Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Church Musing: Galatians 3: 10-14, 19-22

Sunday's scripture was Galatians 3: 10-14, 19-22.  The New Revised Standard Version online (www.devotions.net) calls these passages Law or Faith, and The Purpose of the Law.  
10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.’ 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law; for ‘The one who is righteous will live by faith.’ 12 But the law does not rest on faith; on the contrary, ‘Whoever does the works of the law will live by them.’ 1 3Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’— 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring would come to whom the promise had been made; and it was ordained through angels by a mediator. 20 Now a mediator involves more than one party; but God is one. 21 Is the law then opposed to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could make alive, then righteousness would indeed come through the law. 22But the scripture has imprisoned all things under the power of sin, so that what was promised through faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.


Here is good old King James:
10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. 21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

Faith or works?  The age old question from the dawn of Christianity (add predestination as the bitters this conundrum cocktail).  I don't think I have an opinion on this conundrum; it's not something that really interests me.  I have faith, of sorts, but I also hate religion that spouts faith over works, like all you have to do is believe hard enough, and then you can screw everyone over and be lazy and not help people.  When you make it all about the afterlife, it means you can be awful in this life, and quite frankly, I think the main commandment was "be nice and do good" NOT "constantly worry about going to Hell."  

Pastor did bring up one of my favorite stories from the Bible, about Peter having the dream about the unclean food, and then Cornelius the Centurion shows up, and the Gentiles get folded into the Christian mix.  I like this story, because to me it negates so much of the judgmental and harsh Old Testament laws.   The message here also is "times change, and you can too."  Peter did.

Galatia, incidentally, is in Turkey.

Our music today.  

Organ prelude was Sicilienne by Maria-Theresia Paradis, who was a blind composer, Austrian, living from 1759-1824, a contemporary of Mozart.  Except she probably didn't write it!  Very, very interesting story here about how the editor of this piece when it first appeared in print, Samuel Dushkin, probably wrote it himself, based on another piece by Carl Maria Von Weber. "The obvious motive would be to increase music sales, since a "discovery" of a new work by an 18th-century composer, even a lesser-known one, provides more cachet than yet anothernew work imitating an older style." http://nepr.net/blog/gentle-rebuke-artistic-fraudsters.

Introit was O God Our Help In Ages Past, arranged by Eugene Butler.  Text by the hymn writer and poet I'm coming to love, Isaac Watts, original music by William Croft, an English composer and organist in the 17th/18th century. Dr. Eugene Butler, who arranged the piece, was at Johnson County Community College, Kansas and, as far as I can tell, is still alive but retired.

First hymn was Let Us With A Joyful Mind, words by the old English poet and author John Milton, adapted by Thomas H. Troeger; tune Innocents from The Parish Choir (1850), a 13th century French melody.    John Milton probably needs to no introduction; he wrote this hymn at age 15 in 1623.  The original hymn was Let Us With a Gladsome Mind.  I like the word "gladsome" much better than "joyful" - it's far more fun.  I also like "let us blaze his Name."

Here is the whole original.

Let us, with a gladsome mind,
praise the Lord, for he is kind:
Refrain:
for his mercies aye endure,
ever faithful, ever sure.

Let us blaze his Name abroad,
for of gods he is the God: Refrain

He with all commanding might
filled the new-made world with light: Refrain

He the gold-tressèd sun
caused all day his course to run: Refrain

The horned moon to shine by night,
mid her spangled sisters bright: Refrain

All things living he doth feed,
his full hand supplies their need: Refrain

Let us, with a gladsome mind,
praise the Lord, for he is kind: Refrain

Thomas H. Troeger is the J. Edward and Ruth Cox Lantz Professor of Christian Communication at Yale Divinity School.  According to the Yale website, he teaches homiletics (the art of preaching!), plays the flute, writes poetry, and is both ordained a Presbyterian and an Episcopalian (but not, alas, a Methodist).

Our anthem we sang was Day by Day by Mark Hayes.  The more I sang this, the more I liked singing it, which isn't true with every piece we perform.  The words appear to be by a 19th century Swedish author, Caroline Lina Sandell-Berg, who apparently wrote them after the death of her father in a boating accident - he fell overboard right before her eyes, and drowned while she watched.  The tune is by Oscar Ahnfelt, a Swedish composer, who composed all the music for Lina Sandell-Berg's hymns.  Jenny Lind, the Swedish nightingale, popularized these hymns in America.  We sing Mark Hayes all the time; sometimes I like his stuff, and other times not so much.  He's very prolific.

Our second hymn was We Walk by Faith words by Henry Alford, music by Hugh Wilson.  Henry Alford was a 19th century English hymnodist and theologian.    Hugh Wilson was an 18th century Scottish composer and mathematician.  The hymn tune is called Martyrdom.

Our offertory was Flute Solo by Thomas Arne, an 18th century English composer.  He's better known for two of his other works, Rule, Britannia and God Save the King (or queen).  He also wrote A-Hunting We Will Go!

Our last hymn was In the Midst of New Dimensions, words and music by Julian B. Rush.  I can't find any information on Julian B. Rush.  Maybe he (or she) isn't even a real person.

Our postlude was Lead On, O King Eternal by Franklin Ritter.  I can't find any information on him either.


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