God’s Gonna Trouble the Water on Palm Sunday! (4/9/17)

Posted by on Mar 31, 2017 in 1-WHY, Choirs (Music), EventAnnouncement, Worship & Prayer | 0 comments

A Journey to Hope (from cantata book cover)

Both services on Palm Sunday will be led by our choirs, and their message will begin with the announcement that  “God is gonna trouble the Water.” 

The services will feature a cantata called “A Journey to Hope.”  So how can “trouble the water”  be a picture of hope???

The Bible relates several accounts of where water was “troubled” to give hope and healing to those who had faith.  Water can be many things.  Water can represent nourishment, or refreshment, or cleansing. Sometimes it represents barriers and obstacles. 

The gospel of John (5:1-8) records an incident where disabled people lay around a pool waiting for the waters to be stirred (or “troubled”).  The first one in was healed.  In this account, there was one paralyzed man who would never be the first one in.  But Jesus came to him and shook things up…

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews.  Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades.  Here a great number of disabled people used to lie — the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.  When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?

7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”  At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

Through many uses of water, God has promised hope.  By surrounding us with water,  by sprinkling us with water,  by parting the water to grant us passage, God intervenes in  our lives.  Here are a few examples from the Bible…

Ex 14:21-22 21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.
Josh 3:11-13, 15, 17  See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you.  Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe.  And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord-the Lord of all the earth — set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.”

15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge,  the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, …

17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.

The lyrics from the cantata command us to take the same faith that these priests had and to “wade in the water…

Matt 3:13-17  Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.  But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”  Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.  And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 

John 2:6-10  Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.  Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water“; so they filled them to the brim.

8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” 

Mark 4:35-40  That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.

37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.  Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”  He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 

John 13:3-5, 16  Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;  so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.  After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you


Journey of Faith

In each of the above examples, God is challenging us to walk out in faith…  to “wade in the water.”  He’s calling us to trust Him and to take our faith into love and service.

Like the paralyzed man at the Bethesda pool, we don’t have to wait around waiting for something to happen.  God has already “troubled the waters” and set us on a journey of experiencing His love and purpose in our lives.  He invites us to walk in faith.  Here’s how the lyrics in the cantata put it:

Come ye weary heavy burden, lost and ruined by the fall. 
If you tarry till you’re better, you will never come at all.

During this season of Lent,  we have been on a Journey.  We’ve taken a fresh look at the Cross and at our lives.  Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy week, and the lyrics of our music will take us through that week. 

  • The Journey to Jerusalem:
          “There is a balm to heal the sin sick soul.
  • Palm Sunday: 
          “Ride on King Jesus!
  • The Upper Room:
          “I’m gonna sit at the Welcome Table.
  • Gethesemane: 
          “Rising now the hour has come… Father let Thy will be done.
  • Calvary: 
          “He bowed His head and died…  not a word.
  • The Tomb: 
          “My Lord, what a morning! … Jesus has risen as He said.

Holy week ends with the joy of the resurrection (“Great day, Great day!“) but it offers us a Journey of Hope which calls us to keep wading into the water in our daily walk of faith.


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The Music…

This challenge to “wade into the water” and to continue on our journey of hope and faith is presented in music.  Our choir director,  Sue Crispin, wrote the following introduction…

“A Journey to Hope”

Traditionally, our choirs have presented two special musical cantatas throughout the year.  Our annual Christmas Candlelight Cantata is held the Sunday before Christmas, and has been presented for approximately 90 years.  Over the years, during the Lenten and Easter seasons, our choirs have presented cantatas on an Easter theme.  The music of both times of the year has been presented through traditional music, and also contemporary music.  This Palm Sunday morning, April 9, at both services, our choirs will again present a message in music.  This year’s cantata, “A Journey to Hope” by Joseph Martin, is based on traditional Spirituals.

The African American spiritual is really one of the true folk song styles of our country.  Spirituals were sung as lullabies, play songs, and even work songs.  As slaves were converted to Christianity, often attending Baptist or Methodist Churches, their themes became “Spiritual.”  Some of the songs were even used as codes to help slaves escape north to freedom.  The Jordan River, for example could represent the Mississippi River, where slaves would “cross over” into the promised land of freedom, just like the Israelites did.  The spiritual style is the root of our Gospel and contemporary Christian music of today.

We pray that as this music and scripture is presented, your Lenten journey will take on a deeper meaning, as we walk that “Lonesome Valley” with Jesus, and celebrate that “Great Day” as Jesus is risen from the dead!


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