From the Editor. Questions about the nature of the relationship between the church and the state are perennial. Mediaeval history is riddled with the story of the struggle between these two essential institutions. With the growth of the administrative state in The United States, these questions are of great practical importance for Christians, churches, and pastors. David VanDrunen capably tackles this question regarding the subject of public aid in “Christians, Churches, and Public Aid, Part 1.”

I present Chapter 3 of my book The Voice of the Good Shepherd. Chapters 3 and 4 deal with the primacy of preaching. Chapter 3 presents a biblical overview. Next month I will look at the primacy of preaching in church history. In a day that diminishes the importance of preaching, Christians and their leaders need to be encouraged to highly value preaching, particularly the regular preaching in the local church.

Alan D. Strange continues his “Commentary on the Book of Discipline of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church,” with Chapter 4B dealing with the rules of evidence in the trial of judicial cases.

An Older Elder presents us with another letter to a younger ruling elder. “Prayer Work” expands on last month’s letter on the importance of a healthy devotional life, by focusing on prayer. These letters would be worth reading aloud at session meetings or shared in print with younger elders.

T. David Gordon’s review article, “Can Biblical Exposition Be Beautiful and Powerful?” looks at an important new book The Beauty & Power of Biblical Exposition: Preaching the Literary Artistry & Genres of the Bible by Douglas Sean O’Donnell and Leland Ryken. Artistry and the Bible are often treated as if they have nothing to do with each other. This book proves otherwise.

Christopher Chelpka reviews Illustrating Well: Preaching Sermons that Connect by Jim L. Wilson, in which the importance of illustrating sermons well is wisely explored.

A Treasury of Holy Week Poetry: Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Poems by Leland Ryken is reviewed by Mark Green. Ryken is a master anthologist with an encyclopedic knowledge of devotional poetry and literature. Now he hones in on the literature of holy week. This anthology is a rich Easter feast designed to contemplate and meditate on the wonders of the resurrection.

Our poem this month is “Death Is but a Comma.” It was inspired by John Donne’s Holy Sonnet #10 as interpreted in the movie Wit by Professor Vivien Bearing (Emma Thompson), who is an expert in Donne’s poetry, especially the Holy Sonnets. She lacks compassion, being cold and calculating with her students, until she learns the true meaning of Donne’s poem as she faces her own death by ovarian cancer. Now she struggles to find compassion. She taught that the last line of Donne’s sonnet has a comma and not a semicolon after “And Death shall be no more” and “Death, thou shalt die.” Helen Gardner’s edition of the Holy Sonnets returns to the original Westmoreland manuscript of 1610 in which there is a comma, instead of a semicolon, which was added by later editors. A comma, unlike a semicolon, is but a breath, and so is death.

Death be not proud . . .
And death shall be no more, [comma]
Death, thou shalt die.

Vivian dies at the end of the film, with her voiceover reciting, “death be not proud.”

Blessings in the Lamb,
Gregory Edward Reynolds

Ordained Servant exists to help encourage, inform, and equip church officers for faithful, effective, and God-glorifying ministry in the visible church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Its primary audience is ministers, elders, and deacons of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, as well as interested officers from other Presbyterian and Reformed churches. Through high-quality editorials, articles, and book reviews, we will endeavor to stimulate clear thinking and the consistent practice of historic, confessional Presbyterianism.

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