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Lo, he comes with clouds descending

Lo, he comes with clouds descending,
Once for favoured sinners slain;
Thousand thousand saints attending,
Swell the triumph of his train:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
God appears on earth to reign.

Ev'ry eye shall now behold him,
Robed in dreadful majesty;
Those who set at naught and sold him,
Pierced and nailed him to the tree,
Deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
Shall the true Messiah see.

Ev'ry island, sea, and mountain,
Heav'n and earth shall flee away;
All who hate him must, confounded,
Hear the trump proclaim the day;
Come to judgment! Come to judgment!
Come to judgment, come away!

Now redemption, long expected,
See in solemn pomp appear!
All his saints, by man rejected,
Now shall meet him in the air:
Alleluia! Allelluia!
See the day of God appear!

Yea, Amen! let all adore thee,
High on thine eternal throne;
Saviour, take the pow'r and glory,
Claim the kingdom for thine own:
O come quickly; O come quickly;
Alleluia! Come, Lord come!



Happy Birthday, Maud


Today is the birthday of Lucy Maud Montgomery. She was born in 1874 in Clifton, P.E.I. Her first novel, Anne of Green Gables, published in 1908, made her an international figure. Most who are familiar with Montgomery know Anne. However, she published much more than that. Of all of her books, my favourite is Rilla of Ingleside, which is set during World War I, and focuses on Anne's youngest daughter, Rilla.

Anne Shirley comes across as the perfect character; sometimes, a little too perfect. Yes, as a child she is impetuous and talkative, but she does not have a lot of the darker sides that Emily from Emily of New Moon does. And she is not petty or vain like Rilla Blythe can be. I like Rilla because she is so very human.

Rilla of Ingleside is unique among books about World War I because it focuses on how women on the home front coped during that time. Montgomery knew what it was like to be a woman trying to support the war effort. The fighting and tension affected her deeply. In the volume of her journals which recount the years 1910-1921, you can read for yourself how she agonized over what was happening. Rilla of Ingleside reflects that agony as well as showing the things women were able to do at that time; things that outside of war time they were unable to do. 

Montgomery began the novel in 1919 not long after she lost her closest friend and cousin, Frederica. The death of "Frede" was a blow she would never really recover from. Even in the final volume of her journals, at her lowest moments, Montgomery still longs for Frede to provide a source of comfort during difficult days.

Obviously, a book about the war has sad moments, but the thing that always brings tears to my eyes is the story of Dog Monday. When the oldest of Anne's children, Jem, goes to war, Dog Monday, who is Jem's dog, refuses to leave the train station. No amount of coaxing can make him leave. He is there for the entire war, greeting every train, hopeful to see his master again. And one spring day, his waiting is over:

One spring day, when the daffodils were blowing on the Ingleside lawn, and the banks of the brook in Rainbow Valley were sweet with whie and purple violets, the little, lazy afternoon accommodation train pulled into the Glen station. It was very sledom that passengers for the Glen came by that train, so nobody was there to meet it except the new station agent and a small black and yellow dog, who for four and a half long years had met every train that had steamed into Glen St. Mary. Thousands of trains had Dog Monday met and never had the boy he waited and watched for returned. Yet still Dog Monday watched on with eyes that never quite lost hope. Perhaps his dog-heart failed him at times; he was growing old and rheumatic; when he walked back to his kennel after each train had gone his gate was very sober now -- he never trotted but went slowly with a drooping head and a depressed tail that had quite lost its old saucy uplift.

One passenger stepped off the train -- a tall fellow in a faded lieutenant's uniform, who walked with a barely perceptible limp. He had a bronzed face and there were some grey hairs in the ruddy curls that clustered around his forehead. . . . 

A black and yellow streak shot past the station agent. Dog Monday stiff? Dog Monday rheumatic? Dog Monday old? Never believe it. Dog Monday was a young pup, gone clean mad with rejeuvenating joy.

He flung himself against the tall soldier, with a bark that choked in his throat from sheer repature. He flung himself on the ground and writhed in a frezy of welcome. He tried to climb the soldier's khaki legs and slipped down and grovelled in an ecstasy that seemed as if it must tear his little body into pieces. He licked his boots and when the lieutenant had, with laughter on his lips and tears in eye eys, succeeded in gathering the little creature up in arms Dog Monday laid his head on the khaki shoulder and licked the sunburned neck, making queer sounds between barks and sobs . . . Jem Blythe had come home.


Have a little humility, please

There are many things I look back on as a young parent which make me cringe. About 80% of the things I have said on Facebook or on my blog, I cringe at. I want to tell myself to get off my high horse and be quiet. The fact that I am a nobody is helpful:  I don't have a host of people listening to me act like a fool. Sometimes, I think having too public a persona makes us think we are immune to spectacular foul ups, so that we miss out on those moments when we say, "Wow, I was wrong." Such moments are good for us.

When I was parenting my children, all I wanted was to raise them for God's glory to the best of my ability. We go into every parenting situation blind: all kids are different; each child is born in a particular family dynamic; often, what works for one doesn't for the other. I made many mistakes. I know it, and I admit it. And I was a homeschool mom who was drawn into the whole courtship thing. I look back now and wonder what I was thinking. If my leaning toward that movement makes me stupid, well, what can I say? "Stupid is as stupid does." If you are not stupid, give thanks to God.

What bothers me are the voices who say proudly, "Well, I never made that mistake." Well, isn't that nice? I'm happy for you. If that's your experience, then thank God for giving you the discernment. If we say that we owe God everything, but take pride in our own powers of reasoning, I think we may be missing something.

If we believe God is sovereign, we believe he is sovereign in the times when we make mistakes, not just in our victories. And we all make mistakes; as spouses and parents. Some parents who have never had a moment's worry with a child may one day have a 30 or 35 year old child come to them and say: "Hey, mom and dad, I think you really dropped the ball here." How will we react to that? 

If you are able to get from birth to death without ever making a parenting mistake, again, praise God. If you were fortunate enough to be perfect, give him the glory, not yourself. Because if you really believe in God's sovereignty, you will be grateful, not proud.


Hiding in Thee

O safe to the rock that is higher than I,
My soul in its conflicts and sorrows could fly.
So sinful, so weary, thine, thin would I be;
Thou blest rock of ages, I'm hiding in thee.


Hiding in thee, hiding in thee,
Thou blest rock of ages, I'm hiding in thee.

In the calm of the noon tide, in sorrow's lone hour,
In times when temptation cast o'er me in its power,
In the tempest of life, on its wide, heaving sea,
Thou blest rock of ages, I'm hiding in thee.

How oft in the conflict, when pressed by the foe,
I have fled to my refuge and breathed out my woe.
How often when trials like sea billows roll
Have I hidden in thee, O thou rock of my soul.


The things we believe when we're young . . . 

When I was converted at the age of 20, I wanted to know the truth. I wanted to know everything; now! I didn't know much about what to read, and the Bible wasn't always easy to understand. I relied a lot on the people from whom I'd heard the gospel. That makes sense.

The trouble is that in my haste to know, there was also the urgent feeling that I needed to fit in. The background of the people who shared the gospel with me was decidedly fundamentalist and there was little encouragement for intellectual pursuit. Yes, there was the encouragement to read the Bible, but I was to rely on the pastor and the Holy Spirit to instruct me. 

There are some things which I embraced without question:

  • All people who practice infant baptism are wrong, and likely not real Christians
  • All people from an Anglican, Presbyterian, or Lutheran background may be truly saved, but probably most of them aren't.
  • Roman Catholics were people to generally be avoided, because they were heretics and had nothing of value to say.
  • Nothing of value can come from someone in a mainline denomination.
  • Anyone who doesn't believe that there is a rapture denies the Bible (that one is actively promoted in my own church by some).

I am far from those days. It was a huge shock to me when I discovered that some people denied the rapture. It was a pleasant surprise when the woman who taught my children piano lessons was obviously a Christian, despite attending the Lutheran Church. The first year she taught them, she gave them a tract at Christmas with a candy cane.

I started reading a book by Fleming Rutledge, who is not only Episcopalian, but is a woman priest. She's also a brilliant writer. I bought her book on advent, because I was curious about the subject. I've read a few articles by her lately, and a friend of mine is reading her book on the crucifixion.

Rutledge, in the introduction to her advent book does not sound like a heretic. In fact, she sounds quite orthodox. And she sounds more informed than some of my evangelical friends and some evangelical leaders. Her book has also alerted me to the possibility that some evangelicals who are promoting advent don't actually completely understand it.

It's tempting to look back and wish I had not been so quick to believe without question everything people told me. Sometimes, that is just part of the process of learning. When one is saved later in life, she wants to abandon everything about her former life. I wanted to ally myself with a particular group, and sometimes, I simply agreed because I wanted to feel like I belonged. It's not their fault I did it; it's my own.

Some people may think that my attending seminary has brought out much of my re-evaluation of some things. Those who think women should not attend seminary may cluck their tongues and think, "This is what comes from giving women a tool they're not meant to use." In truth, this awakening began when I started homeschooling, and specifically when I began participating on The Well Trained Mind message boards. It was there that I learned that other denominations weren't all wrong. It was there that I realized that my pre-suppositions were not always right.

Our lives of faith progress. We come to understand more. We go through struggles where we see God's faithfulness and our hearts are more tightly knit to him. We re-evaluate and see things through a changed view. It's a good thing. It doesn't mean we're losing our faith. It may mean, though, that we're losing the tendency to come to poorly informed conclusions. It may mean we are not so quick to believe something; that we recognize the need to work through things. If I believe something and I'm willing to tell others, I want to know why.