Tuesday, March 23, 2010 

The Quote of The Week From A Friend On Facebook

Today’s quote of the week is from one of my friends on Facebook commenting on the recent passage and signing of the health care reform bill:

________________ As a Christian, I am sad that the government is legislating mercy for the poor and sick. We should be doing more of that.

'Nuff said.

Thursday, March 18, 2010 

Time Out Episode 57

Dan over at Necessary Roughness has the newest Time Out; Time Out, Episode 57 posted.

The Scripture reading for this episode is Ruth 1:1-18 and the hymn is “I Bind Unto Myself Today” found on page 604 in the Lutheran Service Book. This beautifully Trinitarian hymn is actually from the pen of St. Patrick himself.

I have it on pretty good authority that Dan and Kantor Beethe did an amazing job on “I Bind unto Myself Today” also known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate and one of the most difficult hymns to sing in our hymnal.

Be sure to stop by, say howdy, and thank Dan for doing such a great job on Time Out, Episode 57!

Previous Time Out episodes:

Time Our Episode 56
Time Our Episode 55
Time Our Episode 54
Time Our Episode 53
Time Our Episode 52
Time Our Episode 51

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Monday, March 15, 2010 

Lenten Thoughts: Not A Dark Place But A Place Of Joy

An evangelical friend of mine, who I had not talked with for some time, called me Saturday evening on her way home. She said that since it was such a long drive she thought she would give me and the missus a shout as she had a few hours to burn.

When she asked me “guess what I did this morning?” I gave my usual random off the wall quirky answer “uh, you killed yerself a couple of possums?” Usually when people ask me a question to which I know I’m not going to even be in the right ballpark I’ll throw out the color blue as the reply and just wait for the look of muted confusion. I get that a lot even when I don’t try goofy words or phrases for some reason… I wonder why?

Anyhoo, the appropriate answer to my friend’s question was that she had used the Lutheran Service Book that I sent to her a few years back. I sent her a copy so that if I was ever asked lead a morning devotion, as I’ve been asked to do on occasion, I would have a copy of the Order of Matins to start us off. For what it’s worth, if I’m not attending a morning service that offers the Eucharist I would much rather follow the Order of Matins instead of one of our regular Divine Services whether it’s setting I or III as is the norm in my congregation.

My friend told me she followed the morning prayers, jumped around a little bit and ended up meditating on the one my favorite hymns: O Dearest Jesus, What Law Hast Thou Broken by Johann Heermann. She stated that it was “a dark hymn but sometimes we’ve got to go there”. And that got me thinking…

For those of us that follow the historical church’s liturgical calendar we are now almost through the season of Lent. Lent traditionally is viewed as a more somber or penitential season of the Church year which has the hymnody and the passages of Scripture focusing intently on Jesus’ turning His face toward Jerusalem and ultimately His cross to atone for the sins of all the world.

While the most popular voices of Americanized Christianity have eliminated any talk of the cross and Christ’s suffering on that cursed tree in our stead for a false assurance relying of their own good works and intentions as well as changing the world with visioned purpose, Lent for the more liturgically minded is a time of looking to the cross with confidence and through the eyes of faith; seeing God’s love on full display in that all the Father’s wrath has been propitiated through the sacrifice of the Son.

Lent for me has never really been a somber time of the year. It has however been a chance to stop (or at least turn down a bit) my own sinful narcissism and look, as we are called to do, to Jesus and what He did and continues to do for us each and every day. This is especially pertinent when we gather together in His name to hear the Word preached faithfully and receive the Sacraments rightfully administered.

Any season, week, or day of the liturgical church year that is able to focus our eyes back on the Crucified and Risen Savior is not a somber occasion but rather a joyous one. Yes, the depths of our sins become more apparent as the blameless one takes all our sins upon Himself at Golgotha to reconcile us with the God the Father but that is the tremendous depth of our Lord’s grace and love for His wayward children. The wonderful thing about Lenten hymnody, whether it’s from the pen of Heermann, Gerhardt, or any of a multitude of fine church musicians, is that what at first glance appears to be dark or somber, when seen through the eyes of faith, is really a proper understanding of how far a merciful Lord will go to redeem those who He loves. That salvific love hidden in the form of a cross is joy to Christian, even in the season of Lent.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010 

Woman Sells Two Souls, Really…

From the I swear I aint making this up department the AP news is reporting that a women from New Zealand just auctioned off two souls suspended in holy water:

The rare spirits that went under the gavel at a recent online auction in New Zealand weren't aged brandies or hard-to-find liqueurs.
Instead, two glass vials purportedly containing the ghosts of two dead people sold for $2,830 New Zealand dollars ($1,983) at an auction that ended Monday night.

The "ghosts" were put up for bidding by Avie Woodbury from the southern city of Christchurch. She said they were captured in her house and stored in glass vials with stoppers and dipped in holy water, which she says "dulls the spirits' energy."

As a good capitalist I applaud her for making a buck. What I can’t get my head around is that someone paid almost two grand for two vials of soul infused “holy water!” Sheesh!

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010 

O God, Thou faithful God

For our opening hymn on Sunday we sang O God, Thou faithful God by Johann Heerman which can be found on page 696 of the Lutheran Service Book. What a great hymn! While not in Lenten section (we are in Lent ya know!) of the hymnal what a terrific hymn to sing this time of the year.

What struck me more than anything else was the last two stanzas in that they confess that which we hope for; the bodily resurrection after we pass through this life’s final portal. Take a look:

Let me depart this life
Confiding in my Savior;
Do Thou my soul receive
That it may live forever;
And let my body have
A quiet resting place
Within a Christian grave;
And let it sleep in peace.

And on that solemn day
When all the dead are waking,
Stretch o’er my grave Thy hand,
Thyself my slumbers breaking.
Then let me hear Thy voice,
Change Thou this earthly frame,
And bid me aye rejoice
With those who love Thy Name.

Maybe those stanzas stood out because this week marks a two year anniversery of the death of one of my oldest and dearest friends. Maybe it was because of the class I’m currently teaching in Sunday school where I remind the students over and over that our faith is, as the writer to the Hebrews states, a faith in things hoped for and not seen even as we study the historicity of the Bible.

Either way, the last two stanzas brought me comfort as I sung them with the assurance and confidence that no more does death have its sting thanks to Christ’s work on the cross.

Here is the hymn in its entirety:

O God, Thou faithful God,
Thou fountain ever flowing,
Without whom nothing is,
All perfect gifts bestowing,
Grant me a healthy frame,
And give me, Lord, within,
A conscience free from blame,
A soul unhurt by gain.

And grant me, Lord, to do,
With ready heart and willing,
Whate’er Thou shalt command,
My calling here fulfilling;
And do it when I ought,
With zeal and joyfulness,
And bless the work I’ve wrought,
For Thou must give success.

Oh, let me never speak
What bounds of truth exceedeth;
Grant that no idle word
From out my mouth proceedeth;
And then, when in my place
I must and ought to speak,
My words grant power and grace
Lest I offend the weak.

If dangers gather round,
Still keep me calm and fearless;
Help me to bear the cross
When life is dark and cheerless,
To overcome my foe
With words and actions kind;
When counsel I would know,
Good counsel let me find.

And let me with all men,
As far as in me lieth,
In peace and friendship live,
And if Thy gift supplieth
Great wealth and honor fair,
Then this refuse me not,
That naught be mingled there
Of goods unjustly got.
If Thou a longer life
Hast here on earth decreed me;

If Thou through many ills
To age at length wilt lead me,
Thy patience on me shed.
Avert all sin and shame
And crown my hoary head
With honor free from blame.

Let me depart this life
Confiding in my Savior;
Do Thou my soul receive
That it may live forever;
And let my body have
A quiet resting place
Within a Christian grave;
And let it sleep in peace.

And on that solemn day
When all the dead are waking,
Stretch o’er my grave Thy hand,
Thyself my slumbers breaking.
Then let me hear Thy voice,
Change Thou this earthly frame,
And bid me aye rejoice
With those who love Thy Name

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Saturday, March 06, 2010 

The Quote of The Week From A Friend On Facebook

Today’s quote of the week is from one of my friends on Facebook commenting on the recent revelation that an air traffic controller let his children direct airplanes from the JFK tower:

_______ is marveling at how everyone gets worked up over a kid repeating ground control instructions when even the pilots got a kick out of it, while no one gets upset over the notion of a youth-lead worship service.

What a brilliant observation! Think my friend and I are being too harsh? I don’t, not at all.

Well, you see, I have some personal experience with “youth-lead worship.” One of the last “worship” experiences I participated in, before leaving the faith for fifteen excruciatingly long years of atheism, had the youth of my congregation running the entire service dressed up as clowns while late sixties rock and roll (selected by me) blared in the sanctuary. With the hope of being seen as relevant and cool; the youth group I was a part of was allowed to take the holy things of God and profane them for all to see.

Boy did we pat ourselves on the back that day. Looking back, it is one of the most shameful things I’ve ever done and as sinful as I am… that's saying a lot.

That singular event is one of the primary reasons I cringe every time someone explains that we need to stop looking so much like church to reach the so called unchurched. The less we look like church the easier it is to look like a bunch of kids in clown suits.

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
  • Confessional Lutheran
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