The Rev. George Detweiler
Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 4
(Note: The musical information in this meditation is from John Eliot Gardiner’s book Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven)
Bach was 22 when he wrote this cantata for his audition in Mühlhausen. This was his second or perhaps third cantata, but the first in which he attempted to paint narrative in music. The success of this cantata and of the audition moved him from the role of a virtuoso organist to that of a daring composer of figural music, and, I would add, ardent promoter of the theology of Martin Luther. (more…)
The Rev. Dr. William Heisley
Lessons: Jeremiah 31:31-40; Psalm 46; Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-36
People are tired. Tired of the struggle. Tired of the waiting. Tired of the arguments that have filled Church life for, well, nearly 2,000 years. We hear about it in the news, as Pope Francis is both applauded and vilified, and we learn today that there is, indeed, nothing new under the sun.
The Lord is talking to ancient Jeremiah. Jeremiah, who probably lived and wrote sometime in the 7th century before the birth of Jesus. Jeremiah warns the people Israel in a series of laments. In every one of them he lets them know that he is in the midst of a great spiritual struggle with God. Everything from being hauled in before officials for his prophecy, to the opposition that he faced even as his life was ending. Everything is a struggle for Jeremiah. (more…)
The Rev. Dr. William A. Heisley
Lessons: Numbers 21:4b-9; Psalm 98; 1 Corinthians 1:18-24; John 3:13-17
“Keep your chin up.” That might be a good slogan for today. Holy Cross Day. Keep your chin up, keep your head up, keep your eyes up. Might be good to think along these lines today, just like an athlete, always with her eyes on the goal. When you keep your chin up you’re not able to look at your navel. You’re not able to become so self-centered that you miss what’s going on around you, going on in the world. You’re able to see, and to see the widest view possible. And you’re able to see truth.
Moses and Israel were wondering through their lives, looking for life. Looking down at the land. Looking for a land flowing with milk and honey and all good things. And they weren’t finding it. Only hunger and thirst and then, to top it off, snakes. So Moses consulted with God. “What do I do now? These people are making me nuts!” And God told him to be absurd. (more…)