Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Our True Home

Our True Home is our worship theme for the second Sunday in Lent, February 24, 2013. Our focus scriptures are Psalm 27, Luke 13:31-35 and Philippians 3:17-4:1.

During Lent we are exploring the foundations for peace as we discover them in the lectionary passages for each Sunday. In our gospel reading Jesus is warned of a threat from Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, and executer of John the Baptist. He is encouraged to flee for his life, but remains steadfast in his commitment to do his work and then go to Jerusalem to die a prophet’s death. He calls Herod a fox, and then as he ponders Jerusalem, he laments the city’s tragic ways: “killing the prophets and stoning those God sends to you.” Jesus wishes it were otherwise: “How often I have longed to gather your children together like a hen gathering her chicks under her wings, but you will not come. So your house is left to you.”

In this brief passage we see the ways of the world – Herod, the fox; Jerusalem the would be holy city which kills prophets and stones messengers – contrasted with the ways of God, the hen who would gather and protect her babies under her wings. In the face of worldly power, Jesus is resolute. He marches to a different drummer, unmoved by the threat or death or any other consequence he may be forced to suffer. His north star is the call of God and God’s power is sufficient for him in any circumstance.

Psalm 27 also celebrates the power of God in the face of danger: “The 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?”

And Paul, writing to the Philippians, reveals the source of this strength: “Many live as enemies of the cross of Christ… Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven.... Therefore, my brothers and sisters… stand firm in the Lord...”  We are not citizens of earth, but citizens of heaven. That knowledge is the foundation of creating peace. That knowledge frees us from the grip of fear in the face of the world’s power.

Here are two Calls to Worship based on Psalm 27 plus a well-known passage from a second century letter from Mathetes (= “a disciple”) to Diognetus. The letter was found in a collection of Justin Martyr. Please use or adapt anything helpful to you.

Call to Worship     From Psalm 27

L: The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
P: The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
L: When evildoers assail me they shall stumble and fall.
P: Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear.
L: One thing I asked from God: to live in God’s house all my days.
P: For God will shelter me in the day of trouble;
     God will set me high upon a rock.
L: I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
P: Wait for the Lord; be strong; let your heart take courage!
All: Wait for the Lord! Let us worship God.                        

Call to Worship (L: Leader; P: People) From Psalm 27 – New Living Translation

L:  God is my light and my salvation — why should I be afraid?
P: When evil doers attack me, they will stumble and fall.
Though a mighty army surrounds me, I will not be afraid.
L:  The one thing I ask of God — the thing I seek most—
is to live in God’s house all the days of my life,
meditating on God’s goodness and delighting in God’s love.
P: For God will conceal me there when troubles come;
God will hide me in the sanctuary, out of reach of my enemies.
L:  In the sanctuary I will offer praise with shouts of joy,
singing to God with all my heart.
P: Hear me as I pray, dear God.
Be merciful and answer me!
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “God, I am coming.”
L:  Do not turn your back on me.
Do not reject your servant in anger.
Even if my father and mother abandon me,
I know that God will hold me close.
P: So I am confident I will see God’s goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.
All: Wait patiently for God, my soul.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Christians are not distinguished from the rest of mankind by country, or by speech, or by dress. For they do not dwell in cities of their own, or use a different language, or practice a peculiar life. This knowledge of theirs has not been proclaimed by the thought and effort of restless men; they are not champions of a human doctrine, as some men are. But while they dwell in Greek or barbarian cities according as each man’s lot has been cast, and follow the customs of the land in clothing and food, and other matters of daily life, yet the condition of citizenship which they exhibit is wonderful and admittedly strange. They live in countries of their own, but simply as sojourners. They share the life of citizens, they endure the lot of foreigners. Every foreign land is to them a fatherland, and every fatherland a foreign land. They marry like the rest of the world. They breed children, but they do not discard their children as some do. They offer a common table but not a common bed. They exist in the flesh, but they live not after the flesh. They spend their existence upon earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws, and in their own lives they surpass the laws. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown, and they are condemned. They are put to death, and they gain new life. They are poor, and make many rich. They lack everything, and in everything they abound. They are dishonored, and their dishonor becomes their glory. They are reviled, and are justified. They are abused, and they bless. They are insulted, and repay insult with honor. They do good, and are punished as evildoers; and in their punishment they rejoice as gaining new life therein. The Jews war against them as aliens, and the Greeks persecute them; and they that hate them can state no ground for their enmity.
          In a word, what the soul is in the body, Christians are in the world. The soul is spread through all the members of the body, and Christians through all the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, but it is not of the body. Christians dwell in the world, but they are not of the world. (Letter to Diognetus, 5:1-17; 6:1-4)

No comments:

Post a Comment