Take It With You 05.29.2022

I’ll be honest. After the horrible events in Uvalde, TX, on Tuesday, and as I sat in my office on Wednesday in front of my laptop preparing for rehearsals that night, everything in the plan for today’s worship seemed woefully inadequate. I mean, in light of this suffering how can we possibly launch into an upbeat “Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)” followed by a soulful gospel tune about “Honey in the Rock?” Really?

And Philemon? Only 25 verses in the whole letter? And mostly about a guy, Onesimus, who evidently did Philemon wrong, subsequently spent time with the apostle Paul who is now urging Philemon to take Onesimus back?

It all just fell flat for me and, moreover, seemed insensitive and out of touch… 


Hosanna…a cry, a plea…a word which means “Please, save us!” or “God, save us!” A hope shouted long ago in the presence of Jesus, a longing we exclaim in the presence of Jesus this morning.

Honey in the rock…from Psalm 81 which recounts the suffering of God’s people and God’s daily, faithful presence and care in the middle of it.

A word in Philemon translated “exhort” from which we also get the word “paraclete”, a word which also means “comfort”, “encourage”, “stands with.”

…Until the Lord reminded me that we gather for worship to tell and retell the story of a God who understands our suffering and, what’s more, enters into it. We do not serve and love and know a God who is far off and disconnected. In fact, God is present in all our moments, and your presence today reminds me of that as well. In our worship today we proclaim the sacrificial, incarnate example shown to us in Jesus so that we might follow Him as we embody God’s love in a broken home, a broken friendship, a broken city, a broken world.

See, from His head, His hands, His feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown.

God save us. Save us from sin and ourselves. Save us to life everlasting and to a love, Your love, that brings life and, working in and through us, is a living reminder that You are with us and love this world so much. In the same way we have been comforted, strengthen us to comfort, encourage, and stand with people who are hurting. When little makes sense, You are certain. Hear it from our lips again or perhaps for the first time: We love You. We trust You. In Jesus Name! Amen.

– Giles Blankenship