Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sunday's A Comin'...

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.

 "Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

Saturday, March 26, 2016

And, So We Wait...

The Power of the Cross

Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood. 

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross. 

Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Ev'ry bitter thought,
Ev'ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow. 

Now the daylight flees;
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
"Finished!" the vict'ry cry.

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love. 

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Son of God—slain for us.
What a love! What a cost! 
We stand forgiven at the cross.

~Keith Getty & Stuart Townend

Friday, March 25, 2016

Friday Is Here...

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 through 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?

~Isaac Watts 

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Triumphal Entry--Not So Much

“Did she really just say that?”  Yes, she did.  Before you put my name on the “burn her at the stake” list--or remove me from the membership rolls, hear me out. 

Let me take you back to the recent marital festivities of Prince William and his lovely bride, Kate Middleton.  There were yards of satin and lace, trumpet fanfares, gilded carriages, and regal equine.  Her train was nearly as long as the local football pitch and the pipe organ music moved many to tears.  Her prince stood at the altar, in full regalia, while the fortunate invitees looked on from their uncomfortable pews--and the rest of the world watched online, on television, on gigantic screens in Trafalgar Square. 

Whether we would own up to it or not, we followed their love story with rapt attention.  And, seemingly everyone knew about The Wedding. Even those who don’t keep up with or really care about such things (like My Favorite Philosopher) knew that somewhere in Britain, a handsome prince and a beautiful bride were tying the knot

Let’s go back about two thousand years.

He was born in the lowliest of circumstances--in a stable, among noisy, smelly animals.  Raised in Nazareth ("Does anything good ever come from there?", inquired one future follower), he was the earthly son of a Jewish carpenter.  No rank, no privilege, no status.  But, one small catch--he is the Son of God.

After three years of teaching, brilliantly putting the Pharisees in their place, miracles, and generally silencing those who would identify Him as who He really was, the time comes for the reveal.  His followers are hoping for a battalion of soldiers in full weaponry, a lithe white stallion prancing, and a myriad of musicians, announcing the King’s arrival.  Surely, He will make His presence known, the epitome of pomp and circumstance.  He travels toward Jerusalem, knowing full well what awaits Him.

And, he arrives on the foal of a donkey.  What the bless?!? This must be a mistake. 

There’s no hyperactive hottie carpenter, hollering “Move That Bus!”. He enters the city on a beast of burden, a close relative of the mule.  A servile animal that represents humility and peace.  To make matters worse, they don’t even have a saddle!  Well-worn garments are hastily placed on the donkey’s back as a replacement for the necessary tack.    And, the only sound one might have heard was the tentative braying of the “chariot” carrying the King.

At first.   Then, the exhausted, rag-tag pilgrim crowd notices Him.  And, they begin to point. Knowing of His words and works, they recognize Him as one who comes in the Name of the Lord.  Hosanna.  Battered tunics and dusty cloaks are tossed on the path, creating an aisle runner for his entrance and palm branches are waved in His honor. 

Unlike many royal processionals, He is not returning victorious from battle, glowing with triumph.  There are no dancers celebrating the spoils, or singers joyfully touting his accomplishments on the field.  A Royal Event Planner’s nightmare. 

The battle is just about to begin.  Pain and agony, of unfathomable kinds, are in store for the Man riding the foal.  He knows it. 

The triumph is yet to come. 

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
    Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
    righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
~ Zechariah 9:9

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Kiss Me--I'm (Pretending) to be Irish!

While I have no Irish blood in my veins (unless you count having green eyes and portraying Mrs. Paroo, Marion the Librarian's Celtic mum in my high school's production of "The Music Man"), I have always been intrigued by this holiday.  I am told by my genuinely Irish brother-in-law that Americans celebrate St. Patty's Day with infinitely more gusto (and Guinness) than those across the pond. 

Again, this year, Irish Soda Bread is on the menu.  As is some veggie appetizer configuration of the Irish flag.  Likely using ranch dressing as the white portion because, let's face it, no one but me will eat the cauliflower.  And at Mini-Hooper's request, a super-cool science experiment involving buttermilk, food coloring, and artistic whimsy--we make rainbows. 

Here are some serious and not-so-serious takes on St. Patrick's Day.  Aye, 'tis a wee sampler.

The Veggie Tales version:

The Muppets sing a classic--well, sort of:

May you always be blessed with walls for the wind,
A roof for the rain,
A warm cup of tea by the fire.
Laughter to cheer you,
Those you love near you,
And all that your heart might desire.
~Irish Blessing

Thursday, March 10, 2016

It's Raining, It's Pouring and Other Precipitation-Promoting Ditties

"The last time there was a flood like this, Noah built himself an ark."  We haven't seen any animals gallop, stroll, or scamper past us, two-by-two; but, raindrops, a plethora (I adore that word!) of raindrops, keep falling on our heads here in the rhinestone-studded buckle of the Bible belt.  It's been raining here since about two o'clock Wednesday morning, give or take an hour.  It's a very pleasant sound.  One that likely inspired some songwriting.  As we listened to the rhythm of the falling rain, my Favorite Philosopher and I started swapping soggy song stylings, a musical Jeopardy.  Or Name That Tune.  Let's get the obvious ones out of the way, tout de suite.

The lip-sync (un)masterpiece, Blame It on the Rain.  Annie Lennox and Here Comes the Rain Again.  Gene Kelly tap dancing his way down the lane just Singin' In the Rain.  For the classic country folks, there is Eddie Rabbitt's I Love a Rainy Night.  

Falling into the classic crooners and groovy blues guitarist categories come Julie London's version of September in the Rain and Wes Montgomery's Here's That Rainy Day, respectively.  My ever-expanding knowledge and appreciation of such nifty tracks is a delightful educational process.  I know that you wouldn't generally apply croon-er to a female vocalist; but, croon-ette sounds like a disappointing offshoot of the Mickey Mouse Club.  Take a listen to Julie, you'll hear what I mean.  

For soundtrack lovers, there's the artist formerly known as Prince but who was known as Prince when the song came out:  Purple Rain.  And, side B of the 1977 Grease soundtrack features a fantastically dismal song entitled It's Raining on Prom Night.  Complete with a heart-breaking monologue by a jilted prom queen who lost her corsage and her sister's i.d. 

And I would be remiss in my "yes, I once had a wall poster of John Taylor hanging in my bedroom" fandom if I neglected to mention Hold Back the Rain.  Duran Duran.  Rio.  You can borrow my cassette tape.  Yup.  I'm so vintage. 

Then came the lyrics that involve rain.  Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.  How about Rain keeps falling, rain keeps falling, down, down, down.  Sound of Music and The Breakfast Club, respectively.  Then, we ran aground.  I'm sure that you could come up with a few of your own.  No fair Googling.  Use your noggin.  Squee--and whee!

In case you were wondering, the prom queen's corsage and i.d. fell down the sewer.

Kleenex not included.

Thursday, March 3, 2016