Sunday, November 28, 2010

Of The Father’s Love Begotten

Of the Father’s love begotten, ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega, He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see, evermore and evermore!

O that birth forever blessèd, when the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving, bare the Savior of our race;
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face, evermore and evermore!

This is He Whom seers in old time chanted of with one accord;
Whom the voices of the prophets promised in their faithful word;
Now He shines, the long expected,
Let creation praise its Lord, evermore and evermore!

O ye heights of heaven adore Him; angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him, and extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert sing, evermore and evermore!

Thee let old men, thee let young men, thee let boys in chorus sing;
Matrons, virgins, little maidens, with glad voices answering:
Let their guileless songs re-echo,
And the heart its music bring, evermore and evermore!

Christ, to Thee with God the Father, and, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving, and unwearied praises be:
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory, evermore and evermore!

~Words: Aurelius Prudentius & Music: C. Winfred Douglas

Friday, November 26, 2010

The First Morning

"The most wonderful moment of the day is that when creation in its innocence asks permission to 'be' once again, as it did on the frist morning that ever was."
~Thomas Merton

Thursday, November 25, 2010

His Mercy, Our Thanks

"We live and move and have our being in God, as indeed the whole Creation does. The whole universe depends on His mercy, and we humans appear to have been assigned the special task of articulating in behalf of all mortal creatures what the rest of them cannot put into words: supplication, thanks, adoration."
~Thomas Howard

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Poem: Thanksgiving Day

Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of Harvest - come!
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin;
God, our Maker, doth provide
For our wants to be supplied;
Come to God's own temple, come;
Raise the song of Harvest-home!

What is earth but God's own field,
Fruit unto his praise to yield?
Wheat and tares therein are sown,
Unto joy or sorrow grown;
Ripening with a wondrous power,
Till the final Harvest-hour;
Grant, O Lord of life, that we
Holy grain and pure may be.

Come, then, Lord of Mercy, come,
Bid us sing the Harvest-home!
Let thy saints be gathered in!
Free from sorrow, free from sin;
All upon the golden floor
Praising thee forevermore;
Come, with thousand angels, come;
Bid us sing thy Harvest-home.

~Text by Henry Alford, 1810-1871

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Eyes on Christ

O dying souls behold your living spring;
O dazzled eyes, behold your sun of grace;
Dull ears, attend what word this Word doth bring;
Up, heavy hearts, with joy your Joy embrace.
From death, from dark, from deafness, from despairs,
This life, this light, this Word, this joy repairs.
~Robert Southwell

Monday, November 22, 2010

Spirit and Flesh

“Other religions have their ways of coping with the division [division between spirit and flesh]. Most of them, one way or another, set the unseen realm over against the seen and end up denigrating the latter. For them, release, or salvation, comes when we are set free from the prison of this flesh and fly away into the Aether, or the Oversoul, or the All.

Christianity, on the other hand, throws up roadblocks to any such itinerary. It is heavy with physical, and even clinical, details. For thousands of years of human history, according to Christianity, the way was prepared for our salvation, not by the Lord God’s weaning men away from their physical life and teaching them to be spiritual, as the Buddha and Plato and other sages have urged. Rather, the way He laid out was crowded with altars of stone, and bloody pelts, and entrails and great haunches of lamb and beef, and gold and incense and fine-twined linen, and immense gold bulls holding up the brazen sea in the Temple. Doves, heifers, bullocks, rams—it was very crowded.

But that was all primitive. Surely something spiritual would emerge from those elementary lessons. Surely thoughtful men might anticipate the day when all of this would be put behind and be replaced with elevated thoughts and spirituality.

Indeed it was all put behind. There came an end to those gory altars and all that slaughter. But it was not a tissue of elevated thoughts that replaced them. Rather, an angel appeared to a woman and said, ‘Hail!’ What we now had, far from the summons away from the physical realm that highminded men might have wished, was gynecology, obstetrics, and a birth. Whatever we may imagine about the spiritual rhapsody that might have attended this angelic visitation to the Virgin, the one thing we know to have occurred was a conception. The Virgins womb teemed.

It was embarrassing to the religious mind. It proved a scandal. The whole ensuing story bothered and even enraged religious men, and it has continued to do so. Christian history is littered not only with the bones of martyrs who have died at the hands of enemies who hated this story but also with the confused and heretical attempts of Christians themselves to skirt it. Seizing on Saint Paul’s vocabulary and wrenching it about, they have tried to pit the spiritual against the physical and have tried to make Christianity like Buddhism, a religion that summons us away from earthly, earthy life.”
~Thomas Howard

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Early Christian Hymn

O God, we praise Thee, and acknowledge Thee to be the supreme Lord.
Everlasting Father, all the earth worships Thee.
All the Angels, the heavens and all angelic powers,
All the Cherubim and Seraphim, continuously cry to Thee:
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts!
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Thy glory.
The glorious choir of the Apostles,
The wonderful company of Prophets,
The white-robed army of Martyrs, praise Thee.
Holy Church throughout the world acknowledges Thee:
The Father of infinite Majesty;
Thy adorable, true and only Son;
Also the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
O Christ, Thou art the King of glory!
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When Thou tookest it upon Thyself to deliver man,
Thou didst not disdain the Virgin's womb.
Having overcome the sting of death, Thou opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all
believers.
Thou sitest at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.
We believe that Thou willst come to be our Judge.
We, therefore, beg Thee to help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy
Precious Blood.
Let them be numbered with Thy Saints in everlasting glory.

Save Thy people, O Lord, and bless Thy inheritance!
Govern them, and raise them up forever.

Every day we thank Thee.
And we praise Thy Name forever, yes, forever and ever.

O Lord, deign to keep us from sin this day.
Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.

Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in Thee.
O Lord, in Thee I have put my trust; let me never be put to shame.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Creation

“The Creation rushes from His superabundant freedom and love and cries out in exultation to Him. No least thing is silent. The timid and beady eye of the fieldmouse, the fife of the winter wren, the bubbling of water falling over rocks or boiling in a kettle, roars of laughter from a room full of friends, the murmur of a loved one’s voice: what does it all say but ‘Hosanna!’”
~Thomas Howard

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Travelling

“A much travelled man knows many things,
and a man of great experience will talk sound sense.
Someone who has never had his trials knows little;
but the travelled man is master of every situation.
I have seen many things on my travels,
I have understood more than I can put into words.
I have often been in danger of death,
but I have been spared, and this is why:
the spirit of those who fear the Lord can survive,
for their hope is in someone with power to save them.
The man who fears the Lord will not be faint-hearted,
will not be daunted since the Lord is his hope.
Happy the soul of the man who fears the Lord.
On whom does he rely? Who supports him?
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who love Him,
He is their powerful protection and their strong support,
their screen from the desert wind, their shelter from the midday sun,
a guard against stumbling, an assurance against a fall.
He revives the spirit and brightens the eyes,
He gives healing, life and blessing.”
~Ben Sira

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Behold, Your King

Behold, your king is coming to you, the Holy One, the Savior

“Let us say to Christ: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel. Let us hold before him like palm branches those final words inscribed above the cross. Let us show him honour, not with olive branches but with the splendour of merciful deeds to one another. Let us spread the thoughts and desires of our hearts under his feet like garments, so that entering us with the whole of his being, he may draw the whole of our being into himself and place the whole of his in us. Let us say to Zion in the words of the prophet: Have courage, daughter of Zion, do not be afraid. Behold, your king comes to you, humble and mounted on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.
~St. Andrew of Crete

Monday, November 15, 2010

Always Endless

Augustine tells of a vision of seeing a little boy at a beach scooping up the ocean thimbleful by thimbleful and emptying it out on the sand. Then he sees an angel who tells him that this boy will have emptied out the entire ocean long before Augustine has exhausted what can be said about God.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Come, Thou Almighty King

Come, Thou almighty King,
Help us Thy Name to sing, help us to praise!
Father all glorious, o’er all victorious,
Come and reign over us, Ancient of Days!

Come, Thou incarnate Word,
Gird on Thy mighty sword, our prayer attend!
Come, and Thy people bless, and give Thy Word success,
Spirit of holiness, on us descend!

Come, holy Comforter,
Thy sacred witness bear in this glad hour.
Thou who almighty art, now rule in every heart,
And ne’er from us depart, Spirit of power!

To Thee, great One in Three,
Eternal praises be, hence, evermore.
Thy sovereign majesty may we in glory see,
And to eternity love and adore!

Words: Either Anonymous or Charles Wesley & Music: Felice de Giardini

Friday, November 12, 2010

Autumn

“A few days ago I walked along the edge of the lake and was treated to the crunch and rustle of leaves with each step I made. The acoustics of this season are different and all sounds, no matter how hushed, are as crisp as autumn air.”
~Eric Sloane

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Proverb

Keep your heart with all vigilance; for from it flow the springs of life.
~Proverbs 4:23

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What Wondrous Love Is This?

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.

To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing.
To God and to the Lamb Who is the great “I Am”;
While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing;
While millions join the theme, I will sing.

And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on.
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on.

~Words: Alexander Means & Music: William Walker

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Give Me Grace

Jesus Christ said, When ye stand praying, forgive, if you have ought against any.
O God, give me grace now so to do.

Jesus Christ said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
O God, give me grace to-day to think, not of what I can get, but of what I can give.

Jesus Christ said, When thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.
O God, grant that what I give may be given without self-congratulation, and without thought of praise or reward.

Jesus Christ said, Enter ye in at the strait gate.
O God, give me grace this day to keep to the narrow path of duty and honourable dealing.

Jesus Christ said, Judge not.
O God, give me grace this day first to cast out the beam out of my own eye, before I regard the mote that is in my brother’s eye.

Jesus Christ said, What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
O God, give me grace so to live this day that, whatever else I lose, I may not lose my soul.
~John Baillie

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What the LORD Asks

What is good has been explained to you, man; this is what the LORD asks of you: only this, to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God.
~Micah 6:8

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Blessed Are They That Dwell In Thy House

“[Samuel’s] mother had ‘given him unto the Lord all the days of his life,’ [1 Sam. i. 11.] by a solemn vow before his birth; and in him, if in any one, were fulfilled the words of the Psalmist, "Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house, they will be always praising Thee." [Ps. lxxxiv. 4.]

Such a constant abode in God's house would make common minds only familiar with holy things, and irreverent; but where God's grace is present in the heart, the effect is the reverse; which we might be sure would happen in the case of Samuel. ‘The Lord was with him,’ we are told; and therefore the more the outward signs of that Lord met his eye, the more reverent he became, not the more presuming. The more he acquainted himself with God, the greater would be his awe and holy fear.”
~John Henry Newman

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thoughts on TV, Advertising, Worship...

“…Besides extensively depriving our culture of exposition, television’s nature also intensifies the appeal to emotions. Its images distort watchers’ ability to reason and justify choices. Earlier advertisements laid out facts so that buyers could make decisions on the basis of qualities in what was being sold, but by the turn of the century ‘advertising became one part depth psychology, one part aesthetic theory,’ and reason had to move elsewhere. Thus television ushered in a major revision in methods. Indeed, an ad:

‘is not at all about the character of products to be consumed. It is about the character of the consumers of products. Images of movie stars and famous athletes, of serene lakes and macho fishing trips, of elegant dinners and romantic interludes, of happy families packing their station wagons for picnic in the country—these tell nothing about the products being sold. But they tell everything about the fears, fancies and dreams of those who might buy them. What the advertiser needs to know is not what is right about the product but what is wrong about the buyer. And so, the balance of business expenditures shifts from product research to market research. The television commercial has oriented business away from making products of value and toward making consumers feel valuable, which means that the business of business has now become pseudo-therapy. The consumer is a patient assured by psycho-dramas.’

Church leaders must see how dangerous such a method is, lest we be tempted to let worship also be ‘market driven.’ We permit that to happen when we study what the consumers/worship participants fancy more than we study what is right with God! Then worship, too, becomes pseudo-therapy and not the healing revelation of God.”
~Marva Dawn & Neil Postman

Monday, November 1, 2010

Jesus, Plant And Root In Me

I found this hymn typed out in the back of one of my grandmother’s old Bibles.

Jesus, plant and root in me
All the mind that was in Thee;
Settled peace I then shall find;
Jesus’ is a quiet mind.

Anger I no more shall feel,
Always even, always still;
Meekly on my God reclined;
Jesus’ is a gentle mind.

I shall suffer and fulfill
All my Father’s gracious will;
Be in all alike resigned;
Jesus’ is a patient mind.

When ’tis deeply rooted here,
Perfect love shall cast out fear;
Fear doth servile spirits bind;
Jesus’ is a noble mind.

I shall nothing know beside
Jesus, and Him crucified:
Perfectly to Him be joined;
Jesus’ is a loving mind.

I shall triumph evermore;
Gratefully my God adore;
God so good, so true, so kind;
Jesus’ is a thankful mind.

Lowly, loving, meek, and pure,
I shall to the end endure;
Be no more to sin inclined;
Jesus’ is a constant mind.

I shall fully be restored
To the image of my Lord,
Witnessing to all mankind,
Jesus’ is a perfect mind.

~Charles Wesley