Away With Sorrow

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I look forward to this week here in the mountains. The sunflowers are in bloom on Eager Hill. The minor surgery I had last week has knocked the stuffings out of me a bit, but taking the climb slowly allowed me to appreciate the scents and sounds and changing light as spring showers shifted through the sky. I took frequent breaks and simply breathed in joy.

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Mein gläubiges Herze,
Frohlocke, sing, scherze,
Dein Jesus ist da!
Weg Jammer, weg Klagen,
Ich will euch nur sagen:
Mein Jesus ist nah.

My faithful heart,
delight, sing, play,
your Jesus is here!
Away with sorrow, away with lamenting,
I will only say to you:
my Jesus is near.
-J.S. Bach

IMG_9070 Eager Hill May

Release your heart’s joy in sweet music to the Eternal.
    When the upright passionately sing glory-filled songs to Him, everything is in its right place.
Worship the Eternal with your instruments, strings offering their praise;
    write awe-filled songs to Him on the 10-stringed harp.
Sing to Him a new song;
    play each the best way you can,
    and don’t be afraid to be bold with your joyful feelings.

 For the word of the Eternal is perfect and true;
    His actions are always faithful and right.
 He loves virtue and equity;
    the Eternal’s love fills the whole earth.

(Psalm 33:1-5)

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One Thing I Have Asked

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The Lord is my Light and my Salvation—whom shall I fear or dread? The Lord is the Refuge and Stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked, even my enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, [even then] in this will I be confident.

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek, inquire for, and [insistently] require: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, to behold and gaze upon the beauty [the sweet attractiveness and the delightful loveliness] of the Lord and to meditate, consider, and inquire in His temple.

For in the day of trouble He will hide me in His shelter; in the secret place of His tent will He hide me; He will set me high upon a rock.

And now shall my head be lifted up above my enemies round about me; in His tent I will offer sacrifices and shouting of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord. (Psalm 27: 1-6 Amplified)


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This thought came to me as I drove home past Columbia Lake. As I crossed over a very ordinary little bridge spanning a small stream  it dawned on me that this is the mighty Columbia River that eventually supplies water for the hydro-electric power that lights the night and for the irrigation systems that produce food for much of the north western USA. I read somewhere that the Koine Greek word translated as “head” (as in Christ is head of the church) in most English versions of the Bible, carries the connotation of the source or the head as in headwaters.

The source of the headwaters of this river is a beautiful lake in the Rocky Mountain trench. The little Columbia River is backed up by something much greater than itself.

 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.

(Ephesians 4:15)

You cannot give what you have never received. It is not authority or recognition of position or honour flowing back to a leader that makes them great. It is what flows out of a person that makes them great -and a great leader knows his or her Source.

He Merely Pointed to the Light

From the mission

Foibles. Even the great have them.

Sometimes the great have more than foibles; they have character flaws that in any other circumstance but the one that thrust them into the role of hero, could have them hung from the gallows. When we are desperate enough to need a hero we are willing to waive that factor.

We tend to deify heroes when we have to depend on them and vilify them when we are done. Rarely do we offer them the privilege of being neither gods nor devils. Rather, we fail to recognize them as fellow-pilgrims who struggle with temptations (some greater than any of us will ever know).  I’ve been thinking about fallen leaders and grace. I’ve no one in particular in mind; there have been so many.

No doubt a higher level of responsibility requires greater purity of thought and character. When a leader falls he drags a lot of people down with him. Collateral damage can be significant. But sometimes the pedestal is not of his own making. I read this interesting verse about John the Baptist today:

A man named John, who was sent by God, was the first to clearly articulate the source of this Light.  This baptizer put in plain words the elusive mystery of the Divine Light so all might believe through him. Some wondered whether he might be the Light,  but John was not the Light. He merely pointed to the Light.  The true Light, who shines upon the heart of everyone, was coming into the cosmos. (John 1:6-9 The Voice)

It seems that some who felt drawn to his message were tempted to think he was The Light. Jesus said that up until that point there was no one born of woman who was greater than John, but even John succumbed to one of the greatest sins for a man in his position -doubting God’s word. In Matthew 3 we are told he saw the dove descend from heaven, he heard the Voice declare, “This is My beloved son.” Nothing subtle requiring interpretation there. Yet later, in a moment of weakness, when he is in prison, (Matthew 11) John sent his own groupies to ask if Jesus was actually The Light or if they should look for someone else. (Like Elijah he seemed to be seriously intimidated by the King’s wife.) I wonder how confused this must have left John’s followers?

I don’t remember this part of his character being taught in Sunday School. Most of the time we were told to be like John the Baptist (who also doubted), be like Esther (who also used sex to collaborate with the enemy), be like Gideon (who also created a false item of worship), be like Hezekiah (who also didn’t care about his sons’ futures), be like David (who also conspired to murder to cover up adultery)… The teacher ignored the parts about their failures. Bible characters were as one-sided as the flannel board avatars  placed up on the easel.

We still do it. We take a leader with remarkable gifts of encouragement, or teaching, or healing or prophesying and stick them way up in the air on a pedestal with barely enough room for feet of clay. Then we hang our hopes on them.

No doubt many servants of God are tempted to use this position for self-aggrandizement — especially those with unhealed wounds of rejection — and by so doing hasten their own fall. Some folks, who consider it their calling in life to point out weaknesses and to make sure no one is disappointed like they once were,  drag people in public life down  and hit them with their own shoes, as if proof of  failure in one area invalidated everything they ever did or said.

Confronted with the evidence of John’s weakness, Jesus chose to publicly honour him, to point out that others in the crowd were also guilty of unbelief and to replace John’s words of doubt and fear with words of truth.

All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Matthew 11:27)

I wonder if the only way a leader can survive on a tiny platform in the air, not of his or her own making, is to know who they are and who they are not and just keep pointing to Jesus Christ.

I wonder if, in some instances, a public fall may actually be a manifestation of grace to shift people’s adoration away from the hero and toward the Saviour Himself.

I wonder if the best way to support  leaders is to earnestly pray they will be kept from the evil one and not be led into temptation.

We need to stop turning fellow travellers into false idols, take our eyes off them and look instead  to where they are pointing — toward the Light.

Wait For It…

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But here on this mountain, God-of-the-Angel-Armies

will throw a feast for all the people of the world,

A feast of the finest foods, a feast with vintage wines,

a feast of seven courses, a feast lavish with gourmet desserts.

And here on this mountain, God will banish

the pall of doom hanging over all peoples,

The shadow of doom darkening all nations.

Yes, he’ll banish death forever.

And God will wipe the tears from every face.

He’ll remove every sign of disgrace

From his people, wherever they are.

Yes! God says so!


 Also at that time, people will say,

“Look at what’s happened! This is our God!

We waited for him and he showed up and saved us!

This God, the one we waited for!

Let’s celebrate, sing the joys of his salvation.

God’s hand rests on this mountain!”

(Isaiah 25:6-10 The Message)

Oh Holy Night: Chante ta délivrance!

Midnight The Solemn Hour
The Solemn Hour

I try to be positive. I really do. I usually appreciate any attempt at singing. Song is a free gift that can be enjoyed by anyone. But to me some songs are sacred, holy, set apart and meant to glorify God. They are not meant to be recorded by pop singers with no sense of phrasing, or breath control, who have inadequate diction and obviously no emotional connection to the lyrics, and then piped through the aisles of Stuffmart to create background noise for harried shoppers who don’t give a damn. I’ve threatened to go postal if I hear Santa Baby in the produce aisle one more time -but that’s just irritating. It’s hearing one of the greatest hymns/carols of all time massacred over and over that makes me want to plop down on the floor by the gift boxed baubles and weep.

(Rant over)

When I taught singing my students often asked if they could work on “Oh Holy Night.”

“Not for a few years yet,” I told most of them. “And when you do it will  in the original language.”


“Because your voice isn’t ready and because you have heard it so often in English you can’t hear the words anymore. Most versions drop half the lyrics anyway. I want you to study it, to translate it, to concentrate and savour every note and every word.”

Like songs that are sung year after year and have lost their flavour like chewing gum on the bedpost overnight, we can become so familiar with the goodness of God we cease to grasp the depth and height and width of it. We fail to comprehend the massiveness of His love. We take it for granted. We develop a sense of entitlement, as if God owes us freedom, and deliverance from slavery to sin. We fail to pay attention.

Translations that have to fit the meter and accents of a set piece of music are never entirely accurate, but here is another English translation of Minuit, Chretien. Listen to the words again.

Midnight, Christians, it is the solemn hour,
When God as man descended unto us
To erase the stain of original sin
And to end the wrath of His Father.
The entire world thrills with hope
On this night that gives it a Saviour.

People kneel down, wait for your deliverance.
Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer,
Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer!

May the ardent light of our Faith
Guide us all to the cradle of the infant,
As in ancient times a brilliant star
Guided the Oriental kings there.
The King of Kings was born in a humble manger;
O mighty ones of today, proud of your greatness,

It is to your pride that God preaches.
Bow your heads before the Redeemer!
Bow your heads before the Redeemer!

The Redeemer has broken every bond:
The Earth is free, and Heaven is open.
He sees a brother where there was only a slave,
Love unites those that iron had chained.
Who will tell Him of our gratitude,
For all of us He is born, He suffers and dies.

People stand up! Sing of your deliverance,
Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer,
Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer!

Attend ta Délivrance Pay Attention
ta Délivrance

From the English version:

Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory evermore proclaim!
His power and glory evermore proclaim!

(Link to video in comments)