Showing posts from February, 2016

Prayers for Comfort in Affliction

Psalm 34:18 - Yahweh is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves those who have crushed spirit.  (WEB). David's words are still true today. And they are so needed today in light of the many who are afflicted, suffering from storm and from violence. Dear Father, You taught us in Your Word that You do not willingly afflict or grieve us. Look with pity on the sorrow of these who are suffering. Remember them in mercy, nourish their souls with patience, comfort them with Your goodness, lift Your face upon them, and give them peace. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. -

Remembering Those Who Have Gone Before

Cloud Shielding the Sun, by Lynn Greyling 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 - But we don’t want you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning those who have fallen asleep, so that you don’t grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we tell you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left to the coming of the Lord, will in no way precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with God’s trumpet. The dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. So we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (WEB). Dear Father, we remember our bothers and sisters who have gone on before us. We thank you for giving them to us, to know and to lov

Morning Has Broken

Genesis 1:1 - In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. John 1:1 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (WEB). Eleanor Farjeon (1881 - 1965) grew up in the literary and dramatic circles of London, the daughter of novelist Benjamin Farjeon. Eleanor began her professional carrier in her teens on the operatic stage. Later, she had great success in writing and eventually published about 80 works in all. She wrote books for children and books adults, but she especially loved writing for children. Around 1930, editor Percy Dearmer was preparing a hymn collection and asked Eleanor to contribute a hymn for children. In his request, Dearmer had two specific requirements. First, the song had to give thanks for each new day. Second, the text had to be set to a Scottish tune known as "Bunessan", which had first appeared in print in 1900 and had already been paired with Mary MacDonald's Christmas carol, "Child in

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

Psalm 46:1-3 - God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we won’t be afraid, though the earth changes, though the mountains are shaken into the heart of the seas; though its waters roar and are troubled, though the mountains tremble with their swelling . (WEB) Martin Luther (1483 - 1546), a German professor of theology, composer, priest, and former monk, came to reject several teachings and practices of the Late Medieval Catholic Church. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. Luther proposed an academic discussion of the power and usefulness of indulgences in his Ninety-Five Theses  of 1517, which he posted on the door of Wittenberg's Castle. This act began years of trial and persecution for Luther. His refusal to retract all of his writings, at the demand of Pope Leo X in 1520 and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms in 1521, resulted in Luther's excommu

I Sing the Mighty Power of God

Jeremiah 10:12-13 - He has made the earth by his power, he has established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding has he stretched out the heavens: when he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; he makes lightnings for the rain, and brings the wind out of his treasuries. (WEB). "I Sing the Mighty Power of God" was written by Isaac Watts (1674 - 1748). Since the early twentieth century, the text has normally been paired a tune sometimes called Forest Green , a traditional English melody arranged in 1906 by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 - 1958). The hymn was originally included in a hymnal written for children, where it was entitled "Praise for Creation and Providence". Isaac Watts loved children. In 1715 he published the collection entitled  Divine and Moral Songs for Children. In the preface, Watts wrote, "Children of high and low degree, of the Church of E

Martin Luther and the Healing Power of Music

Religious reformer Martin Luther (November 10, 1483 – February 18, 1546) was the author of many hymns and chorales that remain the foundation of Protestant church music. It is said that without Luther, there could have been no Bach. Martin Luther in 1533, painted by Lucas Cranach the Elder. In his later years, Luther suffered many ailments, including Ménière's disease, vertigo, fainting, tinnitus, and a cataract in one eye. Luther saw these as the efforts of Satan to prevent Luther from doing his important work. Often when Luther was at work in his study, he felt that Satan was perturbing him. Once he had been locked inside for some time, not even demanding food, when Lucas Edenberger, preceptor of Duke Ernst of Saxony, arrived with some musicians to visit Luther. When he did not answer their knocking on the door, Edenberger looked through the keyhole and saw Luther lying on the floor unconscious, his arms outstretched. Edenberger broke open the door, lifted Luther up in

Eternal Father, Strong to Save

In 1860, a teacher wrote a poem for a student. The teacher was William Whiting (1825 - 1878), originally from Kensington, England. Whiting was then the master of Winchester College Choristers' School in Hampshire. One of his students was about to sail to the United States and Whiting gave him a prayer, in written form, asking the Eternal Father to protect him, as well as all others who were in peril on the see. The text soon became more widely known and the following year, 1861, Anglican clergyman John B. Dykes (1823 - 1876) composed a tune to accompany the words. Dykes called his tune "Melita," an archaic term for Malta, an ancient island seafaring nation which was a colony of the British Empire and the site of a shipwreck which included among the passengers the Apostle Paul (Acts 27-28). This beautiful hymn is traditionally associated with the Royal Navy, the Corps of the Royal Marines, the Royal Air Force, and the British Army, as well as the navies of the Britis

This Is My Father's World

A 1919 publication of "This is My Father's World." The arrangement is in the public domain. When Syracuse, New York minister Maltbie Davenport Babcock (1858 - 1901) lived in the city of Lockport, he took frequent walks along the Niagara Escarpment to enjoy the overlook's panoramic vista of upstate New York scenery and Lake Ontario. Before leaving for his walks, Babcock would tell his wife he was "going out to see the Father's world". Shortly after his death in 1901, Mrs. Babcock published a compilation of her husband's writings, entitled  Thoughts for Every-Day Living , that contained the poem "My Father's World." The original poem contained sixteen stanzas of four lines each. In 1915, Franklin L. Sheppard chose only three verses of the sixteen when he set Babcock's poem to music to a tune entitled "Terra Beata" (Latin for "Blessed Earth"). Scripture references in the original poem include Psalm 33:5 "

How Can I Keep from Singing

On August 7, 1868,  The New York Observer  published a poem attributed to 'Pauline T." and entitled "Always Rejoicing." The poem beautifully recounted the authors reasoning that, since Jesus Christ was Lord of all, even in the brightest and darkest moments of her life, how could she keep from singing. The next year, 1869, the words were published in the song book,  Bright Jewels for the Sunday School . The accompanying music was composed by American Baptist minister and professor of literature, Robert Wadsworth Lowry (1826 -1899). Since that time, this haunting combination of words and music have frequently, and erroneously, been cited as a traditional Quaker hymn. This song has resonated with many and become quite popular, though it is not widely sung in congregational worship. Popular music performers have even recorded the song with some lyric variations.     My life flows on in endless song; Above earth’s lamentation I hear the sweet though far off

Ephesians 1:1 - Saints and Faithful

Ephesians 1:1 - Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and the faithful in Christ Jesus.  (WEB) The "saints" and the "faithful" were the Apostle Paul's way of describing a church. But what does it mean to be a saint? And what does Paul mean by "the faithful?" Paul uses the Greek word hagios  (pronounced "HAG-ee-os"), meaning set apart, holy, or sacred. At it's core, the word signifies separation. There is one special kind of separation which makes a person a saint, and that is separation to God, for His uses, in obedience to His commandment, that He may employ the believer as He wills. In God's church there is no aristocracy of sanctity. Nor is a saint a designation of rank. All of God's children are His saints. And down among all the troubles and difficulties and busyness of our daily work, we may live saintly lives. For the one condition of being holy is that we should

Deuteronomy 31:6 - Be Courageous. God is With You!

Deuteronomy 31:6 - "Be strong and courageous, don't be afraid, nor be scared of them: for Yahweh your God, he it is who does go with you; he will not fail you, nor forsake you." (WEB). Shortly before his death, Moses gathered the Israelites in the land of Moab and prepared them for the next steps in their journey. Led by Joshua, the son of Nun, the people would enter the land promised by God and conquer the Canaanites. Moses reminded the people of the victories that God had already given them and assured the people that God would continue to be with them and make them victorious. But Moses charged the people that they should stay mindful of God's assurance. They should therefore be strong and courageous. In the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, The phrase "be courageous" is the Greek verb transliterated as andrizó , and meaning "act like a man" or "play the man." It's not certain the origin of this usage. P

Psalm 118:24 - This is the Day. Rejoice!

This is the day that Yahweh has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it!  -- Psalm 118:24 WEB A few meanings are given to this verse. The most well known is the simple truth that each day is a gift from God and we should rejoice and be glad in that gift. The other meanings go deeper. Psalm 118 is one the six psalms (113-118) which compose the Jewish prayer of praise and thanksgiving known as the Hallel. The Hallel is recited during many Jewish festivals, including Pesach (Passover), Sukkot (Feast of Booths), Shavuot (Festival of Weeks), and Hanukkah (Festival of Lights). Psalm 118 is considered one of the messianic psalms, or one of the psalms that look to the coming of the Messiah, who will deliver God's people. In this light, verse 24 alludes to the earlier portion of the psalm in which the triumph of the Messiah is described. This triumph is a day for which the Lord God has long prepared and a day in which the delivered should rejoice and be glad. For the followers of Jesus