3rd Sunday in Lent

Sunday we continue our discussions of the morning service. Last week I mentioned the ringing of the bell and the confession. Sunday I will say a few more words about the confession and then move into the entrance rite, beginning with the Kyrie Eleison (Lord, have mercy).

In Luke 18:9 we read a parable of Jesus in which he tells of the worship style of the Pharisees. Then in contrast he tells the words of a tax collector who stood far off, would not  even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me….”  Jesus says that this man went back to his house justified with God, for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.

The Kyrie opens the heart to Christ. From our human vantage point it is the most important thing we say–or sing–all morning. Funny that in many churches, including Lutheran churches, the Kyrie is left out. At Easter we might leave it out, but as a rule the Kyrie is like our “ready position”, like a batter’s stance. We begin from here: Lord, have mercy.

Today the ELCA commemorates 17th century priest and poet George Herbert. The biography of Herbert shows a most accomplished man of letters, an orator and “poet” in a sense that we can hardly imagine in our time. In Herbert’s day, those who were called poets were masters of the language, in other words, cultural historians,  debaters, keeper of a society’s corporate memory which was locked in its words and literature. Born into a wealthy family, Herbert continued where John Donne left off, as priest and poet of Protestant England. He was named public orator at Cambridge, the highest honor bestowed on a  writer/speaker in that place and time. Later Herbert worked as a parish priest. He lives on in his essays and mainly in his poems. One of those appears as a hymn in our book of worship.  #816 Come, My Way, My Truth, My Life.

George Herbert’s life reminds us that words matter. Words have power to shape our thought, move us emotionally, carry the culture of a people, and even direct our hearts to God.

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
such a way as gives us breath;
such a truth as ends all strife,
such a life as killeth death.

Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
such a light as shows a feast,
such a feast as mends in length,
such a strength as makes his guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
such a joy as none can move,
such a love as none can part,
such a heart as joys in love.

About Peace Lutheran Church Wayland Massachusetts

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