Thursday's Thought for Sunday's Service 

March 2, 2017

Dear Friends,

This week’s Thursday’s Thought for Sunday’s Service is based upon Matthew 4:1-11:

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” (Matthew 4:1–11, NIV)

 

One of the things that lifts my spirit is listening to music, and on occasion singing.  Depending on personal taste, sometimes affected by other circumstances, a bit of music can really help when I’m feeling low, weak, or vulnerable.  Even though I’m not a trained musician, by now, my appreciation for, if not my repertoire for Church hymns, is expansive.  One of those hymns struck me during a worship service the other day, number 685 in the United Methodist Hymnal, “Now, on Land and Sea Descending.” I would describe it as a bouncy uplifting tune.  The words were written by a Unitarian clergyman, Samuel Longfellow in 1859.  He was also the younger brother of the famous poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  Samuel Longfellow was interested in the idea of God’s transcendence, or relation to the world.  I particularly enjoy the refrain, “Jubilate! Jubilate! Jubilate! Amen!  Let our vesper hymn be blending with the holy calm around.”  The first part of the refrain is repeated within all four verses.

Considering the context of the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, and how he fends off the Satan three times by quoting what was written in scripture I think about how that’s not always easy for me to do, in the heat of the moment that is… to recall an appropriate Biblical verse and apply it in a way that gives me strength and courage in the face of trial and adversity.

The field of marketing has long known that a catchy tune usually helps us remember a product, service or point of view and to motivate us to do something like purchase, practice, or proclaim.  I would argue that in a similar way, when we experience temptation, music and accompanying spiritual lyrics might provide a basis for tuning out that which is seems to be too tantalizing, helping us to tighten in on thoughts that target God’s greater power to lift one’s heart and mind and relate to what can be perceived, yet not quite defined… how God enables us to overcome.

Jubilate means, “Shout for Joy!”

       

“…Jubilate! Jubilate! Jubilate! Amen!  Telling still the ancient story, their Creator’s changeless love.”

“…Jubilate! Jubilate! Jubilate! Amen!  Cease we fearing, cease we grieving, touched by God our burdens fall.”

“…Jubilate! Jubilate! Jubilate! Amen!  Hope and faith and love rise glorious, shining in the Spirit’s skies.”

   

Pastor Rich Wagner