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Papageno

Karl Barth famously wrote that in heaven all the official music is Bach, but in private God listens to Mozart. I'm jealous for Bach, my favorite composer, but just listen to the second act of The Magic Flute. Is there any music sweeter and more joyful than that final duet between Papageno and his Papagena? Papageno, a baritone, is the comic birdcatcher who accompanies prince Tamino, the tenor and, ostensibly, the hero. Tamino is earnest and serious, while Papageno wears…
Daniel Meeter
January 30, 2011
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Observations on the World Communion of Reformed Churches

It was my great privilege to attend the Uniting General Council of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) in Grand Rapids, Michigan, this past June. I was able to attend only the first half, and I was not a delegate, just an accredited "observer" for the Reformed Church in America (RCA). But, while the full news and reports of the Uniting General Council are available from many sources, it seems fitting that I as an observer make a few…
Daniel Meeter
December 1, 2010
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The Ordeal of the Sermon

Every Sunday night I repeat the same dumb little joke. I say to my wife, "Hey hon, guess what I have to do tomorrow." She obliges with, "I don't know, what?" And then I say, "I have to make another sermon." Ha ha! I think it was David H. C. Reid who said that Sundays come at a preacher like telegraph poles through a train window. I know a Presbyterian minister who recently became a senior pastor, after having been…
Daniel Meeter
August 1, 2010
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An Unexpected Benefit of Weekly Communion

We practice weekly communion in my congregation, and one of the unexpected benefits has been the spiritual empowerment of my elders. They are becoming active ministers within the context of our services each week. When I accepted the call to this congregation eight years ago, I was up front with my desire that I wanted to institute weekly communion. My predecessor had prepared the way with seasonal weekly communion, such as every Sunday in Lent. The consistory went along with…
Daniel Meeter
December 1, 2009
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How A-Rod Can Be Saved

In the summer of 1979 I was watching television on a Sunday afternoon with Dave Henion at his house in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. Dave was an elder at the Riverside Reformed Church in Paterson, where I supplied the pulpit as a senior seminarian. We were watching the Yankee game, and the pitcher was Luis Tiant, and he was pitching a two-hitter. His fastball was hot and his curve was sharp and he was catching the corners. He was cagey…
Daniel Meeter
May 1, 2009
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Windows and Worldviews

In my childhood, when it was my turn to do the dishes, one of my diversions was to use a tall glass as an upside-down periscope. You know, you poke the empty glass down through the suds and you can see into the water and examine the stuff at the bottom of the sink. The cool thing was how the water made the forks and knives look bigger and closer. I offer this as a metaphor for how the great…
Daniel Meeter
February 1, 2009
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Tradition

Daniel Meeter For my morning devotions I pray the Daily Office. I had first started with the Roman Catholic version, but about six years ago I switched to the Book of Common Prayer. One reason I did so was for the excellent collects of the Prayerbook. A "collect" is a compact prayer with a specific fivefold structure of address, attribution, request, result, and closing. (See John Witvliet's introduction, "Collective Wisdom," in the Christian Century of July 29, 2008.) Collects came…
Daniel Meeter
October 16, 2008
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Watching the Anglicans

I remember during the heady days of ecumenism that one of the top Lutheran bishops was happy for the prospect of full communion with the Episcopalians because it took them one step closer to Rome. Well, the next step will have to be like Neil Armstrong's, because the American Episcopalians are still in trouble with Canterbur y. Bishop Gene New Hampshire (that would be Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson) was pointedly uninvited to the latest Lambeth Conference, which is a big…
Daniel Meeter
June 1, 2008
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The RCA and the Kingdom of God

I wonder how long the doctrine of the Kingdom of God has been disappearing from the Reformed Church in America. Of course no one would deny the doctrine, but it's hardly robust in the denomination, and it hardly informs or inspires or directs us. Yet it is the single doctrine most characteristically "Reformed." The doctrine has had its variations in the RCA. Orthodox Calvinists stress the "Sovereignty of God" and matters of divine election. Liberals and progressives stress the "Kingdom…
Daniel Meeter
March 1, 2008