeed as prophet. No wonder — he neglected the basics; he neither believed in himself, nor did he ingratiate the powerful. He annoyed pagan dignitary Naaman, by keeping quietly at home, speaking only through his servant Gehazi.  Distrusting princes, (Psalm 146:3) Elisha worked another network. The old University of Chicago Divinity School library, in its last year of use when I arrived there as a student in 1980, included human-sized angels (I wanted to say life-sized, but who knows what that is?) carved in the rafters, so that…