The Rev. Dr. Charlene Han Powell, preaching.
This morning’s text is from the Letter of Paul to the Romans as our summer sermon series, To Whom It May Concern: Letters of the New Testament, continues. The Rev. Dr. Charlene Han Powell, preaching.
Sermon: "Salvation: Part 2"
Text: Romans 12: 1-21
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." No, "if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Chaconne in E minor, BuxWV 160 • Dieterich Buxtehude (1637–1707)
Cantata, Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut, BWV 199 • J.S. Bach (1685-1750)
Fugue in C Major, BWV 545 • J.S. Bach
This morning’s Offertory includes two movements from J.S. Bach’s cantata, Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut (“My heart swims in blood”), BWV 199. Written between 1711 and 1714, this cantata is just one of several hundreds that Bach was required to compose for his position as concertmaster of the Weimar court orchestra in Germany. Each cantata comprises multiple movements—some feature a solo voice, some a vocal duet, and some are for full choir. While this morning’s performance will be for soprano and organ accompaniment, the original version was for orchestral accompaniment. The text by Georg Christian Lehms depicts a sinner seeking and finding redemption. Julian Mincham, one of the leading scholars on Bach’s cantatas, states, "This cantata, expressed throughout in the first person, is highly personal. It makes a clear and dramatic journey from the cesspools of sinful misery to the euphoria of redemption and salvation. It has no trumpets, horns or drums to drive its message home; they are not needed within this highly private context." The two movements from the Offertory today convey a shift in mood from misery and regret to joy and optimism.