For the last four weeks, once every week, we've had the new Black Lives Matter sign on the fence outside our church slashed or stolen. Each week we've replaced it. Sometimes the Pride banner in support of our LGBTQ community is slashed, too, or ripped down and crumbled, or covered with White Supremacy stickers that our sexton carefully removes.
This week I've checked in with other downtown Boston clergy. Their signs also have gotten slashed. A few years back a church on Newbury Street had a defiant White Supremacist group climb high on a ladder with their knives to deface the BLM sign, at 7 PM on that busy commercial street. Now the BLM sign at that church is made out of metal, and hung where it is protected by metal bars. Two other churches told me their signs are hung high, out of reach.
We'll hang our signs higher, too. But make no mistake. These were deliberate acts of hate against our LGBTQ and Black communities, right here in Boston; we know, because the signs about our worship services that hang nearby, at the same level on our fence, are never defaced.
One more thing about which to make no mistake: we'll continue to stand with any who are despised, because in God's eyes they are loved. I'm proud to be at King's Chapel.
“Be Not Afraid,” has sunk deep within me; I sing this hymn often in these hard, uncertain days. In the next three weeks, we’ll sing it and discuss it at our Sunday worship services. The chorus is:
Be not afraid,
The lyrics are not Christian pablum. There is no glib reassurance that God specially protects me or you. Neither is there a promise of “easy chair Christianity,” with my feet up and me reclining comfortably. If you know the Biblical passages from which the words are drawn or listen with care to the verses of the hymn, you’d never make that mistake. Instead, this hymn invites us to a “rest” and fearlessness that come only if we reject the “conventional wisdom” of America, and follow instead the alternative, subversive “wisdom” of Jesus. It’s what I crave. What about you? For the full lyrics, click here. To participate in the contest to identify sources of the lyrics, check this out.
“Be Not Afraid” is written like Handel’s libretto in the Messiah, taking its lyrics from many different sections of the Bible and weaving them together with music to tell a powerful truth; 81 Bible verses come from 14 different book. For example, Handel takes one clause from the prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament, then later lines from Matthew, Luke and 1 Corinthians, in the New. Likewise, the 1970s hymn “Be not afraid” relies on central stories from all over the Bible.
How many sources can you find for each clause of “Be not afraid”? For example, “Be not afraid,” is the most used clause in the whole Bible – found from Old to New Testaments- because it’s what we humans most need to hear. Abraham, Moses, David, Mary, and Paul all hear, “Do not be afraid.”
“I go before you always,” is a phrase Jesus says to Mary in the Book of Matthew, after his resurrection (tell my friends I’ll go before them to Galilee); and in his final moments before the ascension (“I am with you always” ). It’s also said by God during the Exodus, when the pillar of cloud and of fire leads the people to the promised land.
“Come follow me,” is the great invitation Jesus makes early in his ministry – “Follow me, and I’ll help you fish for people,” but sheep also follow their shepherd in the 23rd psalm.
“I will give you rest” echoes from that psalm, and from the scripture we read this week, in Matthew, that begins, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” But it continues with the thought of wearing a yoke! “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Can you identify the source of different lines of the verses?
A Message from Joy
Like you, I miss worshiping together in our beautiful spaces, hearing our live musicians and congregational singing, and enjoying conversation during coffee hour. Now I preach to a little camera on the back of my phone and sing by myself while muted on Zoom. But I’m learning the unexpected benefits of our virtual worship!
5) No dressing up for church. Sitting on the couch in your pajamas with a cup of coffee has its
4) Worship any day, or every day. If Sunday morning isn’t convenient, tune in on Tuesday night. Short on time, the fast-forward button can come in handy.
3) Many more of you are worship leaders in Morning Prayer, because no one has to be at church on Sunday in order to participate. You can record your portion of the service anytime during the week and send it in. Since the church closed physically, at least 50 of you have read prayers or scripture.
2) Reading prayers aloud for others deepens the worship experience. It takes practice, slowly
going over the words, to give the readings life and meaning and with video, you can polish the
reading as well.
1) Morning Light can anchor your week – that’s what you’ve told us. Usually we pause the 9
AM service in the summer because so many worshippers are out of town. This year, summer
travel is irrelevant! We can still share our individual prayer requests together via zoom. Last
week we gathered from Philadelphia, Maine, New Hampshire, Cape Cod, Quincy, Back Bay,
and Beacon Hill. To join Morning Light via zoom Sunday 9-10 AM email email@example.com for the Zoom link. It’s a highlight of my week.
In the love of truth, and the spirit of Jesus Christ, we unite for the worship of God
and the service of all.
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