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Wednesday
Jan272010

"The Incarnation, and Passion"

A poem by Henry Vaughan:

Lord! when thou didst thyself undress
Laying by the robes of glory,
To make us more, thou wouldst be less,
And became'st a woeful story.

To put on Clouds instead of light
And clothe the morning-star with dust,
Was a translation of such height
As, but in thee, was ne'er expressed;

Brave worms, and Earth! that thus could have
A God Enclosed within your Cell,
Your maker pent up in a grave,
Life locked in death heaven in a shell;

Ah, my dear Lord! what couldst thou spy
In this impure, rebellious clay,
That made thee thus resolve to die
For those that kill thee every day?

O what strange wonders could thee move
To slight thy precious blood, and breath!
Sure it was Love; my Lord; for Love
Is only stronger far than death.

Tuesday
Jan262010

Worship Time Warp

One of the aspects of Church history I enjoy is hearing about how believers of past generations practiced their worship.  Worship is something we pass on to succeeding generations, and that often includes passing down certain elements of worship.   Of course, not all things are worthy of being passed down.  However, it is an interesting thing to see.

Crawford Gribben in his book The Irish Puritans, discusses the Six Mile Water Revival, which occurred in Ulster in the early 1600's.  This revival was of a Scot Presbyterian nature, as many Scots came to Ulster to practice their faith in a safer environment than their homeland.  This revival initially began with dramatic, emotional conversions of individuals to the point where Gribben points out that it was necessary to attempt to discern which conversions were real and which were mere emotional experiences.  Isn't that interesting?  Even back then, there was a concern about the emotional element of  conversion.

Eventually, however, the worship settled down, and was very Word-based and systematic.  The participants did not sing with instruments.  Their worship songs revolved around singing the Psalms.  Initially, this was not always easy, because memorizing the tunes for a number of songs (remember, there are 150 Psalms!) was cumberson, but eventually, the Scottish Metrial Version (1615) enabled all of the Psalms to be sung with the same tune.  Now, today, we would positively cringe at the thought of singing the same tune for more than one song, but that demonstrates how so much of our worship revolves around the music as opposed to the words being sung.

Communion was celebrated more frequently, which is surprising, considering the commitment Puritans had to forsaking anything that resembled Romanism.  However, it was celebrated often.  There were also communion "seasons" which were celebrated, and which, again, sounds very unusual to our 21st century ears:

Because of the high importance they attached to the sacraments, Ulster Presbyterians celebrated the Lord's Supper frequently.  In 1624, for example, the neighbouring ministers Blair and Robert Cunningham held eight communions between them, all of which were regularly attended by the other's congregation.  Despite their frequency, these 'communion seasons' were protracted events demanding an intense concentration of time and attention on the part of the participants.  Preparation meetings would begin around the Thursday.  On Saturday the preparation sermons would last all day.  On the Lord's Day, the elements began to be distributed mid-morning and the entire service might last twelve hours.  Thanksgiving services would continue into the next week.  All in all, the best of part of seven days might be devoted to the worship.

This did not continue, of course, as the Presbyterians eventually celebrated the Lord's Supper less frequently.  Just imagine the reaction one would get today if this was proposed.  We get restless sitting in a service that lasts 60 minutes, never mind 12 hours.  Now, 12 hours does seem a bit lengthy (especially if done on a regular basis), but obviously people attended these meetings.

I have to say that the thought of singing Psalms appeals to me a great deal.  A few years ago, I purchased a book, Psalms for Singing.  I would love to see this in my own church, but it is always seen as "stodgy" or "outdated" to employ such traditions.  Oh yes, better to sing vague words that could be directed to my dog or my husband.  Anyway.  I know that a lack of good worship songs is an ailment in many churches today.

This Ulster church seems unlike anything we worship in today, but I think we could learn something from these people.

Sunday
Jan242010

Heart Aflame, January 25th - Psalm 11:4-7

He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them.  Nothing is hidden from God, and, therefore, men will be obliged to render up to him an account of all that they have done.  If God reigns in heaven, and if his throne is erected there, it follows that he must necessarily attend to the affairs of men, in order one day to sit in judgment upon them.  Epicurus, and such like him as would persuade themselves that God is idle, and indulges in repose in heaven, may be said rather to spread for him a couch on which to sleep, than to erect for him a throne of judgment.  But it is the glory of our faith that God, the Creator of the world, does not disregard or abandon the order which he himself at first established.  And when he suspends his judgment for a time, it becomes us to lean upon this one truth - that he beholds from heaven; just as we now see David contenting himself with this consolatory consideration alone, that God rules over mankind, observes whatever is transacted in the world, although his knowledge, and the exercise of his jurisdiction, are not at first sight apparent.

He approves the righteous, but hates the wicked.  God so inquires into the cause of every man as to distinguish between the righteous and the unrighteous, and in such a way as shows that he is not an idle spectator.  God hates those who are set upon the infliction of injuries, and upon doing mischief.  As he has ordained mutual intercourse between men, so he would have us to maintain it inviolable.  In order, therefore, to preserve this his own sacred and appointed order, he must be the enemy of the wicked, who wrong and are troublesome to others.  There is also here contrasted God's hatred of the wicked, and wicked men's love of iniquity, to teach us that those who please and flatter themselves in their mischievous practices gain nothing by such flatteries, and only deceive themselves.

For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice.  God graciously exercises a special care over the upright and the sincere, takes them under his protection, and keeps them i perfect safety.  All those who, deending pon the grace of God, sincerely follow after righteousness, shall be safe under his protection

 

Wednesday
Jan202010

Discipline

Discipline
by George Herbert

THROW away thy rod,
Throw away thy wrath :
                 O my God,
Take the gentle path.

For my hearts desire
Unto thine is bent :
                 I aspire
To a full consent.

Nor a word or look
I affect to own,
                 But by book,
And thy book alone.

Though I fail, I weep :
Though I halt in pace,
                 Yet I creep
To the throne of grace.

Then let wrath remove ;
Love will do the deed :
                 For with love
Stonie hearts will bleed.

Love is swift of foot ;
Love's a man of warre,
                 And can shoot,
And can hit from farre.

Who can scape his bow ?
That which wrought on thee,
                 Brought thee low,
Needs must work on me.

Throw away thy rod ;
Though man frailties hath,
                 Thou art God :
Throw away thy wrath.

 

Tuesday
Jan192010

Pronounciation conundrums

Rebecca, in addition to providing information about coyotes, posed the question as to the proper way to say the word "coyote." You must read the post and the comments; it's quite interesting.

That post led me to this question:  what is the proper way to say the word that describes a winding body of water that is similar to a river, but smaller?  I say the word "creek."  When I moved here to Southern Ontario, I was stunned to find people saying "crick" all over the place.

Anyone know what the history of that word is?