Praise to the Three in One

Trinity

 

Hallelujah, to the Three in One,

hallelujah –

 

Blessed be the Alpha, in whom at the beginning all was made

Blessed to the Emmanuel who came to walk with us

Blessed be to the Omega in whom it was finished on the cross

Blessed be the Comforter who with us stayed

 

Hallelujah, to the Three in One,

hallelujah –

 

Praise to the Father – On His throne

Praise to the Spirit who guides us amidst life’s strife

Praise to the Son who for us did atone

Praise to the Three in One that gives us life

 

Hallelujah, to the Three in One,

hallelujah –

 

Trinity a word in the Bible not to be found

But single terms of reality are not the test

But God’s three part nature in that book does abound

And at Jordan River all were manifest

 

Hallelujah, to the Three in One,

hallelujah –

 

Praise to the Father – On His throne

Praise to the Spirit who guides us amidst life’s strife

Praise to the Son who for us did atone

Praise to the Three in One that gives us life

 

Padre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Mistake

Anton, the maitre d’ was a stickler for decorum. So it should have been of no surprise that he had a fit when Simone came across as rude to the Taylors, regular Friday night customers.

It wasn’t that she had been blatant in her disapproval of the couple’s public embrace.  Her mistake was more of the “clearing of her throat to get their attention” kind.

Nevertheless, the damage had been done. It looked like she would be back to night shift at McDonald’s come Monday.

Padre


Secret Keepers Weekly Writing Challenge

(5) Words: | KIND | RUDE | FIT | EMBRACE | MISTAKE |

 

 

 

 

Advent: The Coming . . .

Advent is “the coming of a notable person or thing.” It is the expectation of something spectacular, and spectacularly the world is transformed. Lights, lights, and more lights mark the expectation. Quiet suburban streets are transfigured into something resembling a Tokyo business district, a world of incandescent glory.

But what is the great expectation for? Is Black Friday a term packed with more meaning than first meets the eye? Is it a season bereft of any spirit other than hype?

Yet, in our churches, the very place where the true “Light of the World” is proclaimed, a ring of four simple candles, one lit anew each week marks the coming of “a notable person,” one whose arrival was first marked by a single star.

Padre


 

Inspired by Weekly Prompts: Advent

Visage

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Visage

I stare at an image greater –

Than Homer’s “Rosy Fingered Dawn.”

A vast illumination –

The very face of God.

 

Was this the self-same scene –

That met the eyes of Saul,

On the fateful journey  –

On the road to becoming Paul?

 

Glorious shining visage –

A light beyond compare;

What should fill me with trepidation,

Instead removes my every care.

 

So, I’ll stare at the image greater –

Than Homer’s “Rosy Fingered Dawn.”

And hold in my heart forever  –

The very face of God.

 

Padre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Taylor (Tailor)

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Artwork: Ludwig Johann Passini

This is an adaptation of a poem I wrote some years ago to honour a really inspirational man I had known as a teenager.  Brother Dominic was a truly humble man with a heart for God.  In this rendering of the poem, I have used the name Mattheus rather than the original Dominic, as I have recently used that name Dominic in a short fiction piece.  This is not to diminish the debt I owe to the example of Dominic in my own spiritual development.

Dom Mattheus is his name,

T’is twenty years since first he came,

To live his life by the Rule,

A threaded needle as his tool.

 

Repairing habits, sewing seams,

With lines as strait as any machine,

Each stitch an act of divine devotion,

By a humble man who sought no promotion.

 

To pray and stitch, was his daily task,

The chance to serve was all he asked,

Small tasks unnoticed, seen by few,

But by Him above, it is He who knew.

Padre

 

 

Praise God All Nations

Psalm 117 is the shortest of the tehillim or praises. In the Christian Bible it is the shortest chapter, and centre most chapter in the scriptures. Despite its brevity, it is a powerful statement calling the entire world, and not just Israel, to praise the Creator.

In the NIV version it is worded, “Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever Praise the Lord [Hallelujah].”

In two short verses, we are called to praise Him, and to recognise His love for us. It further emphasises his unwavering care and concern for us, even when we are less that perfect in our fidelity. To such a God praise should be unreserved. Hallelujah!

Padre

Easter – April 1st

He is risen! The day which remembers the pivotal event of history has come.  Jesus had been laid in the grave on the Friday, and His disciples were in hiding.  Many believed that Jesus had failed and that “It was all over.”

It is therefore interesting to note that this year, Easter (Resurrection Day) falls on what many see as “April Fools Day.”  Psalm 14:1 tells us “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” This coupled with  (the oft misunderstood) Nietzsche statement that “God is dead,” shows that the psalmist knew the minds of men.  For, when Jesus was buried, evil believed it had triumphed, but evil were wrong.  He rose!  They that believed Jesus had failed were shown to be fools, and they who proclaim the death of God this April Fools Day, are just as erroneous.

Below are two of Carman’s pieces that speak to this theme of evil’s premature assumption of victory.

 

This ultimate victory of Jesus over evil, sin, and even the grave is what we celebrate today.

I remember when I was working in the Chaplains’ Corps, that one of the chaplains captured the despair of Good Friday, and the victory of Easter through a symbolic, and absolutely moving pair of services.  On Friday the congregation held candles as darkness descended in the evening. The scriptures relating to the crucifixion, death and burial were read.  After each reading a row would blow out their candles.  Darkness was symbolically falling on the worshipers.  In the end, only a single candle was left burning in the altar area. The congregation departed, and waited just outside the door (as the chapel had symbolically come to represent the tomb).  Just as the final candle was extinguished inside, the doors of the chapel were pulled shut, and symbolically sealed from the outside.

On Sunday morning, before dawn the congregation returned to the doors, and as daylight began to creep over the chapel, it was seen that the seal was broken.  The chaplain then joined the worshipers outside (the doors still closed), and pushed open the unlocked doors.  Inside the entire church was lit with dozens of candles.  Light was everywhere, He was risen, victory was won!

The tomb was not the end.  “Fools” proclaim it to be so. But Jesus (and the Father) are not dead, but reign forever.

Padre

Commandments: Quotes and Reflections

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Commandments: commands, demands, imperatives, rules, or orders.  While the Hebrew Torah contains 613 commands, the tablets given to Moses contained ten.  These rules set literally in stone were to be the basis of the laws and social order of the nation of “chosen people.”

“If God would have wanted us to live in a permissive society He would have given us Ten Suggestions and not Ten Commandments.” Zig Ziglar  These same rules have set the basis of the Jewish faith, and have left an indelible mark on Christian belief and  practice as well.  Jesus did indeed sum up the teachings of the scriptures in a short two point model, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’  (Matthew 22:37-39).” It is on the first of these (covered by Commandments 1-4 of the Tablets of Moses which I will focus on today.

The First Commandment recorded in Exodus chapter 20 reads, I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me (verses 2-3).” God’s call here is clear.  He wants and expects an exclusive relationship with His people. Martin Luther (1483-1546) commented on the command’s purpose,  “Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God.” God, therefore, wants our focus and hearts to be with him.

The Second Commandment, “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God (Exodus 20: 4-5),” was reflected on by Thomas Watson (1620-1686), “In the first commandment worshiping a false god is forbidden; in this, worshiping the true God in a false manner [is forbidden].” The true worship of God is to be spiritual (as He is), bowing down to images, or sub-par replacements is onerous to Him.

The Third Command reads, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” We live in an age where you can hear seven-year-olds on the street uttering “OMG.” Yet, this flippant disregard to God’s dignity is prohibited by the Creator.  I have a great respect for the Jewish practices of avoiding the use, much less misuse of His name.  He is often addressed as “Ha Shem” (The Name), and even when the English word in which we entitle Him is used, it is often rendered as “G-d.” [See my post on Moses’ name and the relation with YHWH].   Psalm 139:20-21 even goes so far as to equate those who misuse God’s name with murderers and God’s enemies.  Yet in our society, “Swearing and praying are the two most common ways to use God’s name (Ray Fowler).” What a sad reflection.

The Fourth Commandment,  “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work,  but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God (Exodus 20: 8-10),” rounds out our commands relating to our relationship with God.  It really is straight forward.  He rested, He calls us to rest to refresh and to then go on.  

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The effort to honour this was evident in my hotel in Jerusalem.  The “kosher lifts” or “Sabbath Elevators”  made it so no one would cause a spark to be made by pushing the electric button of Sabbath.  While some Christians have commented that the rabbinical interpretations of the 4th Commandment exceed the intention, it is nonetheless noteworthy in its attempt to uphold God’s edicts.

What is more practically impressive in this age of open 24-7-365 is the sign I saw on a shop door in Tennessee next to its Sunday: Closed notification.  It read, The day is worth more than the dollar.”  What a wonderful application of god’s principles!

I hope that we all can take some time to reflect on the message of the “Love the Lord your God” commandments.  I pray that we seek to practice them, and show our appreciation of Him who gave them.

I hope to post on the “Love your neighbour” commands in the future.

Padre

Harmony: A Heart for Worship

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Pastor Joe, our worship leader, asked me some time ago if I could prepare a lesson on worship for the worship team.  So after some delay, here we go.

In the Temple of Jerusalem the devotions and worship of the people of Israel were led by the priests and the Levites. While the analogy is imperfect, we today have a similar arrangement with pastors and evangelists leading the ministry of the word, and worship leaders, choir directors, and worship teams guiding the “praise.”

I will deviate here for clarification purposes. As I have already noted the analogy is imperfect.  While in the Catholic, Orthodox, and “high” Protestant churches, there still is a distinct sacramental role in which “priest-craft” is mandated, most evangelical churches, and those based on the fundamentals of the scriptures hold to a “priesthood of all believers.” It is in this sense that those proclaiming the Word, and those focusing others on praise are all fulfilling the “priestly role” of being a bridge between the divine and the world.

That said, the role of those leading the music, devotional readings, and other outward expressions of faith (dance, drama, and even the decoration and craft of the meeting house) are “Levites” in their duties.

Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, that the believers should “speak[ing] to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19).”

Speaking in Psalms is an interesting starting place.  A psalm simply put is a prayer set to music.  The term itself is drawn from a Greek root “to pluck.” The book which bears that name in Hebrew is Tehillim “praises,” [but contains hymns and songs as well]. One of these (number 100) encapsulates this meaning wonderfully, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.  Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing (verses 1 and 2).”

This 100th Psalm leads us to hymns.  These are odes or songs in praise of God. Originally a Greco-Roman concept in praise of the gods of Olympus or the Capitol, its meaning is still clear – “Singing the glory of the Divine.”  While psalms bear a connotation of praying accompanied by “the twanging of a harp” and thus possibly a solo presentation as well as a communal one, Hymns (and chorales) are intended to be communal.

Spiritual songs are as they suggest musical expressions which uplift the congregation either as individuals or a body.  These may reflect on our Christian walk, on our relationship to the family and to God, or to scriptures. Many of these scriptural ones are powerful.  Two of my favourites which illustrate their application are I John 4: 7-8 and Sister Janet Mead’s  rendering of the Lord’s Prayer.

But much can also be learned in reflection of the final phrase of the Ephesian passage,  “make music (melody) from your heart to the Lord.”  This musicality whether skilled or raw is an act of the heart.  It should never become mere performance!

So, whether congregational reciting of psalms (via Psalters, or more modern renderings), hymns and “songs of praise,”  or reflective spiritual reflections – the praises of a church are an uplifting expression of faith.  Those who lead and guide these efforts are every bit as much “ministers” (servants) of the flock as are the pastors, teachers, and evangelists.

King David saw this and applied the skills of the Levites to further the worship of God, In 1 Chronicles 25 we see,

“King David and the leaders of the Levites chose the following Levite clans to lead the worship services: Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun. They were to proclaim God’s messages, accompanied by the music of harps and cymbals. This is the list of persons chosen to lead the worship, with the type of service that each group performed: . . .The six sons of Jeduthun: Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah. Under the direction of their father they proclaimed God’s message, accompanied by the music of harps, and sang praise and thanks to the Lord. The fourteen sons of Heman: Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel, Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti, Romamti Ezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, and Mahazioth. God gave to Heman, the king’s prophet, these fourteen sons and also three daughters, as he had promised, in order to give power to Heman.  All of his sons played cymbals and harps under their father’s direction, to accompany the Temple worship. And Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman were under orders from the king. All these twenty-four men were experts; and their fellow Levites were trained musicians. There were 288 men in all.  To determine the assignment of duties they all drew lots, whether they were young or old, experts or beginners (verses 1 – 8).

These leaders of worship were also “workers worthy of their hire,” as 1 Chronicles 9: 33 notes, “Those who were musicians, heads of Levite families, stayed in the rooms of the temple and were exempt from other duties because they were responsible for the work day and night.” I was talking to a brother recently who seemed surprised that worship leaders could do it as “a job.”  Yet, here we have in the scriptures a sound precedent. Even if unpaid (or merely as an expression of their own devotion) these guides to our praises are worthy of our thanks, and recognition.

The body has many parts (1 Corinithians 12), and each has its role and importance.  For those who are called to be leaders in praise, whether in music, word, or dance, do so making the “melody in your heart.” For those of us who follow, let us share in their melody, and together live and praise in harmony.

Padre

Six Quotes and Reflections on Praise

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The Psalms give us the full breadth of human emotion.  The poetic words range from despair and fear to ecstatic joy.  It is not surprising therefore that they provide us with some of the most fervent calls to and examples of praise found in the scriptures.

  1. “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.” Psalm 100: 1-2

These calls to praise are a reminder to us that we should show excitement and appreciation about those things which we value. C. S. Lewis reflected that,

2. “The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about.” 

In fact, these expressions shouldn’t be mumbled or reserved,
3. “I like to hear ‘amens’ out there from the audience. If you go to a football game and don’t yell, then the man next to you asks, ‘Don’t you like football?’ We need to let all of our neighbors know we like God and His Gospel.” Marshall Keeble

These outpourings of our love and appreciation, are reflections of the joy and happiness we experience in our relationship with God.

4. “The happiness of the creature consists in rejoicing in God, by which also God is magnified and exalted.” Jonathan Edwards

Jesus made it clear that these expressions are proper and natural.

5. ” . . .the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’ Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’  ‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’” Luke 19: 37b-40

All nature, Jesus implied, calls out to God in joy, and Calvin expanded on this by noting that all nature is also a spark and stimulus to our praises.

6. “There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.” John Calvin

As we regard the works of our Lord today, let us not refrain from praising Him.  Let your heart and spirit soar and your vary being exalt Him.

Padre