The Jury Talks Back


Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 136

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 12:01 am

It is the third Sunday of Advent. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Erforsche mich, Gott, und erfahre mein Herz” (Examine me, God, and know my heart).

Today’s Gospel reading is Luke 3:7-18:

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

“What should we do then?” the crowd asked.

John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”

“Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.

Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”

He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words:

Search me, God, and determine my heart; test me and determine what I think!

Alas, that the curse, which strikes the earth there,
also hits the heart of these people!
Who can hope for good fruit,
where this curse reaches even to the soul,
so that it brings the thorns of sin
and bears the pricks of blasphemy.
Yet often the children of hell wish
to represent themselves as angels of light;
so that among these corrupted beings
grapes might be gleaned from these thorns .
A wolf might conceal himself with a pure wool cloak,
yet a day will dawn,
which will be to you, you hypocrites, a terror,
indeed unbearable.

A day will come,
when the Hidden One will judge,
before which hypocrisy may well tremble.
For the wrath of His vengeance will annihilate
what hypocrisy and deceit fashion.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

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