The Rev. Randy Weber, preaching.
Sermon: Turmoil @Table
Text: Luke 7:36-50
One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.”Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “Speak.” “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet.You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Lenten Carol • Marc A. Robinson
Just As I Am • Bob Chilcott (b. 1955), Text by Charlotte Elliot (1789–1871)
Like as the hart desireth the waterbrooks • Herbert Howells (1892–1983), Text: Psalm 42:1-3
Pièce héroïque • César Franck (1822–1890)
"Just As I Am" is a well-known hymn text, written by Charlotte Elliott in 1835. In his book, Hymns and Hymn Writers of the Church Hymnary, John Brownlie says that Elliott wrote the poem in one sitting following a painful period of spiritual questioning and growth: “The troubles of the night came back upon her with such force that she felt they must be met and conquered in the grace of God. She gathered up in her soul the great certainties, not of her emotions, but of her salvation: her Lord, His power, His promise. And taking pen and paper from the table she deliberately set down in writing, for her own comfort, ‘the formulae of her faith.’” Bob Chilcott’s setting for choir and organ is powerful in its simplicity, allowing the message of the text to speak for itself directly.
In January 1941, Herbert Howells (the composer of the Offertory Anthem) was snowed in at Cheltenham, a large town in southwestern England, where he was staying to escape the air raids on London during World War II. Howells composed feverishly during the first two weeks of the year, which resulted in a collection of choral works simply titled, Four Anthems. Although all four of these pieces are regularly performed, it has been the third in the set, “Like as the hart desireth the waterbrooks,” that has become the most enduring (“hart,” by the way, is an Old English word for the male red deer). Written in a single day (January 8, 1941), “Like as the hart” is a simple but profoundly introspective setting of the first three verses of Psalm 42.
The Postlude was composed by the great French organist and composer César Franck, organist at the church of Ste. Clotilde in Paris for over 30 years beginning in 1838. Pièce héroïque (or, “Heroic Piece”) is the final piece in a set of three, the Trois pièces, which were composed in 1878 to inaugurate the new organ at the Trocadero in Paris. The dramatic piece is composed in three sections. An opening section with march-like accompaniment of two major themes gives way to a soft, lyrical section in the middle. The exhilarating buildup to the finale reintroduces the themes from the opening, and the piece closes with a dramatic fortissimo statement of the middle lyrical section on the full organ.