Sunday, July 20, 2014

Phil Kniss: True confessions of a Jesus Person

Journey through Romans: We believe and confess
Romans 10:5-15

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[coming soon]

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So in this morning’s sermon
I’m going to talk about being “Jesus People” and “getting saved.”
Okay?

Of course, you know that’s not my typical sermon vocabulary.
So you’re probably wondering what weird road
I’m heading down in this sermon,
and at what point I’ll do an abrupt U-turn,
and you’ll realize I was just setting you up.

Except, no.
I’m not setting you up.
And I mean it, with all sincerity,
that I want us to be known as Jesus People,
and that we should all want to, and know how, to “get saved.”

I do hope, however, to give deeper and richer meaning to those terms,
more than what you usually associate with them.

The term “Jesus People” might not ring a bell
to some of younger people here.

But I’m old enough to claim to be a child of the 60s . . .
with an emphasis on the word “child.”

I remember well the “Jesus movement” of the 60s and 70s,
that swept through America and Europe.
It was the Christian segment of the hippie culture.
Or you could say,
it was the hippie segment of the Protestant Christian culture.

My conservative Mennonite grandparents, Lloy and Elizabeth Kniss,
in the early 70s, for several years, every Friday night,
welcomed into their home in downtown Harrisonburg
a group of JMU students who were Jesus People,
with long hair, short skirts, beards, beads, and such.
There in the living room, 20 or more of them sat around on the floor,
and Grandpa, in his black plain coat,
taught them from the Bible,
and Grandma, in her cape dress,
treated them to Mennonite hospitality
in the form of homemade cookies and punch.
The love between my grandparents, and these Jesus People,
was strong, and mutual.
I boarded with my grandparents for two years as an EMHS student,
so I got to participate in these amazing Friday night rituals.

I was never wildly into the Jesus People movement myself,
but I do have at least a little street cred as a “Jesus person.”
I attended a number of the yearly Jesus festivals in Orlando,
tent camping out in a huge cow pasture
with many thousands of other Jesus people,
raising my hands and swaying with the Christian rock bands,
earnestly taking notes during the Bible workshops.
In the 70s I pretty much wore out all my Christian rock records,
of Larry Norman, Daniel Amos, and Love Song.
Irene’s and my first date, ever,
was to a Randy Stonehill concert.
At least once I traipsed along with some Christian college students,
and we went witnessing on the beaches around Sarasota,
walking up to unsuspecting sunbathers
and presenting them with the good news of Jesus.

These are some things you didn’t know about your pastor, right?
All true stories.

But long before the Jesus movement arrived in the late 60s,
Many Christians of an evangelical persuasion,
had a genuine, and heartfelt interest
in witnessing for Jesus,
and helping people “get saved.”
We learned formulas for “getting” people saved,
like the four spiritual laws.

Another 100% true story.
I told this one once before, years ago,
when I could get away with it easier,
because my brother Fred was not yet in this community,
and in this church,
and it involves him, and implicates him.
But ask him later. I’m sure he’ll vouch for it being true.

One day Fred was in our back yard at home
having an intense private conversation
with his friend Corky Barnes.
I was about seven years old, and Fred about ten.
And I wanted to be in on whatever was happening.
Turns out Fred was witnessing to Corky Barnes,
leading him to salvation with the four spiritual laws,
or some similar formula.
When I got a little too nosey,
and started pestering Fred about what was going on,
and wouldn’t back off when he asked me to,
he interrupted his Christian witness long enough
to haul off and punch me in the chest
and knock me to the ground.

We lost track of Corky later in life,
but we think he may have ended up in Christian radio,
so maybe Fred did him some good.
_____________________

Nevertheless, all humor aside,
these seemingly simplistic understandings of salvation,
are not entirely off-base.

There is something about “being saved,”
that is simple, and straightforward,
according to the apostle Paul in Romans.

One could even say getting saved is easy.
Two things are required, according to apostle Paul,
Just believe and confess the faith.
Think it, and say it.
Romans 10:9—“If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved.”
That’s not so hard, is it?
Believe it.
Confess it.
So simple, it actually does fit neatly on a little tract.
And can be explained in a couple-minute conversation,
in a backyard,
by adolescents.

So easy, it can be expressed in a four-step formula,
with a few line drawings to illustrate it.

But . . . you knew that word was coming, didn’t you? . . .
but, something is missing in that formula.
It’s true, as far as it goes.
But it doesn’t go far enough.
If that’s all there was to salvation—
getting people to believe and confess the formula,
to think it and say it—
then we would go about the work of the church
a whole lot differently than we do.

But as it is, we know there is a missing piece.
And if you ask most anyone in this church what the missing piece is,
you’d probably get the same, good, Mennonite answer.
Discipleship.
Walking the way of Christ.
Following Jesus in all of life.

Anabaptists and Mennonites have tried to fill out
the rest of the evangelical message,
by emphasizing the costliness of being Christian.

Yes, salvation is a gift, of course.
But it’s a gift that comes with ethical demands.
Our salvation must be demonstrated by our deeds.
And where the deeds are absent, the salvation is a sham. It’s empty.

And we all know the deeds do not come easy.
Jesus said, “The gate is narrow,
and the road is hard that leads to life.”
In a way, we Mennonites have compensated
for an overly easy and simplistic salvation formula
by emphasizing the hard road of discipleship.
This emphasis on discipleship is a rich part of our heritage.
May we never, ever, lose it.
We need it now, more than ever.
And other evangelical streams today,
are recognizing this more and more,
and are exploring Anabaptist theology as never before.

But when I look at this polarity,
on one end the easy plan of salvation—believe and confess—
and on the other end, the hard road of discipleship—
I’m still left wanting something more.

Something doesn’t seem right about doing this balancing act.
Trying to make up for an overly easy way to become Christian,
by making it difficult to stay Christian.
Something doesn’t ring true
if remaining a disciple of Jesus
is like lugging a heavy cross uphill,
and becoming a disciple is a piece of cake.

Maybe, something is out of balance at both ends.
Maybe, in becoming Christian,
there is a lot more to believing and confessing
than what some evangelicals claim.
And maybe, in staying Christian,
there is a lot more grace and gift
than what we Mennonites think.

And maybe, I should repeat that.
I strung a lot of words together there,

Maybe, in becoming Christian,
there is a lot more to believing and confessing
than what some evangelicals claim.
And maybe, in staying Christian,
there is a lot more grace and gift
than what we Mennonites think.
_____________________

So for a moment, let’s think deeper about believing and confessing.
What did Paul really mean in Romans 10:9,
about confessing with your lips and believing in your heart?

Well, we’re just wrong if we think believing and confessing,
is nothing more than thinking and saying.

One reason some American evangelicals err in that direction,
is because something gets lost in translation . . . literally.

In English, the verb “to believe,” usually implies
we get our minds around the facts;
we are persuaded, intellectually.
But if we were all reading this verse in the original language,
we would see that “believing”
is exactly the same word as “faith.”
It’s just the verb form of the noun.
Like “catching” a ball, and making a “catch.” Same word.
We translate it “believing,”
only because in English “faithing” isn’t a word.
But it should be, to read the New Testament correctly.
It’s correct, in meaning, if not in grammar,
to say, “confessing with your lips” and
“faithing in your heart.”

And faith, as we know, and as I emphasized a couple weeks ago,
is all about relationship.
It’s about trust in another.

Yes, the mind is involved.
We use our minds to pursue truth.
And well we should.
We can’t build a relationship of trust in God,
without believing, in our minds,
that God is true and worthy of our trust.
But ultimately, believing in God, through Christ,
is taking a relationship risk.
It’s a “leap of faith” into a relationship,
with God, and with a God-trusting community.

That leap of faith is what Paul means when he says,
“believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead.”
Paul didn’t say, “Believe it, in your head.”
He said, “Faith it, in your heart.”
It’s not faith, until we go beyond saying, “Yes, I believe that’s true.”
It’s not faith, until it’s in our bones, and in our gut.
Deep, relational, risk-taking trust in the love of God,
as experienced and lived in Christian community,
is what Paul is after.
And it’s not something that can be written up on a tract,
or explained in four easy steps.
It is lived. 
And it is lived . . . on the edge.
_____________________

So that’s the “believing” part.
What about the “confessing” part?

Again, we have to get beyond words coming out our mouths.
Paul is not saying our salvation comes
when we can spit out all the right facts about Jesus,
when we say true things about who Jesus is.
No, truly “confessing with our lips that Jesus is Lord,”
actually says more about us than Jesus.
My confession of faith is my identity statement.
It’s a deeply personal and deeply spiritual
claim of a new identity for myself.
It’s an open declaration of who I am in Christ.

This kind of true confession does not get drawn out of us,
by giving us a formula to recite.
True confessions do not come easily or quickly.
True confessions do not fit on tract . . . or a bumper sticker.
We grow into true confessions.
We live into them.

This is what I mean, when I say we should become Jesus People.
I’m not talking about going back to the 60s and 70s.
I’m not trying to revive a fringe religious protest movement,
with a new vocabulary, or new styles in music and wardrobe.

I’m calling us to be genuine believers and confessors in Jesus,
and thus, “be saved.”

A believer
is one who takes a leap of faith with Jesus,
is willing to go all in with Jesus,
into a relationship,
and into a way of life without a guaranteed outcome.
And a confessor
is one willing to be counted, openly, as a Jesus Person,
is willing to identify with, and be identified with
the one whose radical life led him to the cross.

Paul writes in Romans that
if we confess with our lips,
and if we “faith” in our hearts,
that Jesus is Lord,
that Jesus lives and reigns on earth and heaven,
then, “we will be saved.”
We will be saved from our false selves we try so hard to construct,
because we buy into the lies our culture tells us
about what we need to be self-fulfilled.

It is with those meanings in mind, that I say, in all sincerity,
that we should aspire to “get saved,”
and to be a “Jesus Person.”

Becoming Christian, is a decision
to participate in a lifelong process of becoming Christian,
and to join a Christian community of practice.
I am Christian.
But still, by God’s grace, I am becoming Christian.
I don’t see a sharp distinction between
some quick and easy steps to “get saved,”
and the “long hard road of being a disciple.”
I think it’s all one package.
Being Christian is continually turning toward Christ.
It’s continually opening ourselves
to the transforming work of the Spirit of Jesus.
It’s the process of learning how to confess that Jesus is Lord.
And then taking that confession seriously.

Every time we make that confession, “Jesus is Lord,”
it ought to shake us to the core.
It ought to mean something new to us,
because of where we are at that moment
on the journey of becoming Christian.
Bit by bit, we find new areas of life to open to God.
And every time we do,
we discover a deeper and more difficult meaning
to that confession that Jesus is Lord.
and it ought to rattle us.

When is the last time you have been truly rattled,
by the very faith you confess over and over,
every time you come to worship, and join in prayer or song?

My challenge and invitation to us all this morning,
is to go another step deeper in our believing and confessing
as Paul calls us to do in Romans 10:9.
No matter where we are starting from,
to go a step deeper.

If we have never taken the leap
of believing and confessing,
maybe that’s our invitation today.
Which part of this Jesus thing,
even if it seems like a very small part,
which part of it are you willing to trust,
and say “yes” to?

And if you are a Christian well-advanced
in age and wisdom and spiritual maturity,
what might it mean for you today, in this season of your life,
to believe and confess more deeply,
and take yet another leap of faith?

Or, perhaps like most of us here,
if you are somewhere between the beginning,
and the final stage of the journey,
here . . . now . . . what does
deeper believing and deeper confessing mean for you?
Which part of this Jesus thing,
are you being called to trust more fully,
and risk more boldly?
In what way are you being invited to confess again,
“Jesus is Lord,” and to let it rattle you in a new way,
in this season of your life,
in this season of the church?
Are you being invited to confess once more
that you are all in with Jesus, and the Jesus way,
even though the end is not in sight,
and the outcome uncertain.

Maybe, if I’ve helped some of you redeem the terms
“Jesus People” and “getting saved,”
we can also redeem the old invitation hymn,
“Just as I am.”
Turn to Sing the Journey, #92.
Different tune, different context,
but the same beautiful, poetic, words
of wholistic surrender to the saving love of God.

—Phil Kniss, July 20, 2014

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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Phil Kniss: Captive freedom

Journey through Romans: We are free from sin, enslaved to God
Romans 6:15-23; Matthew 16:24-26

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...or listen to audio:


...or download a printer-friendly PDF file: click here


...or read it online here:


Two days ago Irene and I were in our nation’s capital
on the day our country celebrated “Independence Day.”
It was for a baseball game, and a cookout with our family,
more than for the holiday.
But we, along with most of you,
took a day off work to celebrate the day
we declared independence from England, our motherland.
We look back on that milestone with fondness,
and rightly so.
A few pertinent historical details aside,
it’s safe to say that Independence Day
marks our coming of age as a country,
when we realized we were grown up,
and mature enough to be out on our own,
whether or not Mama England thought we were,
or liked it that we were.

Ever since then,
America has steadfastly upheld the ideal of . . . freedom.
We have made it our business in the world
to be a global defender of . . . freedom.
Nearly every war we have fought in our nation’s history
has been hailed as a battle to defend our . . . freedom,
or someone else’s freedom.

In the news recently, due to all the violence and chaos in Iraq,
we’ve been mulling over the war we fought in Iraq for 9 years
under the banner “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
The government website for that war used to be freedom.gov.
There is a great deal of doubt now, of course,
as to what sort of freedom was ever obtained,
either for Iraqis, or for ourselves,
when we count the staggering cost in human life and dollars,
and see how fragmented and violent life in Iraq continues to be.

Similar questions could be asked, in the aftermath of most wars.
What kind of freedom was gained? . . . for whom? . . . at what cost?
And what new bondage do we now have as a result?

Not only in war, but in other global enterprises,
Americans are renowned for trying to export freedom.
And on the home front, we have virtually worshipped at the altar
of this noble, but nebulous, cultural virtue of freedom.

Now, I will go on record as saying freedom is a very good thing.
I know God thinks so.
The Bible is full of freedom stories.
The most epic one being the Exodus.
God was, and is, all about granting freedom to those in bondage.
In Luke 4:18 Jesus declared that his mission on earth was
proclaim release to the captives, to let the oppressed go free.

So do not think that I’m either anti-American or anti-freedom.
I want us all, people of all kinds, all over the world,
to be the most healthy, joyful, and liberated
citizens of the world,
and citizens of the realm of God.

But I do want to raise some troubling questions about freedom,
at least, as we often define it.
Because as followers of Jesus,
if we’re going to be true to God’s vision of human freedom . . .
we have be a little suspicious
of our Western culture’s vision of freedom.

We in the West have made freedom a virtual absolute,
the “be all” and “end all” of human existence.
We have come to believe that for the human being
to fulfill its greatest potential,
it has to be utterly free to be and to do,
whatever it wishes to be and to do.
The one and only limit to my freedom,
is that I can’t trample on someone else’s freedom.

As a moral principle,
that seems a little short-sighted.
The Declaration of Independence,
which we just celebrated,
insists, rightly, that all people were created equal,
and that our Creator endowed us with certain human rights.
Bravo!
But what it doesn’t give us,
is the deeper theological implications,
of having been created and sustained by God.
I wouldn’t expect it to.
It was a political statement, not a theological statement.

So let me add to it,
from our Judeo-Christian theology of creation.
As created beings,
we are utterly de-pendent on our Creator for all that we are,
and we are responsible to our Creator for all that we do.
The fact that our Creator gave us free will,
does not take away our moral obligation to our Creator.
I am morally responsible to God, for the way I live my life,
because that life was given to me by God.
God my Creator, still has a claim on me.
I cannot under-emphasize how much that shapes how I live.

God, who created all things, and whose character is love,
longs to be in relationship with us,
longs to be reconciled with us,
and longs for us to exist together in reconciled community.
God’s fullest intention and desire for us,
is that we find wholeness as individuals in community.

If we make individual freedom an absolute value,
with the only limit being,
not to violate someone else’s individual freedom,
we undermine the value of community
at the heart of the creation story.

I suggest that instead, we start with the creation story
and say that the only absolute value worth dying for
is fulfilling God’s intention for us as a people
created in communion with each other,
with God, and with Creation.

That makes a world of difference in our ethics, I think.
_____________________

That’s what Paul was getting at here in Romans.
You may find it helpful to follow along in Romans, ch. 6, vs. 15-23.
Paul talked a lot about freedom in his letters to churches,
including Romans.
It was a favorite theme.
Paul strongly believed in salvation by grace
through faith in Jesus Christ,
which led him to preach a Gospel of freedom.
Because salvation comes by grace,
and not by successfully achieving
all the rigorous demands of the law,
then we are free.
Not free, as in, now we can do whatever we please.
But free, as in, not under bondage from the despair and shame
that goes with trying to earn salvation through perfection.

That was Paul’s passionate and eloquent argument in chapter 5,
which we looked at last Sunday.
Salvation is a gift.
And confessed failures and sins don’t count against us.

Now, in today’s text, he quickly jumps in with a “yes, but.”
He says, don’t get the wrong idea about freedom.
Just because God’s gift makes us free from the guilt of sin,
is not a license to abuse the gift.
We don’t just live however we want to,
without boundaries.

Apparently, some new believers in Rome were so relieved
by this grace and freedom,
they threw caution to the wind,
and threw away their boundaries, too.
Paul says in v. 16, hold on a minute—
“Don’t you know you are still slaves?”
No, you’re not slaves of sin anymore.
You’re freed from that.
But you’re God’s servants now.
v. 18: “You’re servants of righteousness.”
In other words, servants of the right and of the just.

It’s a much better kind of servitude, Paul says.
But it’s servitude, nonetheless.
We are not independent, at all.

He draws a line, and points to the opposite ends, in v. 20ff—
slaves to sin, or slaves to righteousness.
He says, “Formerly, as slaves to sin,
you were free, in regard to righteousness.
Righteousness and justice had no claim on you.
You were free, as far as that went.
Now you are enslaved to God,
and you are free, in regard to sin.
Sin has no claim on you.

So which slavery do you prefer? (v. 23)
Slavery that leads to death,
or slavery that leads to life, and life eternal.

In Christ, we do give up a certain kind of freedom,
in order to gain, not in-dependence,
but a more rewarding kind of de-pendence.
In the words of Jesus, from today’s Gospel reading,
“Those who want to save their life will lose it,
and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”
_____________________

It’s always a temptation to think we become free
by tearing down all fences.
It is simply not the case.
We are free, but only because we get to choose our fences.
God is not a coercive master.
God is a loving master who grants free will.
Nevertheless, God is still a master,
with a rightful claim on our lives.
We are not free from all obligations.

It’s not just Paul and other biblical writers
saying that fences are good things.
It’s really a common sense conclusion.
Knowing and respecting our boundaries, our limits,
gives us a sense of identity and security.
We can never truly be free,
unless we know who we are, and feel secure in that identity.
Show me someone who is confused about who they are,
confused about who they belong to,
confused about our perimeters,
and I’ll show you someone who is living in bondage,
who is losing a healthy sense of self and freedom.

You with me?
I’m guessing you are, because it makes perfect sense—
biblical sense, and common sense.
Now, I’m going to make the opposite point,
and see if you can all stay with me.

Boundaries are also not the be all and end all for the good life.
Boundaries, like freedom, can go to seed, and do bad things.
Boundaries can also lead to bondage,
when they consume all the attention and energy
of an individual or a group.
If we use up all our resources and vision
obsessing over the perimeter,
guarding and protecting the edges of our identity,
we will almost inevitably neglect tending to the center.
And by center, I mean the core of what defines who we are,
and who are called to become.
An emphasis on boundaries,
without a corresponding emphasis on the center,
also leads to a loss of freedom
to be who God intends us to be.

The journey to freedom involves finding a balance between
tending to the center and tending to boundaries.

Does this sound vaguely relevant
to current tensions across the Mennonite family of faith?
I hope it does.
I can hardly turn to any text for preaching these days,
and not read them through the lens of our current context.
So let’s think a little about this text, and our context.

We can all agree, quite easily I think,
that good fences are necessary
for healthy self-definition
and healthy sense of freedom.
Where we disagree often,
is not only where the fences should lie,
but how we want those fences to function,
how high and wide and penetrable they must be,
and who gets the right to determine where they lie.

Different groups, different Christian faith traditions,
have very different understandings on basic questions of
who has authority to erect the fences, and maintain them,
and how much fence-crossing is permitted,
before our health and freedom is threatened.

Our history and theology and practice as Mennonites
make these questions challenging, for good reason:
Mennonites believe that how we live makes a real difference.
Doctrine is important, but discipleship even more so.
It’s not enough to speak good words about what we believe.
Ethics matter, and they matter in all areas of life.
We understand that authority does not operate top down.
We believe cold, hard, rule-making by leaders at the top
who are isolated from their followers,
results in bondage, not freedom.
We believe in communally-discerned fences,
in compassionate boundaries,
in a church where everyone contributes to the decisions
about how our covenant will be lived out.

So . . . for us, living peaceably, in covenant community,
is hard, messy work.
It always will be. It always has been.
We are not at a brand new place in the life of our church.

But it does seem to me,
that if we would spend our best energy, time, and passion
working out what our center is,
and working out what draws us toward that center,
then our ongoing community fence-building project
might have more integrity, and more staying power.
_____________________

Paul tells us in Romans 6, that by God’s grace,
we are free from the bondage sin brought,
and we are able to live full lives as servants of God.
God has a claim on our lives,
and we do not assert the right to live for ourselves,
since the fullest life we can live
is a life submitted to God’s agenda.

So the more we lean into God’s will for our lives,
or to use Jesus’ words,
the more we lose our lives for the sake of the kingdom,
the more likely we are to find our center—
both individually and as a church.

Individually, we will be focused on taking up our cross
and following as Jesus invited us,
and not living out of fear and self-protection.

Collectively, as a church,
the more we are willing to lose our lives for the kingdom,
that is, let go of institutional pride or self-preservation,
or securing our borders at the cost of mission,
the more likely we will be to have discovered our center,
and to grow toward God’s intention for our life together.

Now, I know this all sounds very nice . . . and simplistic.
Making it real, for us here, for us now, gets complicated.

Because perspective makes all the difference.
Where you sit determines where you see the fence,
and where you see the center.
The very same thing can look to one person
like an unhealthy obsession with institutional boundaries,
and to another person like a healthy clarifying of the center.
That makes our work challenging, to say the least.

But it also tells me that, like it or not,
it makes our continuing work necessary,
if we want to be obedient as the church of Jesus Christ.
_____________________

Many of you know that in the last eight days,
the main governing boards
of both EMU and Mennonite Church USA,
issued public reports of decisions made
relating to concerns in the church
over how we view same-sex relationships.
The specific questions they dealt with were different.
I won’t make my sermon longer than it is
by recounting all the details.
They are well-documented, online at their websites,
and in the church press.
But if any of you who do not get online,
and haven’t seen the statements yet,
let me know after the service.
I have some hard copies with me.

For the purposes of my sermon,
I’ll simply observe that the decisions reached by both bodies,
for this particular point in time,
elicited some sharp, disappointed reaction across the church,
by persons on both ends
of the conservative and progressive spectrum.
And it gave some reassurance to many others,
myself included,
that there is, in fact, a strong commitment by our church
to stay together at the same table,
and keep putting in the time,
and sometimes grueling effort and energy,
to do the important work of clarifying our center.

Maybe their actions did look like institutional self-preservation
to some of you.
So be it.
I don’t fault your perspective.
Maybe it did look like caving in to cultural pressure
to some of you.
So be it.
I don’t fault your perspective.
What you see is shaped by where you sit.
And your vantage point has its own integrity.

But what I am so grateful for in all of this,
and why I am more hopeful than discouraged,
is that we all still believe enough in this thing called church,
that we are willing to keep working at it,
even when the work is painful.

Some may need to walk away.
Some may feel pushed away.
I hope neither happens,
but I am realistic in expecting that both will.
But the organized church is still a voluntary association,
and we will make the alliances and affiliations
we feel we are called, and able, to make.

We are free in that way, humanly speaking.
But in our alignment with God, and with God’s purposes,
we are not now,
nor do we ever want to be . . . free and independent.
We hear God’s claim of ownership,
which our Creator has already made on us,
and we respond with yes, I am yours.
Do with me as you will.

I invite us to respond with this “I will”
by singing together a hymn text that is in our blue hymnal,
but which we have rarely sung.
It’s “Make me a captive, Lord.”
We decided to put it to a different, more familiar tune,
the tune of “This is my Father’s world.”
You will find this hymn in your bulletin insert.

The poetry is rich and meaningful.
You will want to read it again later,
to try to digest it all.
But let me read the first & last verse, before we sing it.

Make me a captive, Lord, and then I shall be free.
Force me to render up my sword, and I shall conqueror be.
I sink in life’s alarms when by myself I stand;
imprison me within thine arms, and strong shall be my hand.

My will is not my own till thou hast made it thine;
if it would reach a monarch’s throne, it must its crown resign.
It only stands unbent amid the clashing strife,
when on thy bosom it has leant, and found in thee its life.

—Phil Kniss, July 6, 2014

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