When Patty Fox had her ecclesiastical council here in January I asked her to talk about how she goes about interpreting a scripture text to prepare to preach on it. She said several wise things, but one really struck me as particularly insightful. She said, “I always look for the odd, unexpected or unusual verse, and then I ask, ‘Why is this here, and is it important?” So as I was looking at today’s story of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness I looked for something I may not have paid much attention to before. And you need to know that the temptation story, which is also in Mark and Matthew, appears in the readings for the First Sunday in Lent every year (from one of these three Gospels.) And I’ve been ordained 44 years, so I have had a chance to preach on this story more than a few times. Continue reading
The Reverend Doctor Horace Thaddeus Allen. Jr. received his B.A. from Princeton University, his M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and his Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary. Continue reading
The reason for my title is there are three Biblical stories that are traditionally read in worship during Epiphany, and they all share the same purpose. Epiphany means “appearance” or “manifestation”, and the themes of Epiphany are about seeing and knowing Jesus as the incarnate One, the Light of the World. Continue reading
When I read today’s lessons, I am struck by the mystery, grandeur and majesty of the Biblical conception of God. In these lessons God is the One who is due reverence and worship by virtue of God’s very being and nature. Our God is an awesome God. Continue reading
We glorify your name, O God,
Through Christ, your Word made flesh.
We worship, listen for your Word,
To hear your Good News fresh.
You gather us to be made one,
You call us each by name,
We grow in Christ, your own dear Son,
We care for each the same.
You send us forth your sheep to feed,
Your grace and gifts employ,
To share our faith by word and deed,
To spread peace, love and joy.
We teach your truth to grow the mind
Of people young and old.
To live and learn, to seek and find,
Your story must be told.
We serve our neighbors in your name,
Ones we know and others.
From near and far they’re all the same,
Our sisters and brothers.
All praise and honor come your way,
The Father and the Son.
And Holy Spirit, each new day,
Until the worlds are done.
©Richard L. Floyd, 2004
(I wrote this in 2004 based on the Mission Statement of the congregation I was serving at the time. Like many of my hymn texts it is “open,” which means it is not attached to any particular tune. It is in Common Meter and can be plugged into any C.M. tune. If you try it and like it let me know which tune you have used.
Photo: R. L. Floyd, 2016. The Appalachian Trail at Tyringham Cobble, MA)
I don’t know about you, but I have too much stuff. Eleven years ago we moved from a sixteen-room house (a big old parsonage) to an eight-room house. Before we moved we had a huge yard sale. Still, it was a good two years before we could put both our cars into the two-car garage. This may sound like what my daughter calls a “first world-problem,” and it is!
We Americans have too much stuff, and it is not good for our souls. I grew up in a middle-class American family of five. We had a one-level ranch house with three bedrooms, two of them very small, with small closets. My brother and I shared a bunk bed. We had a one-car garage. Our house was built on a concrete slab, so there was no basement. We had an attic, just a crawl space, and my Dad had to climb up there every year to get the Christmas tree stand. Not much room to store stuff.
How things have changed! Look at the four square feet around you. That is the per-capita share of the American self-storage industry, according to the Self-Storage Association, a trade group. They say that “the country now possesses some 1.875 billion square feet of personal storage. All this space is contained in nearly 40,000 facilities owned and operated by more than 2,000 entrepreneurs, including a handful of publicly traded giants like Public Storage, Storage USA, and Shurgard.” (From Slate, “Self-Storage Nation” by Tom Vanderbilt) Continue reading
I wrote the baptismal hymn text “Come here by the waters” early last year, and though several pastors have told me they have used it in worship, I had never heard it sung by a congregation until this morning.
We worshipped this morning at the church in RI where my daughter, Rebecca, is pastor. She administered five baptisms, and they sang my hymn. She has chosen it before, but never when I was present.
She made a clever move with it that I hadn’t thought of. She divided the first two verses and the final two, singing the former before the baptisms and the latter right after. This makes sense because the first two are invitational (“come bring us your child) and the latter two are blessings (Bless us with your presence, your Word, and your power) and doxologies. Here are the words.
Come Here by the Waters
Come here by the waters, come bring us your child.
We’ll call on God’s Spirit, so loving and wild.
These people and parents will speak their firm vow.
This child full of blessing belongs to Christ now.
Your promise enduring will follow her* days,
And lead to a life filled with service and praise.
You’ll bless her** and keep her** and always be there,
Through life’s many changes you’ll watch her with care.
Bless us with your presence, your Word, and your power,
That we may be faithful in every new hour.
Let church be a place that is brimming with love,
And bless these dear children with grace from above.
We praise you and thank you for all you provide,
For blessings and graces that reach far and wide.
Praise Father, praise Son, and the Spirit divine,
Both now and forever, and far beyond time.
(*or his, or their) (** or him, or them)
Tune: Cradle Song 126.96.36.199.
© Richard L. Floyd, 2015
(To learn more about this hymn, and for both accompaniment and melody line reproducible music go here. Photo: R.L. Floyd, 2016)