Safe they feed upon the manna

September 12, 2011

All preachers need at least one trusted conversation partner
whom we can call in the middle of the night, if necessary--someone with whom we
can share our sermon ideas (they even listen to our sermons read out loud), and
from whom we can get advice and encouragement and even helpful critiques.

My dear friend Paul Hooker has been such a person for me.
Our friendship goes back 36 years, to the days when we were in seminary
together. Paul is an Old Testament scholar, a wise pastor grounded in the life
of the parish, and now the executive presbyter of the Presbytery of St.
Augustine.

I have always appreciated his critiques, and his help made
my Century column for this week far
more useful than it otherwise would have been. When he was pastor of the Rock
Spring Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Paul preached a masterful sermon on this
week's Exodus text. In it he quoted the John Newton hymn "Glorious Things of Thee
Are Spoken," which sadly is not as well-known as Newton's "Amazing Grace." The
hymn may be useful this week, especially this verse:

Round
each habitation hovering,
See
the cloud and fire appear
For
a glory and a covering,
Showing
that the Lord is near.
Thus
deriving from their banner
Light
by night and shade by day.
Safe
they feed upon the manna
Which
God gives them when they pray.