Sunday, October 31, 2010
Iraq and Afghanistan worry us by the day. Political pundits barrage us with field artillery of political negatives and fill the journalistic airways with toxic gases and ad nauseum reporting. This week’s election returns will leave half of us giddy and the other half having a gastric episode.
Today, Reformation Sunday, we celebrate Luther’s discovery in That Book, "the just shall live via faith"! Seeking dialogue on current faith issues, Luther tacked his topics on the door of Wittenberg Chapel, his famed “95 theses.” A little-known printer saw an opportunity to make a buck and printed Luther’s dialogue topics, unwittingly unleashing The Protestant Reformation, putting it beyond the control of 16th century public opinion censors.
Later, young Wesley experienced the truth of Luther’s discovery when he stumbled into Aldersgate Chapel. That experience with That Book led him to become a man of that same book. Wesley went deeper into That Book and his followers influenced a lesser known German Reformed pastor, a devout Pietist, named John Winebrenner. The zeal of this man provoked his colleagues, for when he secured some of Wesley’s Methodist preachers to help him in his revival work, they expelled him. Dedicated to That Book,Winebrenner later organized the Churches of God in North America--1830, known to some as Winebrennarians.
A convert to Winebrenner’s vision of the church was a young Ohio school teacher. His study of That Book led him to become a preacher-evangelist-publisher. His faith journey became an individual relationship with God that carried social responsibilities, a transforming experience. Following That Book led Daniel S. Warner to embark on his own reformation voyage of holiness and unity.
The prophets of old long foresaw this Word of The Lord unfolding in the fullness of time. The voice of Isaiah the Prophet still rings across the peaks, as he points to God (Allah, if you will), the One who is without equal (Isaiah 40:25). Isaiah further invited us to look into God’s creation. It is all there. Every star is in place (v26). Then, the prophet notes that “Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing” (v26).
On the strength of all he knew and could discover, the Prophet concludes: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (v31).
That favorite Scriptural passage from one of my dearest friends in her declining and final years still remains, Mother, Roberta McCoo, moved from her predominantly black congregation to spend her last years in our city, in my predominantly white (multi-ethnic) congregation. Eventually, I became part confidante, part shopping companion, part taxi driver, et al. In turn, she served as a Mother in Zion, a spiritually discerning congregational leader.
I buried Mother McCoo a few Octobers back, on a sunny afternoon like this, among the Oaks and Maples of southern Michigan. I remember her often and recall times we shared. One jewel from That Book that she left me was this favorite verse that served her so well on her faith journey: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
It worked for her! It has sustained me across a few decades, just as it fortified the prophets and a host of reformers across the ages who found strength for today and hope for tomorrow.
Somewhere along the way Alice P. Moss expressed it this way:GOD’S BANK AIN’T BUSTED YET
The bank had closed, my earthly store had vanished from my hand;
I felt that there was no sadder one than I in all the land.
My washerwoman, too, had lost her little mite with mine,’
And she was singing as she hung the clothes upon the line.
“How can you be so gay?” I asked, “Your loss don’t you regret?”
“Yes, ma’am, but what’s the use to fret?
God’s bank ain’t busted yet!”
I felt my burden lighter grow; her faith I seemed to share;
In prayer I went to God’s great throne and laid my troubles there.
The sun burst from behind the clouds, in golden splendor set;
I thank God for her simple words; “God’s bank ain’t busted yet!”
And now I draw rich dividends, more than my hands can hold,
Of faith and love and hope and trust, and peace of mind untold.
I thank the Giver of it all, but still I can’t forget,
My washerwoman’s simple words: “God’s bank ain’t busted yet.
Oh, weary ones upon life’s road, when everything seems drear.
And losses loom on every hand and skies seem not to clear,
Throw back your shoulders, lift your head and cease to chafe and fret,
Your dividend will be declared: “God’s bank ain’t busted yet!”
From Warner’s World,in That Book