The LPC e-pistle is designed for the friends and families of Langhorne Presbyterian Church and any others who happen by. Pastor Bill Teague shares weekly comments on the world, the life of faith and Langhorne Church. A weekly e-mail, sent by request, keeps members up to date on news and prayer concerns within the congregation. Langhorne Presbyterian Church is a warm, Christ-honoring congregation, and we’d love to have you stop by for a visit if you’re ever in our neighborhood. You can get directions to LPC here.
Our spring sermon series has been built around the texts of some of the great hymns of the faith. Members of the church suggested the hymns, and seven with strong Scriptural references were chosen for the weeks between Easter and the beginning of the summer season.
One of the requested hymns is “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and it will provide the theme for this Sunday’s sermon with the preaching text from Revelation 14 and its image of the grapes of wrath. Come Sunday as we explore our lives and our times lived out in the realities of wrath and grace.
In preparing for the sermon, I put together a short video designed to remind us of the hymn and its context. You may view the video here (or scroll down to the bottom of this post).
As you can see, a lot of the work of creating the video had to do with finding photos of Civil War soldiers. Thank you, Google Images. As I collected the images for the video collage, I was struck by how the work of Matthew Brady and others in those early days of photography captured the humanity of those who were willing to “die to make men free.” View the video again and look into the eyes of those who looked into the photographer’s lens over a century and a half ago.
When I decided to include the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” as one of the hymns for the sermon series, it seemed obvious that the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend would be the appropriate Sunday for the message.
Memorial Day is one of the more schizophrenic U.S. holidays. It was first observed in the years following the Civil War as a time to honor those who, as Lincoln said at Gettysburg, “gave the last full measure of devotion.” First called Decoration Day, men and women, war veterans and children, would gather in the town cemetery to decorate the graves of brothers and fathers, husbands and sons, who had, again as Lincoln said in the Second Inaugural, borne the battle.
In time, parades were added and the day became more festive and less somber. Today it mostly marks the beginning of the summer season with blow-out sales at the big box stores and traffic jams on the roads to shore and mountain. More people show up for the super sale at Wal-Mart than to decorate the graves of the honored dead.
On Monday Becky and I will be on the front lawn of LPC watching the Memorial Day parade winding its way through the borough. We’ll enjoy a day off. At some point during the day, I am going to watch the video again. I will look into the eyes of those fathers and sons, brothers and husbands, struck once more by their humanity. I will be reminded that war is always a thing of the dispensation of wrath.
I will remember, too, that grace breaks into the dispensation of wrath, and that we are called , as partakers of grace, to heed Lincoln’s call: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds.”
See you Sunday
This week closes with a reminder of the great joy and comfort of the gospel.
The Heidelberg Catechism asks, “What is your only comfort in life and in death?”
We answer, “That I belong—body and soul, in life and in death—not to myself but to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, who at the cost of his own blood has fully paid for all my sins and has completely freed me from the dominion of the devil; that he protects me so well that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that everything must fit his purpose for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life, and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.”
Yes, this week closes with a reminder of the great joy and comfort of the gospel. Body and soul, in life and in death, we belong not to ourselves, but to our faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.
Pam and Casey Huckel, along with Mackenzie, Scarlett, and Felicity, welcomed Clementine Violet into their family on Tuesday.
Marilyn Franzi and her family said good bye to Marilyn’s mother, Betty, who died at age 94 on Thursday.
Clementine and Betty both belong to God. Continue reading
But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand. – Isaiah 64:7
Becky and I are celebrating graduations this month. On Saturday our son Christopher will receive his Master of Divinity degree from Gordon Conwell Seminary near Boston, and then on Monday our daughter Katharine’s Master of Fine Arts thesis project will receive final review at Academy of Art University in San Francisco. As a distant learner, she will not walk in a commencement ceremony, but by the end of the month the two masters will be done with academics and beginning next legs of their journeys. For Christopher that means a pastoral internship at a large Evangelical Presbyterian Church in the Midwest – can’t say exactly where quite yet. For Katharine it means continuing as an adjunct professor at Hillsdale College, but with new possibilities to explore with the MFA in hand.
We are proud parents, and absolutely proud of Katharine’s and Christopher’s accomplishments. We’re so thankful for Katharine’s husband Ryan’s and Christopher’s wife Katie’s amazing love and support as Katharine and Christopher hacked their ways through some pretty dense academic and work load thickets. Continue reading
Music and I have a difficult relationship. On the one hand, I like music very much. Hymns and psalms and spiritual songs speak to my heart as they tell of God’s love and sing of his grace. Hardly a highbrow, I appreciate the works of Bach and Handel. And while I may not be able to tell a Chopin from a Schubert, I think I like them both. I am all but illiterate when it comes to contemporary pop music, but I’d probably be able to name that Simon and Garfunkel or Beatles tune from the 60s or 70s.
As for jazz, I’ve never cared much for jazz. I don’t think I get it.
The fact of the matter is that music and I have a difficult relationship. I need to take responsibility for a lot of the difficulty. I haven’t spent much time developing my friendship with music. The presets on my car radio aren’t preset, and the CD player is rarely used. I don’t worry much about the storage used by the music library on my smart phone; it’s not a large library. I find the sounds of silence often to be more soothing than music on my playlists.
There’s not a single piece of jazz on any of my playlists. Continue reading
Sam and Debbie are great friends, the kind of friends that when you are talking you pick up right where you left off no matter how long ago it was that you left off. We first met Sam and Debbie 24 years ago when we first arrived at First Presbyterian Church in Menominee, Michigan. To say they are good friends is an understatement. Continue reading