Sunday, March 31, 2024

We bear the strain of earthly care

471 Azmon. C. M.

1 We bear the strain of earthly care,
   But bear it not alone;
   Beside us walks our Brother Christ
   And makes our task His own.

2 Through din of market, whirl of wheels,
   And thrust of driving trade,
   We follow where the Master leads,
   Serene and unafraid.

3 The common hopes that make us men
   Were His in Galilee;
   The tasks He gives are those He gave
   Beside the restless sea.

4 Our brotherhood still rests in Him,
   The Brother of us all,
   And o'er the centuries still we hear
   The Master's winsome call.
                         Ozora S. Davis
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Χριστὸς ἀνέστη!

That's all. But that's more than enough, isn't it?

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Where cross the crowded ways of life

465 Germany. L. M.

1 Where cross the crowded ways of life,
   where sound the cries of clan and race,
   above the noise of selfish strife,
   O Christ, we hear your voice of grace.

2 In haunts of wretchedness and need,
   on shadowed thresholds fraught with fears,
   from paths where hide the lures of greed,
   we catch the vision of your tears.

3 From tender childhood's helplessness,
   from human grief and burdened toil,
   from famished souls, from sorrow's stress,
   your heart has never known recoil.

4 The cup of water given for you
   still holds the freshness of your grace;
   yet long these multitudes to view
   the strong compassion of your face.

5 O Master, from the mountainside
   make haste to heal these hearts of pain;
   among these restless throngs abide;
   O tread the city's streets again.

6 Till all shall learn compassion's might,
   following where your feet have trod,
   till glorious from your realm of light
   shall come the city of our God.
                         Frank Mason North
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Friday, March 29, 2024

the way of the cross

The Way of the Cross is not the Way of the Sword.—Scot McKnight, The Audacity of Peace, 97

<idle musing>
An appropriate ending to this little book. Monday we start another book from way back in 2016 that I'm finally getting around to reading: Margaret Sim, A Relevant Way to Read. I hope you enjoy it. Here's the publisher blurb:

In A Relevant Way to Read, Margaret G. Sim draws on her in-depth knowledge of New Testament Greek to forge a new exegesis of the Gospels and Paul's letters. Locating her studies in the linguistic concept of relevance theory, which contends that all our utterances are laden with crucial yet invisible context, Sim embarks on a journey through some of the New Testament's most troubling verses. Here she recovers lost information with a meticulous analysis that should enlighten both the experienced scholar and the novice. Whether discussing Paul's masterful use of irony to shame the Corinthians, or introducing the ground-breaking ideas behind relevance theory into a whole new field of study, the author demonstrates her vast learning and experience while putting her complex subject into plain words for the developing student.
</idle musing>

Thy kingdom come! On bended knee…

463 Irish. C. M.

1 Thy kingdom come! On bended knee
   the passing ages pray;
   and faithful souls have yearned to see
   on earth that kingdom's day.

2 But the slow watches of the night
   not less to God belong;
   and for the everlasting right
   the silent stars are strong.

3 And lo, already on the hills
   the flags of dawn appear;
   gird up your loins, ye prophet souls,
   proclaim the day is near:

4 The day in whose clear-shining light
   all wrong shall stand revealed,
   when justice shall be throned in might,
   and every hurt be healed;

5 When knowledge, hand in hand with peace,
   shall walk the earth abroad:
   the day of perfect righteousness,
   the promised day of God.
                         Frederick L. Hosmer
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Thursday, March 28, 2024

The way of the lamb

They [the early Christians] do this first in their small house church gatherings: they embody the Way of the Lamb and they resist as dissident disciples the way of the Dragon. Their habits emerge over time into a living reality, the agency of goodness in the Way of the Lamb. So emergent is this living reality of goodness that goodness itself becomes an agent constraining the believers to act in all spheres of life as those who have learned an alternative reality. That is, when they enter the agora they behave not as Romans but as Christotorm humans. They worship God, they are not driven by power and opulence and status and arrogance, they resist military victories, and they choose the ways of economic generosity and equity.

That is the peace ethic of Revelation. It is the Way of the Lamb and the challenge is to follow the Lamb while living in Babylon.—Scot McKnight, The Audacity of Peace,—Scot McKnight, The Audacity of Peace, 96–97

<idle musing>
And that's still the challenge today, isn't it? But when was the last time you heard a sermon or read a book or sang a song that pointed that out?

Just an
</idle musing>

From thee all skill and science flow

462 Gräfenburg. C. M.

1. From Thee all skill and science flow,
   All pity, care and love,
   All calm and courage, faith and hope;
   O pour them from above.

2. And part them, Lord, to each and all,
   As each and all shall need,
   To rise, like incense, each to Thee,
   In noble thought and deed.

3. And hasten, Lord, that perfect day
   When pain and death shall cease;
   And Thy just rule shall fill the earth
   With health, and light, and peace.

4. When ever blue the sky shall gleam,
   And ever green the sod;
   And man’s rude work deface no more
   The paradise of God.
                         Charles Kingsley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
According to cyberhymnal, the original version of this hymn started with these verses:

Accept this building, gracious Lord,
No temple though it be;
We raised it for our suffering kin,
And so, good Lord, for Thee.

Accept our little gift, and give,
To all who may here dwell,
The will and power to do their work,
Or bear their sorrows well.

According to the bio at (see link above), the hymn was six stanzas and composed for the celebration of building a hospital.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

A new understanding of violence

But the establishment of the Kingdom of God in the person of Jesus reveals to us a new understanding of violence; the tables are turned. Whereas the old kingdom was established by the use of violence, the new Kingdom was established in the receipt of violence. God the Warrior becomes the Crucified God, the one who receives in himself the full force of human violence.—Peter Craigie, The Problem of War in the Old Testament, 99 (emphasis original), cited in Scot McKnight, The Audacity of Peace, 83

The voice of God is calling

454 Meirionydd. 7. .6 7. 6. D.

1 The voice of God is calling
   It summons unto men;
   as once he spake in Zion,
   so now he speaks again:
   whom shall I send to succor
   my people in their need?
   Whom shall I send to loosen
   the bonds of shame and greed?

2 I hear my people crying
   in cot and mine and slum;
   no field or mart is silent,
   no city street is dumb.
   I see my people falling
   in darkness and despair.
   Whom shall I send to shatter
   the fetters which they bear?

3 We heed, O Lord, thy summons,
   and answer: Here are we!
   Send us upon thine errand,
   let us thy servants be.
   Our strength is dust and ashes,
   our years a passing hour,
   But thou canst use our weakness
   to magnify thy power.

4 From ease and plenty save us;
   from pride of place absolve;
   purge us of low desire;
   lift us to high resolve;
   take us, and make us holy;
   teach us thy will and way.
   Speak, and behold! we answer;
   command, and we obey!
                         John Haynes Holmes
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Not a terribly popular hymn, only occurring in 65 hymnals! But it is a good hymn in the finest social gospel way. Indeed, its author was a Unitarian, which is reflected in its general call as opposed to a specifically Jesus-centered call. Nonetheless, a solid hymn.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Absorbing the violence

I have come to the conclusion that the war texts express human evil at times. My conclusion comes from the Bible’s witness to the Way of the Cross. in Christ God has come to humans in all their evil, has entered into that history and reality, has gone all the way to the bottom of that reality in the brutality and hideousness and injustice of Jesus’ crucifixion, has unmasked the evil at work in such systems of injustice, has absorbed the injustice in order to redeem its agents (all humans), has redemptively liberated humans from such injustice and evils, has been raised to the world's true Lord, and has sent the Spirit to transform humans into the Way of the Cross, or Christoformity. In Christ God ends the violence of humans by absorbing the violence in his Son for all of us.—Scot McKnight, The Audacity of Peace, 82–83

Tozer for Tuesday

If it is true that that is what happens when the Word comes in power—and the text opens the doors to the belief that the Word can come nominally and without power—then exactly the opposite would be true. Without Holy Spirit power, they would become Christians by some decision, but without much assurance, and would not be followers of the Lord, except in name. When affliction came, they would not take it very well, and they would not have very much joy; they would have to work it up—it would not stay long. And they would not be very good examples; they would be lukewarm when it came to the missionary zeal.—A.W. Tozer, Reclaiming Christianity, 92

<idle musing>
Boy, does he ever describe the state of the US church! The word came without power and the "converts" are without power...
</idle musing>

Hushed was the evening hymn (Samuel)

451 Samuel. 6. 6. 6. 6. 8. 8.

1. Hushed was the evening hymn,
   The temple courts were dark;
   The lamp was burning dim
   Before the sacred ark;
   When suddenly a voice divine
   Rang thro' the silence of the shrine.

2. The old man, meek and mild,
   The priest of Israel, slept;
   His watch the temple-child,
   The little Levite, kept;
   And what from Eli's sense was sealed
   The Lord to Hannah's son revealed.

3. O give me Samuel's ear,
   The open ear, O Lord,
   Alive and quick to hear
   Each whisper of Thy word,
   Like him to answer at Thy call,
   And to obey Thee first of all.

4. O give me Samuel's heart,
   A lowly heart, that waits
   Where in Thy house Thou art,
   Or watches at Thy gates;
   By day and night, a heart that still
   Moves at the breathing of Thy will.

5. O give me Samuel's mind,
   A sweet unmurm'ring faith,
   Obedient and resigned
   To Thee in life and death;
   That I may read with child-like eyes
   Truths that are hidden from the wise.
                         James D. Burns
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Monday, March 25, 2024


Christoformity is a hermeneutic for real life decisions by real followers in real situations. Nor is it as simple as ‘What would Jesus do.’ Rather we ask, how do I embody the incarnation of God's redemptive love in this moment for this person or persons or situation as one who is in communion with Christ through the Spirit?—Scot McKnight, The Audacity of Peace, 69–70

Savior, teach me day by day

449 Innocents 7. 7. 7. 7.

1 Savior, teach me day by day
   Love's sweet lesson to obey;
   Sweeter lessons cannot be,
   Loving Him who first loved me.

2 With a childlike heart of love,
   At Thy bidding may I move:
   Prompt to serve and follow Thee,
   Loving Him who first loved me.

3 Teach me all Thy steps to trace,
   Strong to follow in Thy grace;
   Learning how to love from Thee;
   Loving Him who first loved me.

4 Thus may I rejoice to show
   That I feel the love I owe;
   Singing, till Thy face I see,
   Of His love who first loved me.
                         Lane E. Leeson
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I don't recall ever singing this hymn, but that could be said for almost all the children's hymns in this hymnal. At least it isn't moralistic, instead encouranging a following of Jesus versus obey the authorities because God said so. It is fairly popular, occurring in a little over 450 hymnals. inserts a verse after verse 3:

4 Love in loving finds employ,
   In obedience all her joy;
   Ever new that joy will be,
   Loving Him who first loved me.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

All things bright and beautiful

447 Royal Oak. 7. 6. 7. 6. with Refrain.

Refrain (also sung as verse 1)
   All things bright and beautiful,
   All creatures great and small,
   All things wise and wonderful:
   The Lord God made them all.

2. Each little flower that opens,
   Each little bird that sings,
   He made their glowing colors,
   He made their tiny wings. [Refrain]

3. The purple headed mountains,
   The river running by,
   The sunset and the morning
   That brightens up the sky. [Refrain]

4. The cold wind in the winter,
   The pleasant summer sun,
   The ripe fruits in the garden,
   He made them every one. [Refrain]

5. He gave us eyes to see them,
   And lips that we might tell
   How great is God Almighty,
   Who has made all things well. [Refrain]
                         Cecil F. Alexander
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I was very surprised to see that this hymn, made famous by the James Herriot books, is only in 330 or so hymnals. I knew it long before the books came out, so I assumed that it was far more popular. I guess not! adds another verse:

The tall trees in the greenwood, The meadows where we play, The rushes by the water, To gather every day. [Refrain]
</idle musing>

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Tell me the stories of Jesus

441 Stories of Jesus. 8. 4. 8. 4. 5. 4. 5. 4.

1 Tell me the stories of Jesus
   I love to hear;
   Things I would ask Him to tell me
   If He were here:
   Scenes by the wayside,
   Tales of the sea,
   Stories of Jesus,
   Tell them to me.

2 First let me hear how the children
   Stood 'round His knee,
   And I shall fancy His blessing
   Resting on me;
   Words full of kindness,
   Deeds full of grace,
   All in the love-light
   Of Jesus' face.

3 Into the city I'd follow
   The children's band,
   Waving a branch of the palm tree
   High in my hand;
   One of His heralds,
   Yes, I would sing
   Loudest hosannas,
   "Jesus is King!"
                         William H. Parker
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
We're still working through the children's hymn section. Most of them are pretty moralistic and, frankly, boring. No wonder they didn't stick in my mind. This one, however, was always a favorite of mine. I loved to hear the gospel stories read, and I loved to read them. I'd like to think that some of them stuck...

I was surprised to see that this hymn only occurs in about 150 hymnals. I had assumed it was far more popular!

According to cyberhymnal, there are two more verses (and note that they break up the lines a bit differently):

3. Tell me, in accents of wonder, how rolled the sea,
   Tossing the boat in a tempest on Galilee;
   And how the Maker, ready and kind,
   Chided the billows, and hushed the wind.

5. Show me that scene in the garden, of bitter pain.
   Show me the cross where my Savior for me was slain.
   Sad ones or bright ones, so that they be
   Stories of Jesus, tell them to me.

</idle musing>

Friday, March 22, 2024

A consistent pacifistic christoform hermeneutic

Bonhoeffer operated with one of the most consistently pacifistic christoform hermeneutics in the history of the church. But it was a hermeneutic, not a rule. As a hermeneutic it had to be worked out in specific contexts and I turn now to explore a christoform hermeneutic in the face of dying for others, perhaps the most exacting explication in the history of the church on what elf-denial as participation in Christ means. Here we find utter Christoformity.

Bonhoeffer was against rule-making. Discernment — rather than law-making or undeviating principle-formation — was his method of knowing what to do in a concrete situation.—Scot McKnight, The Audacity of Peace, 66–67

I am so glad that our Father in Heaven

435 Gladness (Bliss). 10. 10. 10. 10. with Refrain

1. I am so glad that our Father in Heaven
   Tells of His love in the Book He has given;
   Wonderful things in the Bible I see,
   This is the dearest, that Jesus loves me.

   I am so glad that Jesus loves me,
   Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me.
   I am so glad that Jesus loves me,
   Jesus loves even me.

2. Though I forget Him, and wander away,
   Still He doth love me wherever I stray;
   Back to His dear loving arms I do flee,
   When I remember that Jesus loves me. [Refrain]

3. Oh, if there’s only one song I can sing,
   When in His beauty I see the great King,
   This shall my song through eternity be,
   Oh, what a wonder that Jesus loves me! [Refrain]
                         Emily S. Oakey
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I didn't realize it until yesterday, but this hymnal has a section entitled "Hymns for Children." When I was growing up, I don't recall singing hardly any of them. Of course, we had a separate songbook for Sunday School, but I don't recall ever being terribly fond of any of those either. I preferred the "big people" hymnal and the hymns in it, but of the hymns in this section, I recall precious few. This one is an exception, and not because it's terribly impressive theology wise, but because the Philip P. Bliss tune is catchy.

Cyberhymnal has a few more verse, none of which I had ever seen before:

4. Jesus loves me, and I know I love Him;
   Love brought Him down my poor soul to redeem;
   Yes, it was love made Him die on the tree;
   Oh, I am certain that Jesus loves me! [Refrain]

5. If one should ask of me, how can I tell?
   Glory to Jesus, I know very well!
   God’s Holy Spirit with mine doth agree,
   Constantly witnessing Jesus loves me. [Refrain]

6. In this assurance I find sweetest rest,
   Trusting in Jesus, I know I am blessed;
   Satan, dismayed, from my soul now doth flee,
   When I just tell him that Jesus loves me. [Refrain]

</idle musing>

Thursday, March 21, 2024

But how?

Christoformity, however, occurs not through valiant efforts or white-knuckling discipline but through the quiet surrender of participation in Christ.—Scot McKnight, The Audacity of Peace, 62

Shepherd of tender youth (Clement of Alexandria)

429 Kirby Bedon. 6 .6 .4. 6. 6. 6. 4.

1 Shepherd of tender youth,
   guiding in love and truth
   through devious ways,
   Christ, our triumphant King,
   we come your name to sing
   and here our children bring
   to join your praise.

2 You are our holy Lord,
   Christ, the incarnate Word,
   healer of strife.
   You did yourself abase
   that from sin's deep disgrace
   you might now save our race,
   and give us life.

3 You are the great High Priest,
   you have prepared the feast
   of holy love;
   and in our mortal pain
   none calls on you in vain;
   our plea do not disdain;
   help from above.

4 O ever be our guide,
   our shepherd and our pride,
   our staff and song.
   Jesus, O Christ of God,
   by your enduring Word
   lead us where you have trod;
   make our faith strong.

5 So now and till we die
   sound we your praises high
   and joyful sing:
   infants and all the throng
   who to your Church belong,
   unite to swell the song
   to Christ, our King!
                         Clement of Alexandria
                         Tr. by Henry M. Dexter
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
According to the note below the hymn, this is the oldest extant Christian hymn!
</idle musing>

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Love your enemies? You gotta be kidding! Nope, he wasn't…

Sixth, a peace ethic converts enemies into neighbors. For some Israel’s scriptures led to a social love for one’s own and a social hatred for one’s enemies. To put it simpler, to love one’s own nation and to despise the nations of others as deplorables and shit-hole countries. Some in the Qumran community saw Rome as the enemy (1QM 1:9—11). The apostle Paul discovered a social hierarchy among Christians (Galatians; Romans 14:1-15:13). Jesus’ peace ethic subverts othering gentiles and women and the marginalized and Romans especially and in its place he calls kingdom people to love one’s enemies and to pray for one’s persecutors. His radical teaching from beyond our time zone does not derive from pragmatics, as if he's saying, ‘Hey guys, if we act this way things will go easier for us.’ No, he grounds it in the love of God for all humans, and God's love is as wide as the sunshine and as democratic as rain. Which is what he means by ‘perfect.’—Scot McKnight, The Audacity of Peace, 53–54

Give me the wings of faith to rise

424 St. Peter. C. M.

1 Give me the wings of faith to rise
   Within the veil and see
   The saints above, how great their joys,
   How bright their glories be.

2 I ask them whence their victory came,
   They with united breath,
   Ascribe their conquest to the Lamb,
   Their triumph to his death.

3 They marked the footsteps that he trod,
   (His zeal inspired their breast);
   And following their incarnate God,
   Possess the promised rest.

4 Our glorious Leader claims our praise
   For his own pattern given;
   While the long cloud of witnesses
   Shows the same path to heaven.
                         Isaac Watts
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
This Watts hymn only occurs in a few more than 500 hymnals. inserts a verse after verse 1:

2 Once they were mourning here below,
   And wet their couch with tears;
   They wrestled hard, as we do now,
   With sins, and doubts, and fears.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

True overcoming

A peace ethic committed to loving all, including one’s enemies, does not respond to militaristic demands as others do. Instead of appealing to rights or demanding justice, Jesus calls kingdom people to decode the system and deconstruct its ways of power by surrendering to the power in a way that removes their teeth and grinding. It is the way of Jesus, after all: he surrendered over and over to the powers, exposed and absorbed their vicious ways on the cross, overcame them into a new life for his followers on Easter Sunday, and empowered them for kingdom living on Pentecost.—Scot McKnight, The Audacity of Peace, 53

Tozer for Tuesday

Do not ask me to give you the trick; there is no trick in it. You go to Jesus Christ as you are—weary, worn and sad. You will find in Him a resting place and He will make you glad. You come to Jesus with blindness and He makes you see. Come with your deafness and He makes you hear. Come in your bondage and He sets you free.—A.W. Tozer, Reclaiming Christianity, 87

We cannot think of them as dead

423 St. Flavian. C. M.

1. We cannot think of them as dead
   Who walk with us no more;
   Along the path of life we tread—
   They have but gone before.

2. The Father’s house is mansioned fair
   Beyond our vision dim;
   All souls are His, and here or there
   Are living unto Him.

3. And still their silent ministries
   Within our hearts have place,
   As when on earth they walked with us
   And met us face to face.

4. Ours are they by an ownership
   Nor time nor death can free;
   For God hath given love to keep
   Its own eternally.
                         Frederick L. Hosmer
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
When I was younger, I didn't pay too much attention to the idea of a communion of the saints who had gone before. But, as I get older and more and more of the people I knew have crossed the river or gone beyond the veil, or however you want to say that they aren't in this body anymore, having died, the more I am intrigued by it.

I don't recall ever having sung this hymn, but then, as I said, I didn't pay much attention to the idea of the communion of the saints who had gone before.
</idle musing>

Monday, March 18, 2024

But is it Ṭov?

A peace ethic asks what is tov in this situation, which at times transcends what many would perceive to be ‘just’ or ‘right’ or even (dare I say it) ‘biblical.’ It does not ask about status or about who will win, but about what is tov.—Scot McKnight, The Audacity of Peace, 44

<idle musing>
How many times have you asked yourself that? I'll be honest, it was a new idea to me—but a powerful one!
</idle musing>

Come, let us join our friends above

422 Dundee (French). C. M.

1 Come, let us join our friends above,
   That have obtained the prize,
   And on the eagle wings of love
   To joy celestial rise.

2 Let all the saints terrestrial sing,
   With those to glory gone;
   For all the servants of our King,
   In earth and heaven, are one.

3 One family, we dwell in Him,
   One Church above, beneath;
   Though now divided by the stream,
   The narrow stream of death.

4 One army of the living God,
   To His command we bow;
   Part of His host has crossed the flood,
   And part is crossing now.

5 Even now by faith we join our hands
   With those that went before,
   And greet the blood-besprinkled bands
   On the eternal shore.
                         Charles Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
This hymn by Charles Wesley occurs in a little over 340 hymnals. And again, as usual for a Wesley hymn, there are more verses. lists these:

5 His militant, embodied coast,
   With wishful looks we stand,
   And long to see that happy coast,
   And reach that heavenly land.

7 Lord Jesus, be our constant Guide,
   And when the word is given,
   Bid the cold waves of death divide,
   And land us all in heaven.

</idle musing>

Sunday, March 17, 2024

No form of human framing, no bond of outward might

421 Alford. 7. 6. 8. 6. D.

1. No form of human framing, no bond of outward might,
   Can bind Thy Church together, Lord, and all her flocks unite;
   But, Jesus, Thou hast told us how unity must be:
   Thou art with God the Father one, and we are one in Thee.

2. The mind that is in Jesus will guide us into truth,
   The humble, open, joyful mind of ever-learning youth;
   The heart that is in Jesus will lead us out of strife,
   The giving and forgiving heart that follows love in life.

3. Wherever men adore Thee, our souls with them would kneel;
   Wherever men implore Thy help, their trouble we would feel;
   And where men do Thy service, though knowing not Thy sign,
   Our hand is with them in good work, for they are also Thine.

4. Forgive us, Lord, the folly that quarrels with Thy friends,
   And draw us near to Thy heart, where every discord ends;
   Thou art the crown of manhood, and Thou of God the Son;
   O Master of our many lives, in Thee our life is one.
                         Henry van Dyke
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Well, I'm certainly continuing in my trend of choosing the less popular hymns. This one occurs in a paltry eight hymnals! Henry van Dyke is better known as the author of Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee. He is also the author of The Other Wise Man, which you may be familiar with. If not, take a look! It's out of copyright, so freely available to read.
</idle musing>

Saturday, March 16, 2024

City of God, how broad and far

420 Gräfenberg. C. M.

1 City of God, how broad and far
   outspread thy walls sublime!
   The true thy chartered freemen are
   of every age and clime:

2 How gleam thy watch-fires through the night
   with never-fainting ray!
   How rise thy towers, serene and bright,
   to meet the dawning day!

3 How purely hath thy speech come down
   from man's primaeval youth!
   How grandly hath thine empire grown
   of freedom, love, and truth!

4 In vain the surge's angry shock,
   in vain the drifting sands:
   unharmed upon the eternal Rock
   the eternal city stands.
                         Samuel Johnson
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I don't recall ever singing this one, and it only occurs in 166 hymnals. For being a relatively unpopular hymn, the verses seem to have been scrambled a good bit and many versions include a fifth verse, variously placed:

2 One holy church, one army strong,
   one steadfast, high intent;
   one working band, one harvest-song,
   one King omnipotent.
As seems apparent once one knows it, the author of the hymn has strong Unitarian leanings, although never officially a Unitarian.
</idle musing>

Friday, March 15, 2024

On the margins

Those who are ignored, suppressed, silenced, and excluded are not just seen by Jesus: he exalts them to center stage. Those who because of exigencies in life do not have the advantages and privileges of others are seen and given a place at the table. Here we find the beginnings of a peace ethic about imprisonment in our society. Here we find the beginnings of a word of grace and hope that can turn prisons, which are populated by folks from the margins, into centers of transformation, reconciliation, and rehabilitation.—Scot McKnight, The Audacity of Peace, 42–43

Jesus, united by Thy grace

419 Beatitudo. C. M.

1. Jesus, united by Thy grace,
   And each to each endeared,
   With confidence we seek Thy face
   And know our prayer is heard.

2. Help us to help each other, Lord,
   Each other’s cross to bear;
   Let all their friendly aid afford,
   And feel each other’s care.

3. Up onto Thee, our living Head,
   Let us in all things grow;
   Till Thou hast made us free indeed
   And spotless here below.

4. Touched by the lodestone of Thy love,
   Let all our hearts agree,
   And ever toward each other move,
   And ever move toward Thee.
                         Charles Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I seem to have a penchant for choosing relatively unpopular hymns. This one only occurs in 160 or so hymnals. And, again, as is normal for Wesley hymns, there are many more verses, which Cyberhymnal conveniently lists:

2. Still let us own our common Lord,
   And bear Thine easy yoke,
   A band of love, a threefold cord,
   Which never can be broke.

3. Make us into one spirit drink;
   Baptize into Thy name;
   And let us always kindly think,
   And sweetly speak, the same.

7. To Thee, inseparably joined,
   Let all our spirits cleave;
   O may we all the loving mind,
   That was in Thee receive.

8. This is the bond of perfectness,
   Thy spotless charity;
   O let us, still we pray, possess
   The mind that was in Thee.

9. Grant this, and then from all below
   Insensibly remove:
   Our souls their change shall scarcely know,
   Made perfect first in love!

10. With ease our souls through death shall glide
   Into their paradise,
   And thence, on wings of angels, ride
   Triumphant through the skies.

11. Yet, when the fullest joy is given,
   The same delight we prove,
   In earth, in paradise, in Heaven,
   Our all in all is love.

The overarching theme of this hymn is the heartbeat of the Wesleyan revival: a heart made perfect in love—now, not just in the future. That's why one can say that it is a holiness of heart first and foremost. Behavior follows because, as Paul says in Romans, "love worketh no ill to its neighbor" (KJV).
</idle musing>

Thursday, March 14, 2024

The way of suffering? Or the way of violence?

What I learned from Sider is that Jesus here consciously and intentionally rejected the way of violence and power over others and chose the way of suffering and service as the path to ‘victory’, now redefined. One doesn't get to the Easter victory of Jesus apart from the defeat on Friday.— Scot McKnight, The Audacity of Peace, 21–22

All praise to our redeeming Lord

417 Armenia. C. M.

1 All praise to our redeeming Lord,
   who joins us by his grace,
   and bids us, each to each restored,
   together seek his face.

2 He bids us build each other up;
   and, gathered into one,
   to our high calling’s glorious hope
   we hand in hand go on.

3 We all partake the joy of one,
   the common peace we feel,
   a peace to sensual minds unknown,
   a joy unspeakable.

4 And if our fellowship below
   in Jesus be so sweet,
   what heights of rapture shall we know
   when round his throne we meet!
                         Charles Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
This is definitely not one of Wesley's more popular hymns; it only occurs in 142 hymnals. As is usual with a Wesley hymn, there are more verses:

3 The gift which he on one bestows,
   we all delight to prove;
   the grace through every vessel flows,
   in purest streams of love.

4 Ev'n now we think and speak the same,
   and cordially agree;
   concentred all, through Jesus’ name,
   in perfect harmony.

</idle musing>

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

What is a peace ethic?

A peace ethic embodies the self-denial ethic of Jesus. A peace ethic volitionally and communally participates in the cruciform pattern of the life of Jesus.Through the power of God's grace and the indwelling Spirit of God the participant in the way of Jesus is transformed into a Christoform life.— Scot McKnight, The Audacity of Peace, 10

Blest be the tie that binds

416 Dennis. S. M.

1. Blest be the tie that binds
   Our hearts in Christian love;
   The fellowship of kindred minds
   Is like to that above.

2. Before our Father’s throne
   We pour our ardent prayers;
   Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one
   Our comforts and our cares.

3. We share each other’s woes,
   Our mutual burdens bear;
   And often for each other flows
   The sympathizing tear.

4. When we asunder part,
   It gives us inward pain;
   But we shall still be joined in heart,
   And hope to meet again.
                         John Fawcett
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Today's hymn is extremely popular, occurring in over 2500 hymnals. A good number of hymnals add a final two verses, which I don't recall ever seeing before:

5. This glorious hope revives
   Our courage by the way;
   While each in expectation lives,
   And longs to see the day.

6. From sorrow, toil and pain,
   And sin, we shall be free,
   And perfect love and friendship reign
   Through all eternity.

You might want to read the bio linked above. Interesting back story on this hymn. I fear that not too many people today would turn down the lucrative city post to stay in the backwater…
</idle musing>

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

What got healed?

From the perspective of the incarnation the answer is clear: it is the distortion of the fall and of human sin that lies behind this disruption or dichotomy between knowing and being, word and event, theology and history, and it is that very rupture in our human existence that God has come to heal in the incarnation. When the Word was made flesh, the rupture between our true being in communion with God and our physical existence in space and time was healed. It is precisely about this that the sacraments have so much to say in the unity of word and physical elements in the ordinances of baptism and eucharist. The sacraments are designed in the midst of our brokenness and dividedness to hold together in one, spirit and flesh, word and event, spiritual and material, until the new creation. Sacraments are thus the amen to the incarnation, the experienced counterpart to the Word made flesh. Here, then, in the Word made flesh we have truth in the form of personal being, truth in the form of concrete physical existence, truth indissolubly one with space and time, with historical and physical being. To demythologise the truth of its physical and temporal elements is to try to disrupt the incarnation, to attempt to tear apart the Word from the flesh assumed in Jesus Christ. Thus demythologisation belongs to the essential distortion of sin — the sin that brought about the dichotomy in us, that refuses to accept the limitations of our creatureliness in speech and language and in the thought forms of space and time, that wants to conceive the truth in some imaginary form of pure being instead of the form of human flesh which it has assumed once and for all in the incarnation. The relation of the kerygma to history belongs to the very essence of the Christian faith, for it is grounded in the unity of reconciliation and revelation in Iesus Christ, in his unity of word and act, person and work, in the union of true God and true man.—T. F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, 296

<idle musing>
That ends our quick jaunt through Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ. I hope you enjoyed it. Maybe someday I'll tackle the next volume, but first, let's read through Scot McKnight's The Audacity of Peace. I'll start that tomorrow and go back to one post per day for it, since it's a shorter book.
</idle musing>

What's the point?

When Bultmann wishes to reinterpret the objective facts of kerygma, e.g. as given in the Apostles’ Creed, in terms of an existential decision which we have to make in order to understand, not God or Christ or the world, but ourselves, we are converting the gospel of the New Testament into something quite different, converting christology into anthropology. It is shockingly subjective. It is not Christ that really counts, but my decision in which I find myself. At this point one sees Bultmann’s involvement in the theological tradition of Schleiermacher and Ritschl that grew out of German pietism and subjectivism, and also in the tradition of the Marburg school of philosophy which tried in vain to break out of phenomenology by existential decision. Moreover, the existential decision with which Bultmann works is not that of Kierkegaard in which the fact and person of Christ is all determining, but that of the Roman Catholic but atheistic Heidegger, who took Kierkegaard’s idea, and altered it by abstracting it entirely from its objective ground in Christ and attaching it to a secularised notion Of tradition which he retained from his Roman Catholic upbringing.—T. F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, 286–87

Tozer for Tuesday

I fear the respectable, godly, self-contained people who have money, who dress well, have good educations, speak good English and read good books but have no heart for the flow of humanity that flows everywhere. They care not for the poor and the distressed. I am afraid of aloof godliness—you lovely women who pay no attention to the very women that need you. You respectable men with your money, you hold yourself aloof from a man that needs you the worst.—A.W. Tozer, Reclaiming Christianity, 84-85

For the Bread, which Thou hast broken

412 Agapé. 8. 7. 8. 7.

1 For the bread, which Thou hast broken;
   For the wine, which Thou hast poured;
   For the words, which Thou hast spoken;
   Now we give Thee thanks, O Lord.

2 By this pledge that Thou dost love us,
   By Thy gift of peace restored,
   By Thy call to heaven above us,
   Hallow all our lives, O Lord.

3 With our sainted ones in glory
   Seated at our Father’s board,
   May the Church that waiteth for Thee
   Keep love’s tie unbroken, Lord.

4 In Thy service, Lord, defend us;
   In our hearts keep watch and ward;
   In the world where Thou dost send us
   Let Thy kingdom come, O Lord.
                         Louis F. Benson
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Well, I'm continuing in my tradition of posting hymns that aren't in the top 1000, let alone the top 10! This one only occurs in forty-six hymnals.

I admit, the theology is pretty thin and the hymn seems trite, but I kinda like it. YMMV, of course.
</idle musing>

Monday, March 11, 2024

Who's the center here, anyway?

Or to put it in other words, according to Bultmann and Gogarten, modern men and women cannot understand history apart from our own responsibility for it; and apart from our responsible handling of it, there is in point of fact no history, for there is no history apart from the changes human beings have introduced into it. By our decisions we give the world its particular form, so that reality is now this changing history which we create, and beyond and apart from that there is nothing real for us.

Now quite frankly this is the biggest myth yet created by man — that we ourselves are the creators of all history, and that apart from the history created by human beings, nothing else is real! Man is the God of history! In view of this, it is clear that it is not the New Testament but Bultmann and Gogarten themselves that need to be radically demythologised! So long as they work with such inverted conceptions of history, scientific interpretation of the New Testament is quite impossible.—T. F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, 285

An eschatology of Good News!

There can be no doubt, however, that the New Testament is pervaded with the joyful sense of God's actual presence in Jesus Christ, and with the realisation that the coming age has already broken into the present and overlaps it. That is precisely the good news of the gospel, that here and now in Christ Jesus God is present in all his royal power, not only to speak a word of pardon but actually to enact it and fulfil it in the liberation of the children of God. The account of the eschatology of Jesus as an apocalyptic eschatology of despair is simply not true—it was above all an eschatology of good news .—T. F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, 271

According to Thy gracious word

410 St. John's, Westminster. C. M.

1 According to Thy gracious word,
   In meek humility,
   This will I do, my dying Lord,
   I will remember Thee.

2 Thy body, broken for my sake,
   My bread from heaven shall be;
   Thy testamental cup I take,
   And thus remember Thee.

3 Remember Thee, and all Thy pains,
   And all Thy love to me;
   Yea, while a breath, a pulse remains,
   Will I remember Thee!

4 And when these falling lips grow dumb,
   And mind and memory flee,
   When Thou shalt in Thy Kingdom come,
   Then, Lord, remember me!
                         James Montgomery
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
This communion hymn is found in about 550 hymnals. It also experiences a bit of variation, with many hymnals only using three of the verses—but not all the same ones. Others contain a total of six verses. Cyberhymnal, as usual, has the fullest version:

3. Gethsemane can I forget?
   Or there Thy conflict see,
   Thine agony, and bloody sweat,
   And not remember Thee?

4. When to the cross I turn mine eyes,
   And rest on Calvary,
   O Lamb of God, my sacrifice,
   I must remember Thee;

</idle musing>

Sunday, March 10, 2024

The King of heaven His table spreads

409 Dundee (French). C. M.

1 The King of heaven His table spreads,
   And blessings crown the board;
   Not paradise, with all its joys,
   Could such delight afford.

2 Pardon and peace to dying men,
   And endless life are given,
   Thro' the rich blood that Jesus shed
   To raise our souls to heaven.

3 Millions of souls, in glory now,
   Were fed and feasted here;
   And millions more, still on the way,
   Around the board appear.

4 All things are ready, come away,
   Nor weak excuses frame;
   Come to your places at the feast,
   And bless the Founder’s Name.
                         Philip Doddridge
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Well, it's bit more popular than yesterday's hymn! But not by much, occurring in only 230 hymnals. adds a couple of verses:

3 Ye hungry poor, who long have stray'd
   In sin’s dark mazes, come:
   Come from the hedges and highways
   And grace shall find you room.

5 Yet is His house and heart so large,
   That thousands more may come;
   Nor could the wide assembling world
   O’erfill the spacious room.

</idle musing>

Saturday, March 09, 2024

A baptismal hymn

406 Ffigysbren. 10. 10. 10. 10.

1 Friend of the home: as when in Galilee
   The mothers brought their little ones to Thee,
   So we, dear Lord, would now the children bring,
   And seek for them the shelter of Thy wing.

2 Thine are they, by Thy love’s eternal claim,
   Thine we baptize them in the threefold Name;
   Yet not the sign we trust, Lord, but the grace
   That in Thy fold prepared the lambs a place.

3 Lord, may Thy Church, as with a mother’s care,
   For Thee the lambs within her bosom bear;
   And grant, as morning grows to noon, that they
   Still in her love and holy service stay.

4 Draw thro' the child the parents nearer Thee,
   Endue their home with growing sanctity;
   And gather all, by earthly homes made one,
   In heav'n, O Christ, when earthly days are done.
                         Howell E. Lewis
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
This one only occurs in seventeen hymnals. I'm not sure if I remember singing it at baptismal services or not, but it certainly fits.

While I personally am a firm believer in believer baptism, I grew up in the Methodist Church, which practices infant baptism. This hymn highlights the hopes for infant baptism blossoming into a living faith. And there's a lot to be said for that...
</idle musing>

Friday, March 08, 2024

What will it be?

Once again the great dilemma is: either in Jesus Christ we are confronted by the eternal God in history, so that the person of the historical Christ as man and God is of utmost importance; or Jesus is only the historical medium of a confrontation between me and the act of God which summons me to decision, but in which I reach a self understanding which enables me to live my life bravely. Here christology passes away into some kind of existentialist anthropology.—T. F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, 263

Is he God? Or only worthy of honorable mention?

It is clear now that if we give up the classical christology or even approach Jesus from a purely historical angle, the historical events which belong to the life and death of Jesus fall away as of no final significance. The great dilemma is this: either in Jesus Christ we are confronted by God, and by one whose person is himself of the utmost importance, or Jesus is in the end only a teacher, a religious genius, the greatest man that ever lived but who, before the absolute importance of timeless and eternal truths, sinks into only an honourable mention.—T. F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, 261

Blest be the dear uniting love

44 Tiplady. C. M.

1. Blest be the dear uniting love,
   That will not let us part!
   Our bodies may far off remove,
   We still are one in heart.

2. Joined in one spirit to our Head,
   Where He appoints we go;
   And still in Jesus’ footsteps tread,
   And show His praise below.

3. O may we ever walk in Him,
   And nothing know beside;
   Nothing desire, nothing esteem,
   But Jesus crucified.

4. Partakers of the Saviour's grace,
   The same in mind and heart,
   Nor joy, nor grief, nor time, nor place,
   Nor life, nor death can part.
                         Charles Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Not one of Wesley's more popular hymns, only occurring in about 270 hymnals. But, as is usual with his hymns, there are more verses and hymnals pick and chose which ones. The first three verses seem pretty stable, but after that, it varies. As usual, Cyberhymnal has the fullest:

4. Closer and closer let us cleave
   To His beloved embrace;
   Expect His fullness to receive
   And grace to answer grace.

5. While thus we walk with Christ in light
   Who shall our souls disjoin,
   Souls, which Himself vouchsafes t’unite
   In fellowship divine!

6. We all are one who Him receive,
   The same in mind and heart,
   Nor joy, nor grief, nor time, nor place,
   Nor life, nor death can part.

8. But let us hasten to the day
   Which shall our flesh restore,
   When death shall all be done away,
   And bodies part no more!

</idle musing>

Thursday, March 07, 2024

What the Godness of God means

Sin, however, means the contradiction of the Godness of God — it is sin against his majesty and is counter to his self—giving in love. If sin is an attack upon the very Godness of God, upon God precisely as God, then by his very Godness, his eternal will as God to be who he is must and does resist sin — just in being God. To be God is to be opposed to the private self—assertion of man. There can be only one God who asserts himself to be supreme: as we read in the decalogue, ‘I am the Lord your God . . . You shall have no other gods before me . . . I the Lord your God am a jealous God’. When men and women assert themselves against the Godness of God they are actually asserting themselves to be God, and so placing themselves in direct contradiction to the Godness of God. God resists sin in the full Godness of God — that is the meaning of the wrath of God. That is the negative aspect of his holiness and love, the exclusive aspect of his majesty. God would abdicate from being God, would un-God himself, if he condoned sin.—T. F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, 249

The wrath of God

But let us be quite clear about what the wrath of God means. It is the wrath of the lamb, the wrath of redeeming love. As such the very wrath of God is a sign of hope, not of utter destruction — for if God chastises us then we are sons and daughters, and not bastards, as the scripture puts it. Judgement and wrath mean that far from casting us off, God comes within the existence and relation between the creator and the creature, and negates the contradiction we have introduced into it by and in our sin. God's wrath means that God declares in no uncertain terms that what he has made he still affirms as his own good handiwork and will not cast it off into nothingness. Wrath means that God asserts himself against us as holy and loving Creator in the midst of our sin and perversity and alienation. God's wrath is God's judgement of sin, but it is a judgement in which God asserts that he is the God of the sinner and that the sinner is God's creature: it is a wrath that asserts God's ownership of the creature and that asserts the binding of the creature to the holy and loving God. And yet precisely as such, God's wrath is really a part of atonement, part of new creation, for it is his reaffirmation of his creature in spite of its sin and corruption. It is certainly a reaffirmation of it in judgement over against sin, but a reaffirmation that the creature belongs to God and that he refuses to cease to be its God and therefore refuses to let it go. God’s very wrath tells us that we are children of God. It is the rejection of evil, of our evil by the very love that God himself eternally is.—T. F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, 250

Lord of the living harvest

401 Missionary Hymn. 7. 6. 7. 6. D.

1 Lord of the living harvest
   That whitens o'er the plain,
   Where angels soon shall gather
   Their sheaves of golden grain;
   Accept these hands to labor,
   These hearts to trust and love,
   And deign with them to hasten
   Thy kingdom from above.

2 As laborers in Thy vineyard,
   Send us, O Christ, to be
   Content to bear the burden
   Of weary days for Thee;
   We ask no other wages,
   When Thou shalt call us home,
   But to have shared the travail
   Which makes Thy kingdom come.

3 Be with us, God the Father,
   Be with us, God the Son,
   And God the Holy Spirit,
   Eternal Three in One!
   Make us a royal priesthood,
   Thee rightly to adore,
   And fill us with Thy fullness
   Now and for evermore.
                         John S. B. Monsell
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Well, I don't recall this hymn at all, and it doesn't seem to be very popular, only occurring in a about 125 hymnals. The author of the hymn penned over 300 hymns, but as I looked through the list, I didn't recognize any of them. Apparently some of them were quite popular in the 1800s.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, March 06, 2024

Sin presupposes the nearness of God…

Sin presupposes the nearness of God.

We must go further and say: sin as severance from God presupposes a life-unity with the creator given by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God is God in his freedom to be present to the creature and to realise the relation of the creature to himself. The creature requires relation to the creator in order to be a creature. That relation is given and maintained by the Spirit of God who creates the existence of the creature, but of the creature as a reality distinct from God himself, yet as wholly dependent on God for what it is. There is between God and the human creature a double relation, a two-sided relation, in which the creator gives existence and life to the creature, and in which the Creature depends on the creator for existence and life. That twofold relation is a continuous relation from moment to moment. The human Creature, however, is made not only to have existence but to have fellowship with God, to have a relation filled with sharing in God's light, life and love.—T. F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, 247

<idle musing>
What a fascinating thought! I've never looked at it that way before.
</idle musing>

Oh, how advanced we've become!

If Christ came today we would still crucify him, only no doubt with a greater refinement of cruelty than even the Romans were able to think of.—T. F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, 246

<idle musing>
You know he's right! More's the pity.
</idle musing>

Jesus! the name high over all

400 Gräfenberg. C. M.

1.Jesus! the name high over all,
   in hell or earth or sky;
   angels and mortals prostrate fall,
   and devils fear and fly.

2.Jesus! the name to sinners dear,
   the name to sinners given;
   it scatters all their guilty fear,
   it turns their hell to heaven.

3. O that the world might taste and see
   the riches of his grace!
   The arms of love that compass me
   would all the world embrace.

4. His only righteousness I show,
   his saving truth proclaim;
   'tis all my business here below
   to cry, "Behold the Lamb!"

5. Happy, if with my latest breath
   I may but gasp his name,
   preach him to all and cry in death,
   "Behold, behold the Lamb!"
                         Charles Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Not one of Wesley's more popular hymns, only occurring in 295 hymnals. I don't recall ever singing it, but it was retained in the 1989 update. Interestingly, that update to the United Methodist Hymnal inserts a verse after our verse 3:

4. Thee I shall constantly proclaim,
   though earth and hell oppose;
   bold to confess thy glorious name
   before a world of foes.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, March 05, 2024

Two sides to the cross

It is a very significant fact that neither in the Old Testament nor in the New Testament do we have a deliberate attempt to formulate a doctrine of sin first in an independent or abstract way and then to show over against that background the grace and love of God in redemption. We must be careful therefore to let the gospel of forgiveness and redemption guide us throughout here. As we plant the cross in the midst of our understanding of human sin and estrangement, we remember that the cross has a light side and a dark side. The light side is the glory of the resurrection and its affirmation of man in Christ, and the dark side is the shadow the cross casts on man's inhumanity. It is in that duality of revelation at the cross that we really see into the depths of sin and guilt.—T. F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, 245

Body, mind, and soul—true healing

At this point we are faced with two profound facts of which the New Testament is deeply conscious. First, the fact that when God in Christ comes to heal or save sinners in all their helpless distress, there takes place a struggle with evil will, a struggle which is waged between God and evil not only in the sinner’s heart, not only in their thoughts and desires, but in their bodily and spiritual existence, for the whole creaturely realm is the sphere of this struggle. Hence the Gospels see the closest relation between the spiritual and the physical. The wages of sin is death, as St Paul put it. Sin and physical disintegration and corruption are inseparable. The being and existence of man is under the sway of evil, and therefore even when Jesus heals people of physical distress he does so only through a struggle with evil will, with living and masterful evil power. Nowhere does Jesus heal as a human doctor, but always he heals as one who wrestles personally with evil and overcomes it through the conflict of his own holy will with the unholy powers of evil spirit.—T. F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, 241

The wrong battle (Tozer for Tuesday)

Could it be that we, as we look out upon the world and have tried to identify ourselves and our times, have placed the battle where the battle is not? Could it be that we have located the conflict where it is not? Could it be that we have looked to the gamblers and horse racers as the enemy, and certainly, they are no friends of God? Could it be we have looked at peddlers and the marijuana pushers and said, “There is the enemy”? We have looked at the much-abused American businessman with his carelessness toward heaven and his absorption with earth and said, “Secularism is the enemy.” Could it be that we see the battle where the battle is not and the conflict where God does not find it? Could it be that the conflict is not with a harlot, a gambler and the worldly businessman, but with the religionists? And could it be that the trouble with the world is the kind of religion that we have?—A.W. Tozer, Reclaiming Christianity, 80–81

<idle musing>
Let me remind you that he was writing in the late 1950s to early 1960s! How prophetic of where we are 75 years later.

Lord, have mercy on your church!
</idle musing>

Safely through another week

393 Sabbath. 7. 7. 7. 7. D.

1 Safely through another week,
   God has brought us on our way;
   Let us now a blessing seek,
   Waiting in His courts today;
   Day of all the week the best,
   Emblem of eternal rest;
   Day of all the week the best,
   Emblem of eternal rest.

2 While we pray for pardoning grace,
   Thro' the dear Redeemer's name,
   Show Thy reconciled face,
   Take away our sin and shame;
   From our worldly cares set free,
   May we rest this day in Thee;
   From our worldly cares set free,
   May we rest this day in Thee.

3 Here we come Thy name to praise;
   Let us feel Thy presence near;
   May Thy glory meet our eyes,
   While we in Thy house appear;
   Here afford us, Lord, a taste
   Of our everlasting feast;
   Here afford us, Lord, a taste
   Of our everlasting feast.

4 May Thy gospel's joyful sound
   Conquer sinners, comfort saints;
   Make the fruits of grace abound,
   Bring relief for all complaints;
   Thus may all our Sabbaths prove,
   Till we join the Church above;
   Thus may all our Sabbaths prove,
   Till we join the Church above.
                         John Newton
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
As usual, has additional verses (two of them):

2. Mercies multiplied each hour
   through the week our praise demand;
   Guarded by almighty power,
   fed and guided by His hand;
   Though ungrateful we have been,
   only made returns of sin,
   Though ungrateful we have been,
   only made returns of sin.

5. When the morn shall bid us rise,
   may we feel Thy presence near:
   May Thy glory meet our eyes,
   when we in Thy house appear:
   There afford us, Lord, a taste
   of our everlasting feast,
   There afford us, Lord, a taste
   of our everlasting feast.

</idle musing>

Monday, March 04, 2024

SCOTUS just allowed the Rubicon to be crossed

We are now officially in the decline of the republic stage of the Roman republic. SCOTUS has allowed the former president to be on the ballot, effectively nullifying the Fourteenth Amendment.

I have hopes that the election in November will nullify their decision by reelecting Biden and pushing out the MAGA Republicans from Congress, but…

Seems that congress will need to put some steel into the the Fourteenth Amendment at that point. If not, then say goodbye to a republic and hello to an official Principate, which will rapidly devolve into a monarchy, as they always do.

Meanwhile, I suppose the best thing to do is echo The Who, and say hello to the new boss, same as the old boss. But in all seriousness, it won't affect my belief in the goodness of God in Christ. He is above all kings of the earth and his kingdom will come, despite all our attempts to prevent or cause it.

The depth of evil

But what vexes and distresses God in Christ is not simply the sickness and pain of humanity but the fact that it is engulfed in an abyss of fearful darkness, too deep for men and women themselves to understand and certainly too deep for them ever to get out of it — a pit of bottomless evil power. Mankind is entangled in sin not wholly of its own making, enmeshed in the toils of a vast evil will quite beyond it; it is chained in terror and is dragged down and down into the poisonous source or pit of evil. It is evil at its ultimate source, evil at its deepest root, in its stronghold, that God has come to attack and destroy.—T. F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, 241

The self-giving of the incarnation

But if we really take the biblical view of God, then we must think of God the Father as sending the Son into our lost existence, into unutterable humiliation in order to be really one with us. We must think of God as determining himself freely to be our God, directing himself freely to share in the profoundest way in our frail life, in all its limitations and weaknesses, and even in its lostness, all in order to be our God, and to gather us into fellowship with himself. But in this act of unspeakable humiliation, God was not simply using the humanity of Christ as his organ or instrument, while he remained transcendent to it all. He himself actually came, the immutable God, humbling himself to become a creature and to suffer as a creature our judgement and death, and throughout all that to maintain his sovereign freedom and initiative, even when he gave himself up to the death of the cross, in an offering as unreserved in his self-giving as it was majestically omnipotent and free in its act of grace.—T. F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, 227

break thou the bread of life

387 Bread of Life. 6. 4. 6. 4. D.

1. Break Thou the bread of life, dear Lord, to me,
   As Thou didst break the loaves beside the sea;
   Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord;
   My spirit pants for Thee, O living Word!

2. Bless Thou the truth, dear Lord, to me, to me,
   As Thou didst bless the bread by Galilee;
   Then shall all bondage cease, all fetters fall;
   And I shall find my peace, my all in all.
                         Mary A. Lathbury
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I loved this hymn growing up; still do. According to the bio link above, this hymn was "A 'Study Song' for the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, written in the summer of 1880." It occurs in almost one thousand hymnals.

I figured there must be more stanzas, and sure enough, gives two more:

3. Thou art the bread of life, O Lord, to me,
   Thy holy Word the truth that saveth me;
   Give me to eat and live with Thee above;
   Teach me to love Thy truth, for Thou art love.

4. Oh, send Thy Spirit, Lord, now unto me,
   That He may touch my eyes, and make me see:
   Show me the truth concealed within Thy Word,
   And in Thy Book revealed I see the Lord.

</idle musing>

Sunday, March 03, 2024

O love, how deep, how broad, how high (Thomas à Kempis)

1 O love, how deep, how broad, how high!
   It fills the heart with ecstasy,
   that God, the Son of God, should take
   our mortal form for mortals' sake.

2 He sent no angel to our race
   of higher or of lower place,
   but wore the robe of human frame
   himself, and to this lost world came.

3 For us he was baptized, and bore
   his holy fast, and hungered sore;
   for us temptations sharp he knew;
   for us the tempter overthrew.

4 For us to wicked men betrayed,
   scourged, mocked, in purple robe arrayed,
   he bore the shameful cross and death;
   for us at length gave up his breath.

5 For us he rose from death again,
   for us he went on high to reign,
   for us he sent his Spirit here
   to guide, to strengthen, and to cheer.

6 To him whose boundless love has won
   salvation for us through his Son,
   to God the Father, glory be
   both now and through eternity.
                         Thomas à Kempis
                         Translated by Benjamin Webb
                         From A.W. Tozer, Reclaiming Christianity, 88–89

O word of God incarnate

386 Munich. 7. 6. 7. 6. D.

1 O Word of God incarnate,
   O Wisdom from on high,
   O Truth unchanged, unchanging,
   O Light of our dark sky:
   We praise thee for the radiance
   That from the hallowed page,
   A lantern to our footsteps,
   Shines on from age to age.

2 The Church from her dear Master
   Received the gift divine,
   And still that light she lifteth
   O'er all the earth to shine.
   It is the golden casket
   Where gems of truth are stored;
   It is the heaven-drawn picture
   Of Christ, the living Word.

3 It floateth like a banner
   Before God's host unfurled;
   It shineth like a beacon
   Above the darkling world.
   It is the chart and compass
   That o'er life's surging sea,
   Mid mists and rocks and darkness,
   Still guide, O Christ, to thee.

4 O make Thy Church, dear Savior,
   A lamp of purest gold,
   To bear before the nations
   Thy true light as of old.
   O teach Thy wandering pilgrims
   By this their path to trace,
   Till, clouds and darkness ended,
   They see Thee face to face.
                         William W. How
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Not a terribly popular hymn, only occurring in 441 hymnals. I don't ever recall singing it.

The author of the hymn also wrote a couple other more well-known hymns, such as "For all the saints, who from their labor rest." According to the bio link above, "Called both the 'poor man's bishop' and 'the children's bishop,' How was known for his work among the destitute in the London slums and among the factory workers in west Yorkshire."
</idle musing>

Saturday, March 02, 2024

How lovely is Thy dwelling place

383 Salzburg. C. M.

1. How lovely is Thy dwelling place,
   O Lord of hosts to me!
   The tabernacles of Thy grace
   How pleasant, Lord, they be!

2. My thirsty soul longs ardently,
   Yes, faints Thy courts to see;
   My very heart and flesh cry out,
   O living God, for Thee.

3. Behold the sparrow findeth out
   A house wherein to rest;
   The swallow also, for herself,
   Provided hath a nest.

4. Ee’n Thine own altars, where she safe
   Her young ones forth may bring,
   O Thou, almighty Lord of hosts,
   Who art my God and King.

5. Blest are they in Thy house that dwell,
   They ever give Thee praise,
   Blest is the man whose strength Thou art,
   In whose heart are Thy ways.
                         Scottish Psalter, 1650 (from Ps 84)
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Friday, March 01, 2024

The permanence of the incarnation

Therefore the hypostatic union means that Christ continues to exist as man, risen man and true man even now at the right hand of God, and that he will come again as man, and that it is through this man, as Paul said on Mars Hill, that God would judge the world. That preservation of the human nature of Christ in and through death, resurrection and ascension, is of fundamental importance for the doctrine of atonement, for Christ's heavenly sympathy and intercession, for the sacraments, and for his advent and final judgement. It is of absolute importance for the saving relevance of the gospel of the risen Christ to us who remain creatures of flesh and blood.—T. F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, 209

The incarnation is an act of God's grace

The first thing to be said, is that the hypostatic union must be looked at only from the perspective of God’s amazing act of grace, in which God the Son freely descended into our human existence, and freely assumed human being into oneness with his divine being. That was an act of sheer grace. He did not need to do it. He did not owe it either to himself or to man to do it; it is an act grounded only in the pure overflowing love of God. It is in no sense a two-sided event, for even though there is within it, in the unity of divine and human natures, act of God and act of man, the whole act of incarnation, including all the divine and human acts within the hypostatic union, is grounded solely and entirely and exclusively in the act of God's grace.—T. F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, 206

Glorious things of thee are spoken

382 Austrian Hymn. 8. 7. 8. 7. D.

1 Glorious things of thee are spoken,
   Zion, city of our God;
   He, whose word cannot be broken,
   Formed thee for His own abode.
   On the Rock of Ages founded,
   What can shake thy sure repose?
   With salvation's wall surrounded,
   Thou mayst smile at all thy foes.

2 See, the streams of living waters,
   Springing from eternal love,
   Well supply thy sons and daughters,
   And all fear of want remove.
   Who can faint while such a river
   Ever will their thirst assuage?
   Grace which, like the Lord, the giver,
   Never fails from age to age.

3 Round each habitation hovering,
   See the cloud and fire appear
   For a glory and a covering,
   Showing that the Lord is near!
   Glorious things of thee are spoken,
   Zion, city of our God;
   He, whose word cannot be broken,
   Formed thee for His own abode.
                         John Newton
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
While I don't recall consciously that I sang this, as I read the words, a tune came into my head, so I must have! This is a fairly popular hymn, occurring in almost 1300 hymnals. Cyberhymnal, as usual, has more verses. Verse 3 has a different second half, and verses 4 and 5 are added:

3. Round each habitation hovering,
   See the cloud and fire appear!
   For a glory and a covering
   Showing that the Lord is near.
   Thus deriving from our banner
   Light by night and shade by day;
   Safe they feed upon the manna
   Which He gives them when they pray.

4. Blest inhabitants of Zion,
   Washed in the Redeemer’s blood!
   Jesus, whom their souls rely on,
   Makes them kings and priests to God.
   ’Tis His love His people raises,
   Over self to reign as kings,
   And as priests, His solemn praises
   Each for a thank offering brings.

5. Savior, if of Zion’s city,
   I through grace a member am,
   Let the world deride or pity,
   I will glory in Thy name.
   Fading is the worldling’s pleasure,
   All his boasted pomp and show;
   Solid joys and lasting treasure
   None but Zion’s children know.

</idle musing>