Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Falling Into A Hodge Podge

Welcome to another edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge. If you've answered this week's questions add your link at the end of Joyce's post, then go say howdy to your neighbor there. Thanks for playing along each week!

1.  In a rut, in a jam, in the groove, out of sync, off balance, out of touch...which saying best fits some area of your life currently (or recently)? Explain.  Out of sync would best fit me right now.  I just can't seem to get my many hats worn at the right time.  I feel as if I am a day late and a dollar short.  I am really struggling to keep all my ducks in a row.

2. What is it about somebody else's style of work (coworker/employee/shared volunteer project/household chore) that makes you crazy? Why?  For me it is the use of technology by the young whippersnappers.  They seem to draw all the attention on themselves and those of us who make a small technology contribution just seem like we are old dogs trying new tricks.

3. What's a tradition that always makes you feel at home?  Thanksgiving would have to be my answer.  It is my favorite holiday.  I love the gathering of kith and kin around the hearth.


4. A favorite song with a girl's name in the title or lyrics? Any reason why this is a particular favorite?  I love music so I have many and some are copies of Joyce's.  Annie's Song (John Denver), Beth (Kiss), Sweet Caroling (Neil Diamond), Aimee (Pure Prairie League), Amanda (Don Williams), I'm Not Lisa (Jesse Colter)...and my favorite would be Mary Did You Know (Pentatonix).  I could sing this song year round.  It is so powerful.

5. Share a favorite quote, verse, or saying relating to gratitude or thanksgiving.

 

6. Insert your own random thought here.  Fall is my favorite season and Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It is a wonderful time to take that road less traveled and converse with God in nature.

 

 




Thursday, November 2, 2017

We Gather Together - Number 131

The United Methodist Hymnal, No. 131  is one of my favorite hymns for the Thanksgiving season.  I get so excited when it is time to sing this song.  The words are so very powerful. 

“We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens his will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing. 
Sing praises to his name; he forgets not his own.”

In many hymnals, “We gather together” appears as a Thanksgiving hymn. Perhaps this is because of the opening line and the general idea that God is with us regardless of our circumstances. However, the hymn speaks more about God’s providence throughout the trials of life. The story behind this hymn clarifies its text.   This hymn is a late 16th-century expression of celebration of freedom by The Netherlands from Spanish oppression. Like many older hymns, it finds its way to us through a circuitous route.   It was first published in Nederlandtsch Gedenckclanck (1626), a collection by Adrianus Valerius in Haarlem. Austrian Edward Kremser (1838-1914) included it in Sechs Altniederl√§ndische Volkslieder (Six Old Netherlands Folksongs) in 1877 for his men’s chorus, all six anonymous songs taken from the Valerius collection 250 years earlier.   According to UM Hymnal editor Carlton Young, the performance of these tunes led to their popularity and the inclusion in many hymnals.  The story extends to the U.S. through Theodore Baker (1851-1934), a New York-born musicologist who studied in Leipzig and authored the famous Biographical Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Baker translated the hymn from German for an anthem entitled “Prayer for Thanksgiving” published in 1894. It is from Baker that the hymn gets its traditional Thanksgiving connection. The Dutch, long a stronghold for the Reformed theology of John Calvin, were in a struggle against Spain for their political independence and against the Catholic Church for religious freedom. A 12-year truce was established in 1609, giving young Prince Frederick Henry a chance to mature into an able politician and soldier.  During this time, the Dutch East India Company extended its trade beyond that of the English. The high period of Dutch art flourished with Hals, Vermeer and Rembrandt. Under the guidance of the Prince’s leadership, Spain’s efforts to regain supremacy on land and sea were finally overcome in 1648. There was indeed much for which to be thankful.  Some of the political overtones in this hymn faithfully translated by Baker are apparent. Hymnologist Albert Bailey suggests that the phrase, “The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing,” is an allusion to the persecution of the Catholic Church under the policies of Spain. Thousands had been massacred and hundreds of homes burned by the Spanish in 1576 during the siege of Antwerp.  In stanza two, the writer states, “so from the beginning the fight we were winning,” stressing that Protestants had always been assured of winning the cause. The truce of 1609 proved that the Lord “wast at our side.”   The final stanza is a series of petitions—
“ ...pray that thou still our defender will be.
Let thy congregation escape tribulation;
thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!”

This is an eschatological stanza. The ultimate battle has not been won and will not be won until all battles cease.  An interesting sidebar was that Baker’s anthem inspired another hymn.   A young Julia Cady Cory (1882-1963) heard this text in 1902 at her church, Brick Presbyterian in New York City. Cory’s “We praise thee, O God, our Redeemer, Creator” is a more general hymn of praise and thanksgiving that also uses the Dutch tune KREMSER. Cory’s hymn did not include any reference to nationalism, making it a more general ecumenical hymn of thanksgiving.  The United Methodist Hymnal has placed this hymn in the “Providence” section rather with other traditional Thanksgiving hymns, broadening its use for thanksgiving during any difficult times.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Season of Thanksgiving.






We are coming upon a season of Thanks.  It is one of my most favorite times of the year.  As this holiday season approaches you will most likely hear the song “My Favorite Things” from the Broadway musical The Sound of Music. To me this song has always felt out of place during the holidays, until recently. I have begun to hear it in a new light, recognizing the famous list of “favorite things” as a list of reasons to be thankful. The character Maria, who sings this song, thinks about her list of favorite things when she seeks comfort.  We as Christians have a list as well. Our list is found in the Bible.  They are promises from our Lord – keepsakes we can cling to at all times including periods of worry, trouble, or despair. These promises urge Christ-followers not to be troubled or to feel alone. They are words offering great hope because they are not the words of mere men. They are inspired, never-changing words given to us from our Savior and Lord. Read through a few of these promises below:
The Lord will give His people strength. Psalm 29:11
The Lord hears our cries. Psalm 34:17
The Lord will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4-5
The Lord will answer when you call to Him. Jeremiah 33:3
You need not be afraid. God is with you. Isaiah 41:13
The Lord will give rest to your burdened soul. Matthew 11:28-29
The Lord will comfort you. John 14:27
The Lord has given us His Spirit to guide us. Acts 1:8
You will have everlasting life when you believe. John 3:16
Our list can go on and on. The Lord promises us mercy, protection, strength, eternity, love, and forgiveness. As it says in the Bible, God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18) and His word is truth (John 17:1). We cannot look at God’s promises like we do those of our friends and family. As people, we often promise, but don’t follow through, even when we have the best of intentions. God’s Word is binding and true. These promises hold fast. We do not have to wonder if they will happen. Rather, we ought to wait in expectation. So “when the dog bites, when the bee stings, when you’re feeling sad,” I encourage you to remember all God has promised you. It is in these promises you will find great strength.  As you celebrate Thanksgiving, in addition to thinking through all you are thankful for, take time to thank God for His many promises.
Blessings, Karen