for Worship Leader - WL, and 3 other voices)
WL – The Voice of the Lord speaks through
the first of four “Servant Songs” from the prophet Isaiah.
1 - Take a good look at my servant. I'm
backing him to the hilt.
2 - He's the one I chose, and I couldn't be more pleased with
3 - I've bathed him with my Spirit, my life.
1 - He'll set everything right among the nations.
2 - He won't call attention to what he does with loud speeches
or gaudy parades.
3 - He won't brush aside the bruised and the hurt
1 - and he won't disregard the small and insignificant,
2 - but he'll steadily and firmly set things right.
3 - He won't tire out and quit.
1 - He won't be stopped until he's finished his work
2 - to set things right on earth.
3 - Far-flung ocean islands wait expectantly for his teaching.
WL - God's Message, the God who created the
cosmos, stretched out the skies, laid out the earth and all that
grows from it, Who breathes life into earth's people, makes them
alive with his own life:
1 - "I am God. I have called you to live
right and well.
2 - I have taken responsibility for you, kept you safe.
3 - I have set you among my people to bind them to me, and
provided you as a lighthouse to the nations,
1 - To make a start at bringing people into the open, into
2 - opening blind eyes,
3 - releasing prisoners from dungeons,
1 - emptying the dark prisons.
next song begins softly in the background)
2 - I am God. That's my name.
3 - I don't franchise my glory,
1 - I don't endorse the no-god idols.
2 - Take note:
3 - The earlier predictions of judgment have been fulfilled.
1 - I'm announcing the new salvation work.
2 - Before it bursts on the scene,
3 - I'm telling you all about it.
WL - Sing to God a brand-new song, sing his praises all over
(motion for congregation to
the Eder river”
Something very important in the Church
of the Brethren happened 300 years ago. To help us learn about
it, I would like to use a picture painted over fifty years ago.
It’s part of a series of pictures, called murals that are now
located in a meeting hall at Camp Alexander Mack in Indiana. I
once was a camp counselor there, and I remember taking my
campers to that auditorium and together looking at the history
of the Church of the Brethren in all those paintings. This is
the very first one. It was painted by a man named Medford Neher.
A Mural History of the Church of the Brethren,
©1953 & 2000 by Camp Alexander Mack, p. 6)
Let’s look at it. There are 3 scenes
on it, can you see them? There is one with 8 people gathered
around a table. There is one with 8 people standing in or beside
a river. And there is one with a group of people at the seashore
looking at a sailing ship. Let’s look at each one more closely.
Here is the first one. I’ve made it
bigger. It shows 8 people and they are studying the Bible (can
you see the Bible?) and praying. Their names were Alexander and
Magaretha Kling Mack (they were married, like the next 2
couples), Andrew and Johann Nöthinger Bohni, Johann and Johanna
Kipping, Georg Grebe, and Lukas Vetter. Now, I don’t know who is
who in this picture, except for the man in the middle. He was
sort of the leader of this group – Alexander Mack. That camp in
Indiana was named after him. The woman beside him is probably
his wife, Magaretha.
All these people met in Alexander
and Magaretha’s home to study the Bible. After lots and lots of
study and prayer, they decided to do something that was illegal.
It was against the law in Germany 300 years ago to baptize
adults who had been baptized as babies. They wanted to be like
Jesus, who was himself baptized as a man by John the Baptist.
“As Christ, our head and
keeper, had lowered Himself into the water,” they wrote in a
letter to their friends, “so must we of necessity, as His
members, be immersed with him.”
(Fruit of the Vine: A History of the Brethren
by Donald Durnbaugh, Brethren Brethren,
©1997, p. 28)
The second scene is of that baptism. It happened
in the Eder river in the town of Schwarzenau (can you say
that?), where they were living at the time. We don’t know the
exact date. They didn’t write it down. It was, after all,
against the law to re-baptize someone, which is what the word
“Anabaptist” means. People who practiced adult baptism were
called “Anabaptists.” Notice that frowning person in the
background? He didn’t approve.
All we know was that this happened sometime
during the summer of 1708. That was 300 years ago this summer.
This year, 2008, is the 300th anniversary of the
beginning of our church, starting with that baptism in the Eder
river. We don’t know who baptized Alexander Mack, they kept that
secret, too; but he baptized everyone else. Notice the Bible.
That was very important. Notice also that they are praying.
Prayer is important. Through reading the Bible and praying, they
listened to God, and tried to do what they heard God saying.
The last scene in this mural is of them later
leaving Germany for America. It was hard for them to live what
they believed in Europe. They started a brand new life in
Pennsylvania, with another baptism on Christmas in 1723, but
that’s whole other story.
Do you like these pictures? I hope so, because
I’d like to use more of these murals this year to tell you the
story of our church. Would you help me pray right now by holding
hands and closing your eyes?
Dear God, thank you for Alexander, Magaret, Andrew, Jo-ann,
John, Jo-anna, George, and Luke. They listened to you long ago
and started a brand new story. We are part of that story, the
story of the Church of the Brethren. Help us to listen like they
did, and follow where you lead. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.