March 28, 2012 • Lent 37
Daniel 3:14-20, 24-28; Canticle 2; John 8:31-42
by Bonnie Willette
If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples…
In Daniel 3, we encounter the familiar story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who survived Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace by remaining steadfast in their devotion to God, singing songs of faithfulness and praise even in the face of uncertain deliverance. Yet, they refused to bow down to the Babylonian king’s nine-story high gold idol, and all witnessed a holy presence amid the flames.
The appointed readings have particular resonance right now for those of us in Cathedral Voices, our volunteer choir. The passages from Daniel and Canticle 2, along with the related “A Song of Creation,” are the text and subject of The Fiery Furnace written by former Cathedral Organist Richard Dirksen in 1962 for the dedication of the south transept. The two canticles are “Songs of the Three Holy Children,” attributed to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Voices will perform this cantata in commemoration of its fiftieth anniversary year on June 3.
The completion of the south transept with its 31 bosses, each corresponding to a verse of “A Song of Creation,” marked a huge milestone for the Cathedral, particularly since all construction work ceased during World War II. These limestone songs of faithfulness and praise took years, great endurance, and dedication to complete.
As a child, the sustaining message of the fiery furnace was: God will be with us. It keeps me going. In our last reading, however, Jesus reminds me that being a child of God is unfinished business; that I must continue. Will I sing songs of faithfulness and praise in my heart and in my deeds? This is my Lenten challenge each day of the year.