Memorial Day 2019

USS_Bunker_Hill_hit_by_two_Kamikazes

USS Bunker Hill was hit by kamikazes on 11 May 1945. Three hundred eighty-nine personnel were killed or missing and 264 wounded from a crew of 2,600.

Eternal Father, Strong to Save

To all those throughout our nation’s history who sacrificed their lives that we may live in freedom, peace and security.

1 Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm does bind the restless wave,
Who bids the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
O hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea.

2 O Savior, whose almighty word
The winds and waves submissive heard,
Who walked upon the foaming deep,
And calm amid the rage did sleep;
O hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea.

3 O Holy Spirit, who did brood
Upon the waters dark and rude,
And bid their angry tumult cease,
And give for wild confusion peace;
O hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea.

4 O Trinity of love and pow’r,
Your children shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire, and foe,
Protect them where-so-e’er they go;
Thus, evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from air and land and sea.

arlingtonnationalcemetery_feature

Arlington National Cemetery

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Easter Sunday 2019

holy-saturdayChrist the Lord is Risen Today!

1 Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

2 Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!

3 Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where’s thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!

4 Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

5 Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

6 King of glory, soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia!

Holy Saturday 2019

Jesus in TombGreat is Thy Faithfulness

 

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Good Friday 2019

Akin-9THINGSGOODFRIDAY

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, “Christ Crucified”, c. 1677

Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy

Joseph Hart, pub.1759
ref. by Anonymous/Unknown

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and pow’r.

Refrain:
I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
Oh, there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.

Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.

View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies;
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?

Lo! th’ incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.

Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.

Palm Sunday 2019

PalmSunday-58e280f35f9b58ef7e94e120All Glory, Laud, and Honor

1 All glory, laud, and honor
to you, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.
You are the King of Israel
and David’s royal Son,
now in the Lord’s name coming,
the King and Blessed One.

2 The company of angels
is praising you on high;
and we with all creation
in chorus make reply.
The people of the Hebrews
with palms before you went;
our praise and prayer and anthems
before you we present.

3 To you before your passion
they sang their hymns of praise;
to you, now high exalted,
our melody we raise.
As you received their praises,
accept the prayers we bring,
for you delight in goodness,
O good and gracious King!

Come Though Long Expected Jesus

Come, Thou long expected Jesus

Beautifully performed by Fernando Ortega.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne

May your Christmas Season be filled with peace, joy and faith that our Savior is here with us!

Christian Hymns (3)

O Thou in Whose PresenceO Thou in Whose Presence My Soul Takes Delight

… by Joseph Swain (1791).

Additional background on the hymn can be found here and a beautiful rendition here (by Fernando Ortega).

This hymn comes from the Baptists.  There is a Reformed section of the Baptist church.  I don’t know if this hymn came from that theological perspective, but the beauty of thought regarding our Savior nevertheless has made it one of my favorites.

O Thou, in Whose presence my soul takes delight
On Whom in affliction I call
My comfort by day and my song in the night
My hope, my salvation, my all

These are the words of a sinful creature who knows full well that it is only by Jesus Christ that he has been saved.  The response is to delight in Christ and to call upon Him in humble trust when under the weight of affliction.  There is nothing of true lasting value outside of Christ, though through His grace all that is of worldly value arises.

Where dost thou, dear Shepherd, resort with thy sheep?
“To feed them in pastures of love”
Say, why in the valley of death should I weep
Or alone in this wilderness roam?

Note that the sorrows of this world are not ignored, but rather placed within context of Christ’s love and care. Yes, this present world is a fallen wilderness within a valley of death.  But, in Christ, we are yet led to pastures of love within which we are fed by God’s Word and protected by His mercies.

O why should I wander an alien from Thee
Or cry in the desert for bread?
Thy foes will rejoice when my sorrows they see
And smile at the tears I have shed

Yes, there are indeed evildoers aplenty who’s life purpose is to obtain the worldly power by which they can rain down affliction on anyone they choose.  These people rejoice in the suffering that they cause.  And, in the depths of stupidity that only evil can attain imagine that they are humanitarians seeking a better future.  In the meantime they appear to prosper and thereby tempt others to fall into the same evil trap.

He looks, and ten thousands of angels rejoice
And myriads wait for His word
He speaks and eternity, filled with His voice,
Reechoes the praise of the Lord

The ultimate answer to the power of human wickedness is Christ’s infinite power of love.  This verse conveys both the magnitude and beauty of Christ’s power better than any other of which I’m aware.

Dear Shepherd, I hear and will follow Thy call
I know the sweet sound of Thy voice
Restore and defend me, for Thou art my all
And in Thee I will ever rejoice

The penitent sinner calls out to his Savior, trusting that He will hear and respond.  We rejoice in Christ now as only a shadow of what will be experienced in eternity.

Amen.

Christian Hymns (2)

Hymn-Mighty-FortressA Mighty Fortress is Our God

… by Martin Luther, c. 1529.

The great Reformer Martin Luther didn’t write these lyrics as a theoretical exercise.  For Luther had been excommunicated by the Catholic Church in 1521.  The typical punishment for this offense was to be burned at the stake.  Luther thus lived under the most practical threat of death, which was only prevented by the protection of local rulers.

The lyrics are inspired by Psalm 46.  Additional background for the hymn can be found here, and a performance here by Chris Rice.

1

A mighty Fortress is our God,

A Bulwark never failing;

Our Helper He amid the flood

Of mortal ills prevailing:

For still our ancient foe

Doth seek to work us woe;

His craft and power are great,

And, armed with cruel hate,

On earth is not his equal.

The “flood of mortal ills” rolls on and on.  Yes, in some places and times it appears to ebb, but it always returns with terrible force.  We are never free from the ills of this mortal life, be they physical, emotional, social or cultural.  Sin infests everything that we think, and do.

Yet, Luther sees that there is an evil power that exacerbates our fallen state.  It sees in our weaknesses an opportunity to achieve ends far worse than we could attain on our own.  This is also what the Apostle Paul saw when he spoke of “the powers of this dark world” and “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12b).

2

Did we in our own strength confide,

Our striving would be losing;

Were not the right Man on our side,

The Man of God’s own choosing:

Dost ask who that may be?

Christ Jesus, it is He;

Lord Sabaoth His Name,

From age to age the same,

And He must win the battle.

No man can stand against this spiritual force of evil.  In our fallen state we are unable to recognize evil and unwilling to oppose it.  It is only because of Jesus Christ’s intervention on our behalf that the truth of our need can be seen.  And, it is only by the saving act of Christ that we can be redeemed and renewed so as to cooperate in the battle against the evil that lives within us and in the world around us.  Yes, we cooperate because we are “in Christ.”  But it is Christ and Christ alone who “must win the battle.”

3

And though this world, with devils filled,

Should threaten to undo us,

We will not fear, for God hath willed

His truth to triumph through us:

The Prince of Darkness grim,

We tremble not for him;

His rage we can endure,

For lo! his doom is sure,

One little word shall fell him.

If Christ is on our side then we need not fear anyone or anything.  For, it is not our own will but the will of God Himself that truth will triumph through us.

The people who see only worldly power are skilled and relentless about obtaining it.  They thus appear to hold all the levers of worldly power, and have no qualms about using them with “cruel hate.”  But they have utterly failed to reckon with the one God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — Who yet reigns.  Although their evil is bent to serve His purposes, yet when His justice arrives they will be utterly devastated.  Their power is so insubstantial that “one little word” fells them.

4

That word above all earthly powers,

No thanks to them, abideth;

The Spirit and the gifts are ours

Through Him who with us sideth:

Let goods and kindred go,

This mortal life also;

The body they may kill:

God’s truth abideth still,

His Kingdom is forever.

That Word is The Word, Jesus Christ.  Yes, the powers of evil may successfully conspire to take our families, goods and even our very lives from us.  But any victory by evil is only a temporary way station on the road to God’s ultimate truth and justice.  The “Spirit and the gifts” from God provide all that we need to fight on until the end of this mortal life is attained.  But for the Christian that end is actually the beginning of life eternal, lived in God’s perfect truth and worshiping in His Kingdom forever.

Amen

Christian Hymns (1)

Hymn-Fathers-World

This is My Father’s World

… by Maltbie D. Babcock, 1901.

“This is My Father’s World” has the honor of being the first hymn in this series.  I give it this honor not because it contains the greatest theological insight, nor because it packs the greatest emotional wallop.  Rather, it’s because of the pure simplicity of thought placed within a beautiful tune.  And, because of its surprising shift between verses two and three that suddenly contrasts the beauty of God’s creation with the fallen state of our existence within context of God’s providence.  It is the most emotionally encouraging hymn ever written.

Additional background on the hymn can be found here and a beautiful rendition here (by Fernando Ortega).

1

This is my Father’s world,

And to my listening ears

All nature sings, and round me rings

The music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world:

I rest me in the thought

Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas–

His hand the wonders wrought.

We are called to “listen” for God’s good work in creation, a rather surprising perspective given that it is the sense of sight that is far more commonly associated with this topic.  By so doing we are called to experience the beauty of creation at a deeper spiritual level, in which the surface beauty becomes only a thin veil covering God’s purposes.

2

This is my Father’s world:

The birds their carols raise,

The morning light, the lily white,

Declare their Maker’s praise.

This is my Father’s world:

He shines in all that’s fair;

In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,

He speaks to me everywhere.

We continue to listen as God conveys His truth through creation’s song.  All there offers up worship and praise to the Creator.

Now, the profound and unexpected turn occurs.

3

This is my Father’s world.

O let me ne’er forget

That though the wrong

Seems oft so strong,

God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world:

The battle is not done:

Jesus who died shall be satisfied,

And earth and Heav’n be one.

What began as a beauteous celebration of God’s character as revealed by creation concludes with a meditation on the nature of our fallen state.  Yes, superimposed upon creation is a terrible power that distorts and attempts to destroy God’s purposes.  It has been there since time immemorial, and appears to hold all the levers of worldly power.

But sin and death has no real power in God’s world.  Though we mere mortals must live in its shadow, we yet can know with certainty that it has been defeated in the Person of Jesus Christ our Lord.  We therefore can fight the battle against evil with confidence that the victory has already been won.  And, that in the end, God will combine heaven and earth into that eternal perfection that we threw away in the fall.

It is this move from simple celebration of God’s creation to a contemplation on His response to our sin that raises this hymn from the realm of simple beauty to that of profound power to encourage and renew.

Amen