Thursday, June 26, 2014


Rittenhouse Square, November 2013

Several years ago I had the pleasure of getting involved in a band. We were home grown. Friends. Originally, it was just Andy, Barry and me. We didn't have a name, so we referred to ourselves as the ABC Band. Andy and Barry were the real talent. Both gifted musicians. Andy played bass and keyboard and sang. Barry played lead guitar and blessed us with his amazing talent and giftedness. I kept busy with percussion and background vocals. Together, we practiced and performed . . . for fun and to the glory of God. As time went on, others joined us. Early on, Mari (Barry's wife) stepped in and helped to anchor the vocal section. Other friends joined in from time to time. We renamed ourselves Zion's Hill.

The band provided us all with a sense of healing and release in the midst of struggle and pain. We discovered that we could only do together what we were incapable of doing alone. 

So, this morning as I am remembering this time and reflecting on all that has happened since, one word from a song began to echo in my mind. Captivated. 

A song that Zion's Hill covered was All of Creation by Mercy Me. The second verse begins with these words: 
Captivated but no longer bound by chains. 
In the brief order for confession and forgiveness from our Lutheran liturgy, our confession begins with these words: 
Most merciful God, we confess that we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves.
Sometimes our language can be complicated. Communication can be a challenge. Being captive to sin is bondage.  It is deadly. Being captivated by Christ, being captive to God's love, grace, and forgiveness is healing. Oddly, it sets us free.

I have been transformed by this amazing grace. Not all at once, but again and again. God is relentless, patient, and faithful. And I've seen this same amazing grace work in the lives of others. My friend Barry was and is under the life-saving influence of this transforming love of God. Jesus is real, alive, and active in Barry's life today. Even in the face of recent sufferings as the result of several strokes, Barry is beginning again to make music. He continues to be grateful to his Lord Jesus for the healing he has experienced. No longer enslaved, yet captivated.

Who or what captivates you? As we live with the recognition that we are indeed still captive to sin and cannot free ourselves, how are we simultaneously freed to live captivated by Christ?  To what extent does this remain a struggle?

As you think about it, take a few minutes and listen to All of Creation by Mercy Me.

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Everyone involved with Vacation Bible School throughout this week is having a blast. Our last session is this-evening (Thursday).  Rumor has it that there will be ice-cream! We are looking forward to sharing some of the music we learned throughout the week in worship on Sunday. Please plan to be there. We are in this together. 

Thank you to everyone who was involved with VBS this year.  It was a joy to welcome everyone here and also meet some new friends visiting from surrounding neighborhoods!

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Third Sunday after Pentecost
June 29, 2014

Jeremiah 28:5-9
Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18
Romans 6:12-23
Matthew 10:40-42

Prayer of the Day
O God, you direct our lives by your grace,
and your words of justice and mercy reshape the world.
Mold us into people who welcome your word and serve one another, 
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen 

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