Texts: Genesis 9:8-17;  Mark 1:9-15

Two weeks ago Katie G ended her sermon by introducing us to a phrase that comes out of music theory: “Participatory discrepancies.”  Participatory discrepancies are the human element  in community and specifically, singing and music making, when each voice participates through the same score on the page, but adds its own variance and unscripted nuances.  When we do it well, Katie noted, it can produce a meaningful disunity, which actually turns out to be a pretty good basis for community.

As someone not raised singing four part harmony, but who has spent much of my adult life only somewhat successfully trying to get up to speed on such things, I’m keenly aware of the participatory discrepancies I contribute to any song we sing, and am always a little surprised and grateful that the disunity turns out to be meaningful nonetheless.

And since we are in the mode of learning new vocabulary, I thought we could start the season of Lent off with another contribution, a phrase not completely unrelated to the previous one.  Ready for it?  Hermeneutical community.  The word “hermeneutics” contains the name of the Greek god Hermes who was a messenger...

Texts: Isaiah 40:21-31; Psalm 147:1-11

Speaker: Katie Graber

I love music. When I was growing up, I took piano and violin lessons and sang in choirs and musicals. I was a piano teacher for many years, and now I’m an accompanist and I teach music history classes at Otterbein and Ohio State. Because I love music, I’m tempted to repeat all the grand statements that people like to make about music. Here are a few that I often see posted on facebook in fancy fonts over photos of sunsets: Music says the words we’re too afraid to speak out loud. Without music, life would be a mistake. Music is what life sounds like. Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, and life to everything. Yes, music is all of those things! … sometimes, but not always. Music is also hard work, and it can be humbling. How many of you have ever been bored when we sing hymns? Have you ever been confused? Have we ever sung a song you don’t particularly like? Have you ever been a songleader and screwed up a song so badly you had to start everyone over?

So, instead of repeating platitudes...

Text: Jeremiah 1:1-14 

Every summer of jr high and high school involved baling hay with my uncle, and I have a fond memory of one of the first times he had me drive the tractor that pulled the baler and the wagon where he would stack the square bales.  I would have been about your age.  We would always use the same gear in the tractor for baling hay, but each gear had a low and a high setting, adjusted with the push of a lever.  Up to that point I had always driven in low, but toward the end of one of those long days my uncle told me that at some point during the next load he was going to signal from the wagon for me to push it into high.  And sure enough, a little ways into the load I looked back, my uncle gave me the signal, and, for the first time, I shifted on the fly from low to high.  The thrill that I felt run through my body had a little bit to do with the immediate increase of speed from the tractor, but probably had more to do with this sense...

Text: Matthew 6:9-13

When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, he taught them to say: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  Jesus spoke often of the Kingdom of God, or, the Kingdom of Heaven, and remarkably, taught that it was already at hand, near, already present.  Some scholars have emphasized how Jesus presented the Kingdom of God as an alternative to the Kingdom of Rome.  Others have noted its essential grounding in Jewish understanding of redemption and salvation.  The Kingdom of God is a reality in which relationships are mended, or mending, and creation is freed up to become a fuller and fuller manifestation of goodness and beauty and creative outpouring.

In our religious vocabulary we have developed the notion of us going to heaven, but in Jesus’ ministry and in the prayer he taught us, he emphasized the flow going in the exact opposite direction.  Heaven is coming to us, breaks in at unexpected times in unexpected places.  Your kingdom come on earth, as is already is in heaven.

The universal nature of this kingdom, which spans all ethnic and national divides of persons, means that, by way...

Texts: 1 Samuel 3:1-10; John 1:43-51

The image behind me, also printed on your bulletins, is a stained glass window in 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.  It was a gift from the people of Wales, after that church was bombed in September, 1963, less than three weeks after the March on Washington and King’s “I have a dream” speech.  Four black girls died in that bombing.

Much transpired between the giving of that iconic speech and the words King delivered at Stanford University in April, 1967. Less than a year after that he was killed at the age of 39.  King still expresses hope in the words we have been hearing this morning from that speech, but they are tempered by the continued resistance and outright violence and hatred directed against blacks and the civil rights movement.  The new movie Selma, which I hope all of us have a chance to see sometime, is set in 1965, and is one of those events that happened after the hopeful and beautiful dream of 1963 spoken in Washington DC, and before the more solemn and urgent plea of 1967, spoken at Stanford.  Because we are...