Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Second Sunday of Easter (A), April 19, 2020—John 20:19–31 and 1 Peter 1:3–9


 Caravaggio: The Incredulity of St. Thomas (c. 1602)

 John 20:19-31

Your door’s too light to shut out God.

Young man—
Young woman—
Old man—
Old woman—
Middle-aged man—
Middle-aged woman—
Your door’s too light to shut out God.
You may think
You’re safe from trouble
And nothing can get in,
You may think
The door is barred
For fear of what has been,
You may think
That what you’ve done could
Never be forgiven,
Or most of all,
That love is gone,
Along with joyful living;
But when for all
That you’ve been through
You then expect the least,
The Lord of love
Will walk right in
And say just one word: Peace.

Scott L. Barton

(The beginning is a take-off on James Weldon Johnson’s “The Prodigal Son” from “God’s Trombones.”)

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

+  +  +
 
1 Peter 1:3–9

Quasimodogeniti Sunday*

As in the style of newborn babes
We do not know what's yet to come;
Believers, by the world's strong powers
May, like our Lord, be yet undone;
And yet, there's more that's up God's sleeve,
An unformed hope by which we live,
It cannot be imagined; yet,
We trust the one who gives and gives.

Such trust is what will save our souls,
In gladness, now, our God extol!

Scott L. Barton

*Name given to this day because of the traditional introit's text (in Latin) from 1 Peter 2:2: Like newborn infants (Quasi modo géniti infántes) long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation.” This poem was also inspired by an interview with Bishop Thomas of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Al-Quosia, Upper Egypt, at http://www.presbyterianmission.org/story/carrying-cross-without-fear/

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.



Monday, March 23, 2020

Video on the Resurrection of the Lord (A), April 12, 2020–Matthew 28:1-10

Please page down for the text of both the poem and the Matthew reading, and a bit farther for my new hymn for these online/stay-at-home times. Thanks for joining me at Lectionary Poems!


Resurrection of the Lord (A), April 12, 2020—Matthew 28:1–10

He Qi: He Is Not Here
in The Art of He Qi; also available at heqiart.com

Resurrection Key

A choral work, in major key, 
The Bach Magnificat in D,
Once made me laugh out loud to hear
Repeated music, that appeared
Within the Gloria Patri when
The music came around again—
As it was in the beginning!
Clever Bach, had, in our singing,
Taken us to where we'd started,
Scoring notes already charted.
This technique which Bach employed
Elicits, it turns out, much joy.

So, Matthew, cleverness displayed
With Jesus' "Do not be afraid;
Tell [them] to go to Galilee;
[For it is] there they will see me."
Why Galilee? It's at the start!
And there it is you'll find the heart
Of who the risen Jesus is—
In all the things he did then, viz., 
Forgiving, healing and inviting—
It makes this risen Lord exciting
Since you can see him there, today—
And Resurrection, thus convey.

Go back, the story read anew,
May then his life repeat in you. 

Scott L. Barton

(The idea that "Galilee" means going back to the beginning of Matthew's gospel comes from Tom Long in a Christian Century article, April 4, 2006. James Burton, conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra's Tanglewood Festival Chorus and B.S.O. Choral Director, reminded me of the name of the particular piece of music I sang years ago.)

This poem and all others for the year, with complete scriptural and title indices, are available in Lectionary Poems, Year A: Surprising Grace for Pulpit and Pew, at Wipfandstock.com and amazon; or from me, signed and inscribed, for only $10 plus $4 shipping and MA sales tax. Write me at scott.l.barton@gmail.com.

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Bonus Poem: A Hymn for Online/at home Worship


This hymn is to be sung to Eternal Father, Strong to Save (The Navy Hymn). I borrowed a few words from William Whiting's words to that hymn, but other than that it's mine, and now yours to use freely.

Eternal Lord, Who Calmed the Waves
 MELITA 8.8.8.8.8.8

Scott L. Barton, 2020              John Bacchus Dykes, 1861

Eternal Lord, who calmed the waves,
We look to you this day to save;
Across the world, we live in fear
And yearn for when we might be clear
Of danger none with eyes can see,
That now has brought us to our knees.

To Lazarus, “Come out!” you called,
To those who cried, you’d not withhold 
A word to banish evil’s power—
So thus we cry to you this hour
To heal a world so ill at ease
From what has brought us to our knees.

O Lord, who lives to break down walls,
By meeting not, we’re all appalled,
And yearn for when, no longer bound,
Our friends and neighbors we’ll surround
With handshakes, hugs, again at ease,
When you will strengthen feeble knees.

O Trinity of love and power, 
All healers guard in danger’s hour;
Protect them as they treat and care
For all your people, here and there,
Thus praises e’er will rise to thee
From all who pray on bended knee.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Video on Palm Sunday (Passion Sunday) (A), April 5, 2020–Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 and Matthew 21:1-11


Palm Sunday (Passion Sunday) (A), April 5, 2020—Psalm 118:1–2, 19–29 and Matthew 21:1–11


       Palmesel, 15th c, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cloisters Collection 1955

Our Parentage

O Church! Do not forget our parentage,
Our roots in Israel of old;
Our parents cried "Hosanna" to the LORD,
A plea to save—and now! So bold
Were they, they cried it yet again that day
When Jesus rode his donkey in,
While from the city's other side, the king—
Who did not save—with pomp and din
Of horse and armor tried to claim the power
That oft has captured human hearts;
But in this fam’ly tree we’ve seen a love
Passed down which still is off the charts.

Scott L. Barton

Psalm 118:1–2, 19–29
(Here's one way you could set these verses as a response between leader and congregation.)

L: O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; 
his steadfast love endures forever! Let Israel say, 
P: "His steadfast love endures forever.”
Open to me the gates of righteousness, 
that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD.
L: This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it.
P: I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.
L: The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
P: This is the LORD's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
L: This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
P: Save us, we beseech you, O LORD! O LORD, we beseech you, give us success!
L: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD. 
P: We bless you from the house of the LORD.
The LORD is God, and he has given us light. 
L: Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar.
P: You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you.
ALL: O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

+ + +

Matthew 21:1–11

The Donkey in the Room

We like to keep our politics
Apart from Sunday church;
And woe to preachers who would dare
The worship to besmirch
With commentary on the powers
That tend to rule the day;
And yes, it can be overdone—
And peoples' trust betray;
But Jesus, on parade that day,
Lampooned the power and might
Of all, like Caesar, who in great
Display would take delight;
He's making fun of those who lord
It over people's hearts;
This Jesus, not just meek and mild,
Is brave, and heav'nly smart.

Scott L. Barton

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, 'The Lord needs them.' And he will send them immediately." This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, 

"Tell the daughter of Zion, 
Look, your king is coming to you, 
humble, and mounted on a donkey, 
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey." 

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, 

"Hosanna to the Son of David! 
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! 
Hosanna in the highest heaven!" 

When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, "Who is this?" The crowds were saying, "This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee."

Video on the Fifth Sunday in Lent (A), March 29, 2020–Ezekiel 37:1-14 and John 11:1-45