Saturday, November 21, 2015


Tomorrow, we will be celebrating Christ the King Sunday (or "The Reign of Christ the King")! - It is the last Sunday after Pentecost and the last Sunday of the Christian year. It is also the Sunday just prior to our entering into the holy season of Advent.
The observance of Christ the King Sunday is really a relatively new celebration. It was originally instituted by Pius XI, Bishop of Rome, for celebration on the last Sunday of October. However, after Vatican II, it was moved to its current location on the Christian calendar. 
Incidentally, no less than +N.T. Wright, has argued that Ascension Sunday is the proper celebration of Christ the King, rather than the creation of this relatively new celebration.  -  Nevertheless, I think that this setting, in addition to Ascension Sunday, has much to offer the Church.  An example of which can be seen in the lectionary readings; especially the Gospel reading, which is taken from John 18:33-37.  -  Jesus' contrast between the citizens of His Kingdom and those of the kingdoms of this world is especially timely given our age of terrorism, military responses and the refugee crisis. 

In honor of Christ the King Sunday, find, below, a copy of Charles Wesley's great hymn, “Rejoice, the Lord Is King.”  -  The hymn will be printed as it appears in the Sing to the Lord (Nazarene) hymnal and most other hymnals.  (It seems that The United Methodist Hymnal includes some rather strange editorial changes in verses 1 and 4; changes that seem not to make sense.  The predecessor hymnal, The Methodist Hymnal, retains the hymn as appears elsewhere.)

It is also interesting (and puzzling) that this hymn does not seem to appear in volume 7 of The Works of John Wesley: A Collection of Hymns for the Use of The People Called Methodists.  If it had, perhaps light may have been shed as to why the UMC hymnal changed the text.

Nevertheless, here follows the hymn!

Rejoice, the Lord Is King

1. Rejoice, the Lord is King! Your Lord and King adore!
Rejoice, give thanks, and sing, And triumph evermore.
Lift up your heart;
Lift up your voice! Rejoice; again I say: rejoice!
2. Jesus, the Savior, reigns, The God of truth and love.
When he had purged our stains, He took His seat above.
Lift up your heart;
Lift up your voice! Rejoice; again I say: rejoice!
3. His kingdom cannot fail; He rules o'er earth and heav'n.
The keys of death and hell Are to our Jesus giv'n.
Lift up your heart;
Lift up your voice! Rejoice; again I say: rejoice!
4. Rejoice in glorious hope! Our Lord, the Judge, shall come
And take His servants up To their eternal home.
Lift up your heart;
Lift up your voice! Rejoice; again I say: rejoice!
This Sunday (and every day!) may we all rejoice and worship Christ our King, not only with our lips but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to His service, and by walking before Him in holiness and righteousness all our days (cf., "A General Thanksgiving," BCP). - May all glory be to God the Father, Christ our King, and the Holy Spirit! Amen!
This post relied on previous posts on this same topic.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Christian's Attitude About the Issue of Immigration: A Nazarene Episcopal Perspective

Last Thursday, November 12, I received a "Pursuing . . . The Way of Holiness" email from the Board of General Superintendents of the Church of the Nazarene.  "Pursuing . . . The Way of Holiness"  is a newsletter that features episcopal statements, thoughts, words of inspiration, etc. from our various general superintendents.  This particular one was adapted from a Holiness Today article from May/June of 2012. 

The article is important as we hear political candidates debate concerning what to do with our "undocumented" or "illegal" immigrants in the United States.  Added to this is the refugee crisis that we and especially those in Europe face.  -  I think that it is important to note that this article was emailed just before the terrorist attacks in Paris.  That horrific event admittedly adds another dimension to the discussion.  Nevertheless, I think that this is a very good reminder and example of how our faith shapes our actions and attitudes in this world.  It is also noteworthy that this article was not written as a reaction to the current immigrant debates, but rather was originally published in 2012.

This coming Sunday is Christ the King Sunday.  I expect to be preaching from the Gospel lectionary passage where Jesus is being questioned by Pilate.  I find the contrast to be striking when comparing some of the rather . . . enthusiastic comments by some Christians on Facebook concerning France's military retaliation for the terrorist attacks, and the equally enthusiastic calls for U.S. action, over against Jesus' words in response to Pilate.  There, Jesus said, "My kingdom is not from this world.  If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.  But as it is, my kingdom is not from here." 

It seems to me that, as those who are first and foremost citizens of the Kingdom of God, we have to determine how that citizenship influences how we act as citizens of the United States.  While I think that there should be space to think through and debate what our government's actions ought to be concerning terrorism, I also think that an attitude consistent with the Kingdom of God should at least squelch the kind of "all in," enthusiastic calls for "nuking them" and "bombing them to the stone age."  -  I would note that when Dietrich Bonhoeffer participated in the assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler, he did not do so with the kind of enthusiasm I hear from some of my sisters and brothers.  Even though he concluded that he needed to be a part of the plan to kill Hitler, he did so knowing that he was taking guilt upon himself.  He said, "Before other men he is justified by dire necessity; before himself he is acquitted by his conscience, but before God he hopes only for grace."

++ Jerry D. Porter
The article by our general superintendent, the Rev'd. Dr. Jerry D. Porter, brings the "Kingdom attitude" to bear on the issue of immigration. 

Since the email indicated that the article was "used with permission," and since it did not allow Facebook sharing, I am not copying it, here.  Nevertheless I encourage you to follow the link to its original source.  The Immigrant Among Us

Monday, November 16, 2015

Another Great Wesley Hymn

This past Sunday, we sang the following Wesley hymn.  Amazingly, it is not found in "The United Methodist Hymnal," though it was in the previous "The Methodist Hymnal."  (What in the world would cause the editors/compilers of the most recent United Methodist hymnal to leave this one out??!!).  -  Thankfully, it still appears in the Nazarene hymnal, "Sing to the Lord."  -  In any case, we sang it at both my United Methodist and my Nazarene churches.

It is a powerful hymn!  May God use it in speaking words of assurance to you!

Arise, My Soul, Arise
1. Arise, my soul, arise.
Shake off thy guilty fears.
The bleeding Sacrifice
In my behalf appears.
Before the throne my Surety stands,
Before the throne my Surety stands;
My name is written on His hands.
2.   He ever lives above
For me to intercede,
His all-redeeming love,
His precious blood to plead.
His blood atoned for all our race
His blood atoned for all our race,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.
3.  Five bleeding wounds He bears,
Received on Calvary.
They pour effectual prayers;
They strongly plead for me.
"Forgive him, O forgive," they cry.
"Forgive him, O forgive," they cry,
"Nor let that ransomed sinner die."
4.  The Father hears Him pray,
His dear Anointed One;
He cannot turn away
The presence of His Son.
His Spirit answers to the blood,
Hi Spirit answers to the blood,
And tells me I am born of God.
5.  My God is reconciled;
His pard'ning voice I hear.
He owns me for His child;
I can no longer fear.
With confidence I now draw nigh,
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And, "Father, Abba, Father," cry.