Hi! I’m Adam Brooks Webber. If you’re not already on The Merry Mystic mailing list, I’d like to convince you to sign up. You’ll get occasional emails about my new work, much of which is available through this site. When you sign up, I’ll send you a password to my Free Stuff area, which includes lots of free sheet music and other resources. If the emails don’t turn out to interest you, you can unsubscribe whenever you like. (And keep the Free Stuff password, of course.)
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My songwriting challenge continues this week. The subject this time is universal solidarity: a teaching that Jesus rarely spoke about, but often demonstrated. The hymn I’ve written has a sort of childish melody, because it’s about our childish impulse to exclude people from our clubhouse.
As always, sheet music for “We Built a Clubhouse, Snug and Tight” is available in our Free Stuff area.
Hello, Merry Mystics! My songwriting challenge continues with week three of my sermon series on the practical teachings of Jesus. This week’s message was about Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence, with several relevant scripture readings (Luke 13:31-34, Matthew 5:39-41, Luke 6:27-28, and Luke 22:47-53).The hymn I wrote to go with it is ”We Are Called to Solve the Problem.” I thought my congregation deserved a break from having to learn new melodies, so I used a well-known hymn tune (BEECHER) for this one.
I have been training in a martial art (Karatedo Doshinkan) for more than thirty years; I have a title degree (Renshi) and a sixth degree black belt. People sometimes ask me how it is possible to practice karatedo while also trying to follow the way of one who spoke of loving enemies and humbly turning the other cheek. I explain that it isn’t a problem for me, because the Doshinkan Karatedo tradition is not generally aggressive or showy. In fact, I find that these two parts of my life fit together quite well.
Each attack is like a puzzle to be solved: how can I resolve this situation with minimum force? How can I defend myself, and defend those who can’t defend themselves, while not doing unnecessary harm? To make it even trickier: how can I do all this, while helping the attacker on a path to health and wholeness? I don’t claim to be very good at such puzzles. But it seems to me that my training helps me learn to solve them—in a way that is entirely consistent with the teachings of Jesus, and of course with the teachings of many other religious traditions.
In the video performance of this song, my friend Ron McCutchan leads a congregation in singing; Charlie Gebeck is the accompanist. As always, the sheet music is available in our Free Stuff area.
We are called to solve the puzzleof each twisted human will.
We are called to heal attackers,not just hit back harder still. We are called to find solutionsto each fallen human state. We are called to break the cycleof returning hate for hate.
Every threat, a different answer,every lock, a different key. Every evil act a challenge:how to set that person free. Boldly speak the truth to power;meekly hear while others speak; dauntlessly insist on justice;humbly turn the other cheek.
Jesus taught an unexpected way to counter each attack: outmaneuver each aggressor,giving no aggression back. Even forced to walk a mile,simply walk that mile again. Even though the fox is coming,simply be the mother hen.
There is one who solves each puzzle, who can heal each fractured soul,
One who knows our incompleteness, knows the piece to fill each hole.
Knows the peace that makes us whole and, wholly holy, shows the way.
Called to learn that way, now let us to our Puzzle-Master pray.
Mellow greetings, Merry Mystics! My songwriting challenge continues with week two of my sermon series on the practical teachings of Jesus. This week’s message was about Jesus’ teachings on money, with several relevant scripture readings (Luke 19:1-10, Mark 10:17-25, John 12:3-5,7-8, and Matthew 6:24).The song I wrote to go with it is called “Don’t Let It Go to Your Heart”.
Depending on your definition of a hymn, maybe this isn’t one; it’s more like a ballad, albeit Christian and biblical. But we sang it together in church, and the congregation seemed to enjoy it.
In the video performance of this song, my wife Kelly Autrey-Webber leads a congregation in singing; Charlie Gebeck is the accompanist. As always, the sheet music is available in our Free Stuff area.
I’ve started a sermon series in my church: between now and Christmas, I’m preaching exclusively about the practical teachings of Jesus. The first one, just in time for the worrisome election here in the USA, is about not worrying.
I wrote a new hymn to go with my sermon. Here’s the text:
Let Worries Go
Let worries go, my anxious heart!
Let peace remain and fear depart.
Within the present moment dwell,
Where God is near and all is well.
Release the futile, foolish fears That blind the eyes and stop the ears. The future-focused mind will miss God’s present voice and present bliss.
When joys abound and blessings flow, In gratitude to God I’ll go. When troubles come and times are tough, I’ll go with God and that’s enough.
Oh, Jesus taught us not to care
What we would eat or drink or wear,
In each adventure to depend
On God to be our faithful friend.
To worry is to spoil and waste
A treasure that can’t be replaced,
A thing of high and holy worth:
A precious hour of life on earth.
In hymnody this form is called longmeter: four-line stanzas of eight syllables each. In my hymnal, there are at least forty melodies that would fit, including, of course, the Old Hundredth (“Praise God from whom all blessings flow…”). But I thought the subject needed a more fun and unusual tune, so I used an old Scottish border ballad, “The Wraggle Taggle Gypsy.” In the video performance of this hymn, my friend Ron McCutchan leads a congregation in singing; Charlie Gebeck is the accompanist. As always, the sheet music is available in our Free Stuff area.
These are the (mostly video) messages sent out to The Merry Mystic mailing list.
Sermons and Such
Every week, I preach in the Open Prairie United Church of Christ in Princeton, Illinois. I’m not sending most of these out to The Merry Mystic mailing list; but on the outside chance you’d like to see a sermon, here they are.