Today we heard John 10:1-21: Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd! Here are some additional resources to aid you as you reflect on this powerful passage.
Today we heard John 10:1-21: Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd! Here are some additional resources to aid you as you reflect on this powerful passage.
Recently I had the privilege of attending the national gathering of The Fellowship Community, a group of Christ-centered, biblically-rooted, mission-minded leaders and congregations within the Presbyterian Church USA. (Some of you may be familiar with Presbyterians for Renewal; the Fellowship is a similar organization.)
The gathering took place at Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, and its theme was “Come Together: Discipleship in a Divided Time.” Each speaker and activity focused on the theme of unity in the body of Christ. For example…
I don’t know about you, but it’s easy for me to feel discouraged and cynical in this cultural moment. We live in a world of conflict. We are so divided as a church. We are so divided as a country. We are so divided as persons. Yet this conference gave me the space to slow down, to worship, and to be reminded from thoughtful speakers and like-minded friends that Jesus is Lord of heaven and earth. And since that’s true, as the hymn reminds us, how can we keep from singing?
From Faith & Leadership:
“America’s pastor,” who was an adviser to presidents and preached the gospel to millions across the globe, died Feb. 21, 2018, at age 99. This resource page gathers Faith & Leadership essays about the great evangelist and his wife.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2018
Grant Wacker: Billy Graham and Christian humility
Graham’s ministry was marked by personal humility -- but that never meant disparaging his accomplishments.
Grant Wacker: Billy Graham was a model for what Americans wanted to be
The author of “America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation” explains how Graham reflected and changed 20th-century American culture.
Excerpt from ‘America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation’ by Grant Wacker
In the epilogue of his new book on America’s most influential evangelist, Duke Divinity School professor emeritus Grant Wacker recalls a visit with Billy Graham.
Grant Wacker: Billy Graham’s legacy
Despite his flaws, Billy Graham is a model for Christian life and ministry, says Duke Divinity School professor emeritus Grant Wacker in this audio talk.
Anne Blue Wills: Ruth Bell Graham was more than Billy Graham's wife
The story of Ruth Bell Graham is not well-known. Although she embraced her role of “preacher's wife,” she also lived out a deeply personal Christian commitment, says a scholar at Davidson College who is writing her biography.
Originally posted at:
Where to get bread? An ever-pressing question
That trembles on the lips of anxious mothers,
Bread for their families, bread for all these others;
A whole world on the margin of exhaustion.
And where that hunger has been satisfied
Where to get bread? The question still returns
In our abundance something starves and yearns
We crave fulfillment, crave and are denied.
And then comes One who speaks into our needs
Who opens out the secret hopes we cherish
Whose presence calls our hidden hearts to flourish
Whose words unfold in us like living seeds
Come to me, broken, hungry, incomplete,
I Am the Bread of Life, break Me and eat.
Alexander Schmemann, "For the Life of the World":
Centuries of secularism have failed to transform eating into something strictly utilitarian. Food is still treated with reverence...To eat is still something more than to maintain bodily functions. People may not understand what that 'something more' is, but they nonetheless desire to celebrate it. They are still hungry and thirsty for sacramental life.
John Donne, "Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions," Prayer:
Therefore I beg of thee my daily bread; and as thou gavest me the bread of sorrow for many days, and since the bread of hope for some, and this day the bread of possessing, in rising by that strength, which thou the God of all strength hast infused into me, so, O Lord, continue to me the bread of life: the spiritual bread of life, in a faithful assurance in thee; the sacramental bread of life, in a worthy receiving of thee; and the more real bread of life in an everlasting union to thee.
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the season of Lent. If you didn’t grow up with Lent (and I know many of you didn’t, myself included), here’s a bit of background. The word “Lent” comes from the Old English word for “springtime.” It refers to the length of time before Easter, traditionally forty days, when the Church prepares to commemorate Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Just as Advent helps us prepare spiritually for Christmas, Lent helps us prepare spiritually for Holy Week and Easter.
You may be asking, Do I have to observe Lent? The first answer is, Of course not. But the second answer is, Why wouldn’t you? This season is a gift to us wherein we may pause and reflect on our lives in light of Jesus Christ. So, I encourage you to observe it this year. Typically folks use this time as a chance to give something up: certain foods, certain media, certain habits. In recent years it’s become popular to take something on: daily prayer, for instance, or journaling and letter-writing. Regardless, the goal isn’t self-promotion (pride) but self-effacement (humility). What will help you humble yourself over the next forty days, so that you can see Jesus more clearly? Whatever the answer is, do it.
Much more can be said — but for now I’ll leave you with the sage words of St. Ambrose of Milan. Let’s pray this together, and mean it:
O Lord, who has mercy upon all:
take away from me my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me
the fire of your Holy Spirit.
Take away from me the heart of stone,
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore You,
a heart to delight in You,
to follow and enjoy You, for Christ's sake,
Image credit: Agnolo Gaddi, “Crucifixion”
Today we heard the story of Jesus healing an "invalid" at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-18). Jesus asks a probing question: "Do you want to get well?" The man does, and Jesus heals him.
One-fifth of all the material in the Gospels is concerned with Jesus' healing of some form of physical disease. This has dramatic implications for our life today as Jesus' followers. The Son of God came to save us and to heal us - in body and in soul, in this life or in the life to come.
Take a look at these extra resources, especially the Wilson article I referenced in my sermon.
Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?”
They said to Him, “Rabbi, where are you staying?”
He said to them, “Come and see.” - John 1:38-39
Week 2 in John’s Gospel finds us making the turn from knowing about Jesus to following after Jesus. John the Baptist acts as our guide, helping us (and those first disciples) get their bearings for this new adventure. What will you do when he comes calling, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world?
“We need to pledge ourselves anew to the cause of Christ. We must capture the spirit of the early church. Wherever the early Christians went, they made a triumphant witness for Christ. Whether on the village streets or in the city jails, they daringly proclaimed the good news of the gospel.” - Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love
"Those who aren't following Jesus aren't his followers. It's that simple. Followers follow, and those who don't follow aren't followers. To follow Jesus means to follow Jesus into a society where justice rules, where love shapes everything. To follow Jesus means to take up his dream and work for it." - Scot McKnight, One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow
“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” - John 1:4
Today we started our new study of John. Here are a few of the things I mentioned. Hope you can join us in reading and praying along through this beautiful Fourth Gospel.
“John flies like an eagle above the cloud of human weakness and looks upon the light of unchanging truth with the most lofty and firm eyes of the heart. And gazing on the very deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which he is equal to the Father, he has striven in this Gospel to confide this above all...” - Thomas Aquinas
From Falling Up by Shel Silverstein, gettin’ all theological:
“Of the Father’s Love Begotten” (because sometimes hymns say it best):
And never, ever forget:
Starting Jan. 7, I'll be preaching through the Gospel of John. This is a first for me. I've tackled bits and pieces of John before, but never the book in its entirety. I'm looking forward to digging in with you. Give it a read and see what you notice about Jesus, the Word made flesh who made his dwelling among us (John 1:14).
P.S. -- Take a look at these resources and commentaries to go deeper:
This coming Sunday (Dec. 3) marks the end of "ordinary time" and the beginning of "Advent." What in the world does that mean?
For centuries, the church (meaning the whole church, Christians everywhere) has kept time in a unique and particular way. We Christians have our own calendar, distinct from the Roman calendar used throughout Western civilization. This Christian or "liturgical" calendar reminds us of our identity as God's family and attunes us to the rhythms of God's salvation story.
Here is how Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove explain it:
As a pastor, I don't consider myself a high-church traditionalist (for example, I don't regularly wear a robe and colored stoles and preach through the Revised Common Lectionary). But I do believe deeply in the church calendar as a tool that that grounds us in the truth of the Gospel and unites us to all Christians everywhere. I very much agree with what Lauren Winner writes:
So you will notice the church calendar being referenced this time of year at First Presbyterian Church. The songs and anthems will all reflect the Advent season (and notice, it's not the Christmas season - that comes on Dec. 25!). The banner and parament colors will change to purple as a reminder of the royal birth of King Jesus. The Advent wreath will be lit each week as a reminder of the light Christ brings. I will be preaching through the assigned lectionary Bible texts to help us remember Israel's hope for the long-awaited Messiah. None of this is for the sake of rote traditionalism. We don't do it because it's what we have to do to be good Christians. Rather, we do it for the sake of a lived faith, learning from those who have gone before us so that we might worship the Lord with gladness today. I hope you'll join us during this beautiful time in the life of the church, so that all of us may be shaped by the Spirit in rhythms of grace.
P.S. - Looking for more resources on this topic? Check these out:
Psalm 134 - the last of the songs of ascent - ends with a call to praise:
This reminds us that we are made to praise God. That our chief end (as the Westminster Catechism says) is to glorify God and enjoy him forever! Could there be a more fitting call for Christ the King Sunday?
Eugene Peterson says this:
You can't be a Christian alone. We can't be Christians alone. As Scot McKnight says, When it comes to the Bible, WE is always bigger than ME. So how is God challenging us to go a bit deeper with our brother or our sister? How is God calling us to expand our horizons and see his hand at work through our church, and not just in our individual lives?
Reflect on these questions, and on the quotations below, as we seek the Lord's blessing together.
Psalm 130 begins in the depths and ends with redemption. This movement -- from lament to hope, sin to forgiveness, suffering to redemption -- is at the heart of the Gospel. How do see this in your life? What do you hope for in the Lord?
For added meaning to today's sermon, check out these resources:
Christina Rossetti, De Profundis (“Out of the Depths”)
Oh why is heaven built so far,
Oh why is earth set so remote?
I cannot reach the nearest star
That hangs afloat.
I would not care to reach the moon,
One round monotonous of change;
Yet even she repeats her tune
Beyond my range.
I never watch the scatter'd fire
Of stars, or sun's far-trailing train,
But all my heart is one desire,
And all in vain:
For I am bound with fleshly bands,
Joy, beauty, lie beyond my scope;
I strain my heart, I stretch my hands,
And catch at hope.
John Donne, Hymn to God, my God, in My Sickness
Since I am coming to that holy room,
Where, with thy choir of saints for evermore,
I shall be made thy music; as I come
I tune the instrument here at the door,
And what I must do then, think here before.
Whilst my physicians by their love are grown
Cosmographers, and I their map, who lie
Flat on this bed, that by them may be shown
That this is my south-west discovery,
Per fretum febris, by these straits to die,
I joy, that in these straits I see my west;
For, though their currents yield return to none,
What shall my west hurt me? As west and east
In all flat maps (and I am one) are one,
So death doth touch the resurrection.
Is the Pacific Sea my home? Or are
The eastern riches? Is Jerusalem?
Anyan, and Magellan, and Gibraltar,
All straits, and none but straits, are ways to them,
Whether where Japhet dwelt, or Cham, or Shem.
We think that Paradise and Calvary,
Christ's cross, and Adam's tree, stood in one place;
Look, Lord, and find both Adams met in me;
As the first Adam's sweat surrounds my face,
May the last Adam's blood my soul embrace.
So, in his purple wrapp'd, receive me, Lord;
By these his thorns, give me his other crown;
And as to others' souls I preach'd thy word,
Be this my text, my sermon to mine own:
"Therefore that he may raise, the Lord throws down."
Emily Dickinson, Hope is the Thing With Feathers
“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -
And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -
I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.
"Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain."
Looking for ways to connect your work to your faith in light of this morning's sermon on Psalm 127? Take a look at these resources:
See The Center for Faith and Work for more from Katherine Alsdorf & Tim Keller.
You may also enjoy these books:
"The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy!" - Psalm 126
"Joy is a not a requirement of Christian discipleship, it is a consequence." - Eugene Peterson
Today's song of ascent (Psalm 126) is about the joy of following Christ. Here are some more resources to help us reflect and cultivate deeper joy, that this fruit of the Spirit might blossom and grow to the glory of God, even in the midst of struggle.
"Theology of Joy & the Good Life" Project at Yale Divinity School
"Hidden Joys: A Sonnet for the Visitation" - poem by Malcolm Guite, Sounding the Seasons
Reflections on "Joy" by theologian Stanley Hauerwas
What was the Protestant Reformation, and why does it matter?Read More
Our study of the Psalms continues at First Presbyterian Church!
“If you are interested in exploring the psalms further... here are a few resources that might be of interest to you or to your community. I will also be posting additional material on the Brehm Texas website. A warm thanks to The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and to Cardiphonia for their help in collecting these resources.” - David Taylor, assistant professor of theology and culture and the director of Brehm Texas
Praying the Psalms: Engaging Scripture and the Life of the Spirit
Walter Brueggeman (Wipf & Stock Pub, 2007)
Reflections on the Psalms
C. S. Lewis (Mariner Books, 1964)
Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer
Eugene Peterson (Mariner Books, 1964)
Praying with the Psalms: A Year of Daily Prayers and Reflections on the Words of David
Eugene Peterson (HarperOne, 1993)
Psalm References in U2’s Music
“40,” “Gloria,” “Scarlet,” “Vertigo,” “Love and Peace or Else,” “All Because of You,” “Yahweh.”
The Sayings of Bono (on the Psalms)
David Taylor (Diary of an Arts Pastor, 2016)
Ancient Psalms for a State of the Art Tour
Tim Neufeld (www.ATU2.com, 2015)
Eugene Peterson: U2 Connections
Angela Pancella (www.ATU2.com)
Bono’s Prophetic Vox
Scott Calhoun (www.ATU2.com, 2006)
Music of the Heart: New Psalms in the Celtic Tradition
David Adam (Spck, 2004)
The Message: Psalms
Eugene Peterson (NavPress, 1994)
Psalms (Pocket Book Canon)
Introduction by Bono (Canongate Books, 1999)
Voicing God’s Psalms
Calvin Seerveld (Eerdmans, 2005)
Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship
Martin Tel (Brazos Press 2012)
This Far by Faith: An African American Resources for Worship
(Augsburg Press, 1999)
The Anglican Chant Psalter
Alec Wyton (Church Publishing, 1987)
¡Grita de Alegría! Salmos para el año liturgico
Carlos Rosas (OCP, 2012)
Chant from the Hermitage: A Psalter
John Michael Talbot (Troubadour for the Lord Music, 1900)
The Biblical Psalms in Christian Worship: A Brief Introduction and Guide to Resources
John Witvliet (Eerdmans, 2007)
Reading the Bible with the Damned
Bob Ekblad (Westminster John Knox, 2005)
The Psalms as Christian Lament
Bruce Waltke and James Houston (Eerdmans, 2010)
The Green Psalter: Resources for an Ecological Spirituality
Arthur Walker-Jones (Fortress Press, 2009)
Psalms of Lament
Ann Weems (Westminster John Knox Press, 1999)
The Art of Biblical Poetry
Robert Alter (Basic Books, 2011)
The Unpublished Poetry of Charles Wesley
T. Kimbrough Jr. (Kingswood Books, 1990)
The Great Poems of the Bible: A Reader’s Companion with New Translations
James Kugel (Free Press, 2008)
Dead Men’s Praise
Jacqueline Osherow (Grove Press, 1999)
Psalms: Managing Our Emotions
Christianity Today (2015)
Christ in the Psalms
Patrick Henry Reardon (Conciliar Press 2000)
Psalms: A 12 Week Study
Douglas Sean O’Donnell (Crossway, 2014)
The Spirituality of the Psalms
Carroll Stuhlmueller (Liturgical Press, 2002)
Psalms: The Prayerbook of the Bible
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Augsberg Fortress, 1974)
Journey Through the Psalms
Denise Dombkowski Hopkins (Chalice Press, 2002)
The Psalms: volumes 1-3
John Goldingay (Baker Academic, 2002)
The Psalms Through Three Thousand Years
William Holladay (Augsburg Fortress , 1996)
A Theological Introduction to the Book of Psalms: The Psalms as Torah
Clinton Jr. McCann (Abingdon Press, 1993)
The Psalms in Israel’s Worship
Sigmund Mowinckel (Eerdmans, 2004)
The Case for the Psalms: Why They Are Essential
N. T. Wright (HarperOne, 2013)
Seeing the Psalms: A Theology of Metaphor
William Brown (Westminster John Knox Press, 2002)
Songs of Ascents
Aaron Collier (2007)
“Psalms,” The Saint John’s Bible
Donald Jackson (Illustrated Edition, 2005)
Seeing a New Song: Painting the Psalms Connection
Anneke Kaai and Eugene Peterson (Piquant Editions, 2008)
Psalms for Advent
Jacob Tilton (2013)
“Psalm 126,” He will Not Cry Out, Anthology of Hymns and Spiritual Songs
Bifrost Arts Music (2013)
Holy Week Devotional through the Psalms of Ascents
Hallel Psalms Compilation
The Prayerbook Project
Brian Moss (2008-current)
+ Piano based contemporary renderings of the Psalms from pastor-poet
Sandra McCracken (2015)
+ A Nashville singer-songwriter writing devotional meditations on the Psalms. A few certainly useable by congregations.
The Songs from the Psalter
+ A crowd-sourced effort by worship songwriters to provide a variety of approaches to singing the psalms in the modern church. Largely in the folk rock vein.
Joel Limpic (2014)
+ Worship Pastor at Park Church in Denver, CO. Working on writing songs based in a word-for-word rendition of the ESV.
Robbie Seay (2014)
+ A popular contemporary worship songwriter who is exploring the psalms in word for word versions
Loud Harp (2014)
+ Some ambient folk-pop meditations on the themes of the psalms.
From The River to the Ends of the Earth
Matt Searles (2013)
+ Original songs treating whole psalms for the contemporary church from a folk-rock idiom.
The Gathering Sound Collective (2014)
+ A group of recent graduates from Kuyper College (Grand Rapids, MI) writing excellent versions of thePsalms.
Intown Music (2004).
+ A collection of largely retuned psalter texts from Matthew Curl and the musicians of Intown Presbyterian Church in Portland, OR.
Psalterium Vol. 1
Desert Springs Church (2011)
+ A church in Albuquerque, NM committed to writing and recording original versions of the Psalms.
Highways in Our Hearts
The Psalter Project (2014)
+ Ongoing project from producer Emily Moore seeking to reintroduce the Psalms into the church, with a few Indelible Grace contributors.
The Sons of Korah
+ A long term project from Australia band putting the Psalms word for word into music.
Psalms Vol. 1 Songs of the Forgotten
Garden City Project (2015)
The Psalm Project
+ A group of musicians from the Netherlands producing contemporary arrangement’s of the Psalms based on the old Genevan tunes.
Sing a Psalm
+ Short responsorial songs written in a folky vein for the liturgical needs of the Anglican and Catholic traditions.
By the Streams
Jonathan Orden (2015)
+ Independent musician from the UK recording songs based in the Psalms.
Love and Fear
Worship at Pacific Crossroads Church (2014)
+ Album of contemporary worship songs inspired by the Psalms.
Originally posted here: https://fullerstudio.fuller.edu/resources-exploring-psalms/
Dear church family,
The needs surrounding Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma persist, and there are many ways to help. Here are some suggestions:
May we continue to bear one another's burdens, both locally and nationally, as Jesus calls us to do.
Our study of the Psalms continues! Check out this great conversation between Eugene Peterson (writer of The Message) and Bono (lead singer of U2):