Wednesdays with Words – April 23, 2014

I’m reading By Design by Susan Hunt for my Sunday School class this quarter.  It is an excellent, balanced book on God’s design for women and how they can contribute to the Church.  Here are a few quotes:

“We were created to help, not hinder. We were created to complete, not compete. Competition destroys relationships, and the writer of Proverbs said: “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down” (Proverbs 14:1).”

“Woman’s helper design is not so much what we do but rather who we are. It is not the only aspect of who we are, but it is an essential part of our essence. ”

“In other words, in many situations men and women may do much the same thing. But our design equips us to bring a unique perspective to that role. We put our own female spin on the particular task, and that is as it should be.”

“We must not dilute the worth of our design as women by capitulating to the voices in our culture that say we have to do the same things as men in order to have value.”

“When we join a church, we place ourselves under the authority and protection of the elders (or governing body) of that church in matters relating to church-life, realizing that the Holy Spirit has guided in their selection (Acts 20:28). We enter into a covenant relationship that involves accountability. ”

“The decision to join a church is not a social decision; it is a spiritual decision with spiritual ramifications.”

“Any genuine resurgence of Christianity, as history demonstrates, depends on a reawakening and renewal of that which is the essence of the faith-that is, the people of God, the new society, the body of Christ, which is made manifest in the world-the Church. “

April is Poetry Month – Day 23

In honor of Shakespeare, who died on this day in 1616, I am posting one of his most famous sonnets with a link to a wonderful reading of it:

SONNET 29

When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state, 
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate, 
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, 
Featur’d like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope, 
With what I most enjoy contented least; 
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state, 
Like to the lark at break of day arising 
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings. 

 

Matthew Macfadyen reads Sonnet 29

April is Poetry Month – April 21, 2014

Another by George Herbert:

 

Easter

 

Rise, heart, thy lord is risen. Sing his praise

Without delays,

Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise

With him may’st rise:

That, as his death calcinèd thee to dust,

His life may make thee gold, and, much more, just.

 

Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part

With all thy art,

The cross taught all wood to resound his name

Who bore the same.

His stretchèd sinews taught all strings what key

Is best to celebrate this most high day.

 

Consort, both heart and lute, and twist a song

Pleasant and long;

Or, since all music is but three parts vied

And multiplied

Oh let thy blessèd Spirit bear a part,

And make up our defects with his sweet art.

April is Poetry Month – Easter Sunday

“But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.  And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”

 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.”  – Matthew 28:5-8

I have had the poem for Easter chosen for some time.  It is by Edmund Spenser, a poet who wrote during the time of Queen Elizabeth I of England.  He is probably most famous for his book, The Fairie Queene (If you haven’t read this, please don’t hesitate to find a copy and read at least some of it.  It is the famous story of the Red Cross Knight who killed the dragon), but he wrote many other poems and this one is particularly fitting for today, Easter Sunday:

Amoretti LXVIII: Most Glorious Lord of Life

BY EDMUND SPENSER

Most glorious Lord of life, that on this day,
Didst make thy triumph over death and sin:
And having harrow’d hell, didst bring away
Captivity thence captive, us to win:
This joyous day, dear Lord, with joy begin,
And grant that we for whom thou diddest die,
Being with thy dear blood clean wash’d from sin,
May live for ever in felicity.
And that thy love we weighing worthily,
May likewise love thee for the same again:
And for thy sake, that all like dear didst buy,
With love may one another entertain.
So let us love, dear love, like as we ought,
Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.

April is Poetry Month – Holy Saturday

holy-saturday.jpg (393×340)

 

Here at the centre everything is still
Before the stir and movement of our grief
Which bears it’s pain with rhythm, ritual,
Beautiful useless gestures of relief.
So they anoint the skin that cannot feel
Soothing his ruined flesh with tender care,
Kissing the wounds they know they cannot heal,
With incense scenting only empty air.
He blesses every love that weeps and grieves
And makes our grief the pangs of a new birth.
The love that’s poured in silence at old graves
Renewing flowers, tending the bare earth,
Is never lost. In him all love is found
And sown with him, a seed in the rich ground.

–Malcolm Guite

April is Poetry Month – Good Friday

Why is this called “Good” Friday when the most holy, righteous, perfect man who ever lived was cruelly killed?  It is “good” because he voluntarily gave His life so that you and I might live.  Hallelujah!  What a Saviour!

I have a poem and a hymn today to help us meditate on His sacrifice:

 

The Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot

East Coker, IV

The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we fell
The sharp compassion of the healer’s art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind of our, and Adam’s, curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.

The whole earth is our hospital
Endowed by the ruined millionaire,
Wherein, if we do well, we shall
Die of the absolute paternal care
That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.

The chill ascends from feet to knees,
The fever sings in mental wires.
If to be warmed, then I must freeze
And quake in frigid purgatorial fires
Of which the flame is roses and the smoke is briars.

The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food;
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood–
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died;
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ, my God;
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See, from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all. –Isaac Watts

 

 

April is Poetry Month – Maundy Thursday

 

As this is Holy Week, I wanted to find a poem that remembered some of the main events in the life of Christ.  Maundy Thursday is celebrated throughout the world as the day on which the Last Supper occurred.  “Maundy” comes from the Latin word mandatum, meaning commandment since the Lord gave His disciples (and us) several commands during the Last Supper, especially to remember Him each time we take communion.

Here is a poem that commemorates that last meal:

Here is the source of every sacrament,

The all-transforming presence of the Lord,

Replenishing our every element

Remaking us in his creative Word.

For here the earth herself gives bread and wine,

The air delights to bear his Spirit’s speech,

The fire dances where the candles shine,

The waters cleanse us with His gentle touch.

And here He shows the full extent of love

To us whose love is always incomplete,

In vain we search the heavens high above,

The God of love is kneeling at our feet.

Though we betray Him, though it is the night.

He meets us here and loves us into light.

–Malcolm Guite, Sounding the Seasons