Asbury First United
Text: Psalm 24 & Psalm 16
….Holy, Holy Holy is the Lord of Hosts..Heaven and Earth are full of God’s Glory…Glory…Glory..
The height of this spire inspires a sense of Glory. The majesty of this sanctuary evokes Glory. The prominence of this pulpit pronounces Glory. The beauty of this altar spells Glory. The enchantment of this church casts a spell of Glory and dispels vainglory.
It asks of us a certain height. So when at times the mob is swayed to carry praise or blame too far, we may take something…to stay our minds on, and be staid.
Glory warns us: your god is too small.
When we are tempted, in pride, to count our successes in inflated terms,
Glory says: your god is too small. God is love, not success.
When we are tempted, in fear, to fashion our own god out of gold and calf, Glory says: Your god is too small. You cannot create God. God creates you. God is love not control.
When we are tempted, in anger, to make of our own agenda—ideology, politics, art, and power---the providence of god, Glory says: Your god is too small. God is love not influence.
When we are tempted, in a time of national exuberance, to worship a tribal god, Glory says: Your god is too small. God is love not victory.
When we are tempted, in a horizontal age, to worship a lesser god, Glory says: Your god is too small. God is love not ease.
When we are tempted to idolatry, the making of our own gods, the man upstairs, the spirit of the age, the image of ourselves writ large against the sky, Glory says: Your god is too small. God is love, not self.
When we are tempted to forget the mysterium tremendum, out of whom we come and to whom we return, Glory says: Your god is too small. God is love.
Glory says: every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. Glory is embedded in our church, before our altar, underneath our cross. Dr. Weldon Crossland, and many others, labored a lifetime to provide a permanent witness to Glory. “When all things sacred were either demolished or profaned, this Church was built by one whose singular praise is to have done the best of things in the worst of times and to have hoped them in the most calamitous.”
…the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and all who dwell there in…be lifted up o ancient doors that the King of Glory may come in…Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty…
It took 30 years. Through a great depression, a world war, a period of inflation, and a baby boom (you remember the baby boom—one house, one job, one car, four kids per family). They came down the street in October of 1953. Some of us remember the day.
They came to give Glory to the God of Glory. They gave us our altar. They brought what they could, but they almost left behind a sense of presence. Crossland brought height and glory. His predecessor, Cushman, brought depth and presence. On the road to glory, they almost left Presence behind. You can only do so much.
…God is near to you…in your hearts…on your lips…I bless the Lord who gives me counsel…in the night my heart instructs me…I keep the Lord always before me…He is at my right hand…so my heart is glad…my soul rejoices…In thy presence there is fullness of joy…
When we are tempted to superstition, Presence says: Your god is too vague. Love is giving, not wandering.
When we are tempted on a Saturday night to do what we want when we want however we want to whomever we want, Presence says: Your god is too vague. Love is giving, not taking. Love is discipline not dissipation. Love is liberal not libertine.
When we are tempted to take lightly our responsibility to tithe; when an average pledge is $1000\yr, but an average tithe would be $5000\yr (I will sing the hymns, someone else may give; I will preach the sermons, someone else may give; I will run the meetings, someone else may give), Presence says: Your god is too vague. Love is giving, not tipping.
When we are tempted to squander our precious time (prize your time now you have it; God is a consuming fire), to dawdle and lollygag and meander—to let disorder swamp order, Presence says: Your god is too vague. Love is agape, not sloppy agape.
Bishop Ralph Cushman preceded Dr. Crossland. He was a man of presence and joy, a pastor, a shepherd. You know, in his book, he is with me every day: “O the sheer joy of it, breathing thy air, morning is dawning, gone every care, all the world’s singing, God’s everwhere”.
When we are tempted to make a god of misty, airy spirits, with no body and no life and no cross, Presence says: your god is too vague. Love is giving: God so loved the world that God gave his only Son…The life I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me…This is love, not that we loved God but that God loved us and gave his Son to be the expiation of our sin. If God SO loved us than we ought SO to love one another.
Glory says: God is love. Presence says: Love is gift.
Glory and Presence
Pulpit and Lectern
Preacher and Pastor
Transcendence and Immanence
Crossland and Cushman
High Altar and Shepherd’s Chair
Height and Depth
Sanctuary and Fellowship Space
Holiness and Gladness
Voice and Heart