Why we Worship

PSALM 47

Clap your hands, all peoples!
  Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared,
  a great king over all the earth.
He subdued peoples under us,
  and nations under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us,
  the pride of Jacob whom he loves.

God has gone up with a shout,
  the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
  Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
  sing praises with a psalm!

Why Sing?

God reigns over the nations;
  God sits on his holy throne.
The princes of the peoples gather
  as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
  he is highly exalted!


Why Scripture?



 
Eternity of
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. (Psalm 90:2)


Recent Posts

God? Who Needs Him?
May 31, 2013
Self-sufficient humanism. Paul saw it coming – “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

Imago Dei
September 12, 2012
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Why Can't I Pray?
August 18, 2012
The bible gives us several reasons, but according to Jeremy Taylor, a deceitful heart is at the root of prayerlessness.

It's Not Rocket Science
July 23, 2012
To keep in step with the Spirit should be our daily quest. And if we are successful at that, all of life falls into place.

Theological Steak
April 10, 2012
These words by P. T. Forsythe on the magnificence of Christ's work are to theology what Ruth's Chris is to a good steak.

Describing the Indescribable
February 11, 2012
What we have in Christ will take all eternity to describe. But for one segment of one sermon, a great preacher made a mighty attempt.

Making Sense Of It All
January 30, 2012
Where are things headed? Is there rhyme and reason to the endless cycle of summer, fall, winter and spring? Is there a plan in place, or is randomness the explanation?

Oh My God, What Have We Done?

May 31, 2009

Poets often see things as they are before the "general public" - you and me. Their insight into faith matters needs to be considered, and perhaps on occasion could even serve as a wakeup call.


This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, 'We will not walk in it.' Jeremiah 6:16

Thomas Hardy, the English poet who is best known for his novels, considered poetry his first love. He had early exposure to the church of England, and then was influenced by the Baptists, choosing ultimately to reject both influences.

But as you will see in his poem GOD'S FUNERAL, he lis unable to shrug off the loss of God without a last and lingering look over his shoulder, leaving an unmistakable mist of regret and fear pervading the work.

God is now for Hardy the....

Mangled.....Monarch of our fashioning,
Who quavered, sank; and now has ceased to be.


So, now that we have "gotten rid" of God, what do we do?

'And who or what shall fill his place?
Whither will wanderers turn distracted eyes
For some fixed star to stimulate their pace
Towards the goal of their enterprise?'...


Hardy get it - there is no longer any fixed center. Everything is up for grabs.

Some in the background then I saw,
Sweet women, youths, men, all incredulous,
Who chimed as one: 'This is figure is of straw,
This requiem mockery! Still he lives to us!'


Is this a reference to believers who hold to a risen Christ, against all odds, in every age?

I could not prop their faith: and yet
Many I had known: with all I sympathized;
And though struck speechless, I did not forget
That what was mourned for, I, too, once had prized.

Still, how to bear such loss I deemed
The insistent question for each animate mind.....


Hardy refuses to gloss over the influence of a culture that chooses to live as though there were no God.

And gazing, to my growing sight there seemed
A pale yet positive gleam low down behind.....

Hope springs eternal. "It's not so bad," says the crowd. "We'll be allright. You'll see."

Whereof, to lift the general night,
A certain few who stood aloof had said,
'See you upon the horizon that small light --
Swelling somewhat?' Each mourner shook his head.


This world needs light. And so alternative sources are sought after. The search is ongoing to find an appropriate substitute for the unsubstitutable.

And they composed a crowd of whom
Some were right good, and many nigh the best....
Thus dazed and puzzled 'twixt the gleam and gloom
Mechanically I followed with the rest.


Hardy is unable to fight the gravitational pull of the spirit of the age. He gives up without putting up much of a fight.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) in his poem DOVER BEACH, addresses the disappearance of faith, using the metaphor of ocean waves that crash on the sand, as they wet the sand, and then receed back to where they came from.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.


Yet my people have forgotten me; they burn incense to worthless idols, which made them stumble in their ways and in the ancient paths. They made them walk in bypaths and on roads not built up. Jeremiah 18:15




 





Strange Bedfellows: Longing and Joy

December 26, 2008

God has placed eternity in the hearts of his creatures. (Ecc.3:11) Earth is merely a prelude for what is to follow. But earth gives us glimpses, scents, hints that heighten our longing for the eternal, and awaken joy, however fleeting.


O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. Psalm 63:1-3

C. S. Lewis in "Surprised By Joy" wrote about his theory of joy, which he also called longing, desire or nostalgia. His theory holds that "human beings are conscious of a desire or longing that no natural happiness will satisfy."

Joy, then, is the fleeting, sweetly painful experience of longing for divine or numinous beauty - an elusive experience which often departs as quickly as it arrives. These longings are often evoked by nostalgic memories, encounters with nature, or certain books or music.

Kenneth MaCrae was a Scottish Presbyterian (is that redundant?) in the first half of the 20th Century, and in his journal describes a sunset he witnessed one particular day...

Monday, 3 November: Kilmuir

"In afternoon walked across to Staffin through the hill. The day was perfect and the scene, looking back from near the top of the Bealach in the light of the dying day, was perhaps the most exquisite ever I have looked upon. The sky was bright, almost flashing, with cloudlets of brilliant hues, the mountains black, sharply outlined against the sky, and the moor before me shadowy with the gloom of coming night."

"As I stood there, not a soul broke the stillness, not a bird cried, not a breath of wind ruffled through the silence. Nature herself seemed to be holding her breath at the beauty of the sight. I wished that by some means I might have been able to take away a reproduction of the picture to show the world, but I had to leave it behind me in the loneliness of the wilderness until night came and blotted it out." DIARY OF KENNETH MACRAE, page 157-8

MaCrae witnessed for a moment something transcendent, which he longed to capture, to put in a bottle a fleeting glory. But it came and went, heightening his longing for a time when there is no more night, as he got a whiff of an endless day. And in that moment, joy and longing held hands.

C.S. Lewis says that moments like what is described above are "not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited." Hopefully, these experiences will keep us seeking something more, like "some vague picnicker's hankering for a "better place."

Earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:25-26





O Christmas Tree
December 8, 2008
They're beautiful, they bring back lots of memories, and gifts look wonderful at the base of their branches, but in a Christian context, do Christmas trees "belong?" Do they have any theological significance? Perhaps.....





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