Enduring With the Saints

communion-of-saints-elise-ritterIn some ways, it can be easy enough to be faithful.  Some people find it easy to be creative.  To bring the two together in worship, however, requires insight and skill that is hard to come by.  In daily chapel toward the end of Winter Term, I was edified by the worship service faithfully created by a group of seminarians, in creative faithfulness offered to the seminary community as part of a class project.  Based on Hebrews 12:1-2, the service was centered around “A Litany of Endurance” by Seminarian Kyle Winter, the text of which is below.  The litany functioned as the primary proclamation in the service.  The litany’s antiphonal sections (“What is the cloud of witnesses . . . “) were spoken in unison by the class members who literally stood surrounding the worshipping assembly, representing the great cloud of witnesses.  The leader read/proclaimed the poem for the edification of those present.  I was edified, and I am very glad that the litany is now offered here for the edification of others.

A LITANY OF ENDURANCE

What is the cloud of witnesses if not the testimony of God’s enduring faithfulness to his people throughout time? He is most certainly to be praised by all of his saints, honored and blessed in each of them, because he foreknew them from the beginning of time and he chose them out of the world, he called them by his grace and drew them to himself with cords of love.

Do you remember the countless trials which his saints endured through the ever-present faithfulness of our God? Let me count only a few:

They were a nameless people on the brink of extinction,
yet under the countless stars,
they were given a name,
a heritage,
 a home.
They walked through the water
and they stood in the fire;
   wandered in the desert,
      and shouted at the fortress,
They danced like fools
as their God dwelt in the midst of them
And they wept in sackcloth
at the fall of their temple.
They mourned with bitter tears,
from the self inflicted wounds
   that led them into exile again,
         and again.
Finally they hung their joyful songs in the trees
as they sat by the rivers of a home
    which was not their own.
And they wondered and feared
that the silence they heard,
    was the very voice of God.
 

What is the cloud of witnesses if not the testimony of God’s enduring faithfulness to his people throughout time? He is most certainly to be praised by all of his saints, honored and blessed in each of them, because he foreknew them from the beginning of time and he chose them out of the world, he called them by his grace and drew them to himself with cords of love.

Yet God’s story and his people endured? Not through many but through one, not for one but for many. The enduring cord of love by which God draws all men to himself.
 
When all voices had gone silent,
do you remember how one voice endured?
Let me recount it,
remember with me how one voice,
    cried out,
in the darkness,
     amidst the animals,
            as the mother cradled the enduring little prophecy in her arms. 
Out of Egypt he came at his father’s call,
counting their wandering years step by step.
Through the waters he went,
with all of Israel in his train,
   As his herald raised the valleys
        and flattened the mountains,
            for the procession of the new kingdom.
He opened our eyes,
unstopped our ears,
    and loosened our tongues,
       to see what no eye could see
            and hear what no ear could hear.
Though in glorious splendor he stood upon the mountain, 
In love unknown he hung,
    scorned and dying,
as he set his throne on the soil of our earth,
         That all men would see the heart of God,  
              and the gates of his glorious kingdom would be torn open.
Summoning us to undying victory
            Along roads where no trumpets sound,
                Nor profits count,                              
                    But faith only. 
And we endure forever,
            hidden in Christ,
                 though the heavens and the earth shake
                      his kingdom shall not be shaken.
For God does not build his house upon the sand.
            Nor does his kingdom have an end.
And as His saints we lift our feeble hands,
Strengthen our weak knees, 
And share in his suffering,
               proclaiming the joy set before us: 
                      Christ has come and will come again…
           

What is the cloud of witnesses if not the testimony of God’s enduring faithfulness to his people throughout time? He is most certainly to be praised by all of his saints, honored and blessed in each of them, because he foreknew us from the beginning of time, he chose us out of the world, he called us by his grace and drew us to himself with cords of love.

 
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
            As it was in the beginning is now,
            And will be forever, world without end.
 
Amen!
 

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. Mike Pearson March 10, 2014
    Reply

    LCMS pastors do a lot of persevering:
    http://cslmedia.org/DMin/Pubs/Forms/clergy%20shortage.pdf

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