Not Till Then

Alistair Begg carries so many poems, tunes, scriptures, hymns in his memory.  Today I heard this for the first time so had to find it in hymn form.  I like it a lot.





Prayer for the Church

Gracious Father, we humbly ask on behalf of your Church. Fill it with all truth; and all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purge it; where it is in error, direct it; where it is superstitious, rectify it; where anything is amiss, reform it; where it is right, strengthen and confirm it; where is in need, furnish it; where it is divided and torn apart, unite it, O Holy One of Israel.
Archbishop William Laud

Thanks to Trevin Wax’s Prayer Room

Obliquely, Hesitantly, Ambiguously

Over the years I have read a number of Buechner’s books, have enjoyed them, learned from them, and not agreed with everything the author said. My reaction to his latest,  A Crazy, Holy Grace: The Healing Power of Pain and Memory is no different.  Buechner (pronounced Beekner), is easy to read, and good at conveying ideas using unexpected examples or language.  He is gentle and encouraging.  However, to me, he often seems to be dancing around the point, but never really hitting it. He mentioned that in this book:

I have never risked much in disclosing the little I have of the worst that I see in my mirror, and I have not been much more doing in disclosing the best. I have seen with the eye of my heart the great hope to which he has called us, but out of some shyness or diffidence I rarely speak of it, and in my books I have tended to write about it for the most part only obliquely, hesitantly, ambiguously, for fear of losing the ear and straining the credulity of the readers to whom such hope seems just wishful thinking. For fear of overstating, I have tended especially in my nonfiction books to understate, because that seemed a more strategic way of reaching the people I would most like to reach who are the ones who more or less don’t give religion the time of day. But maybe beneath that lies the fear that if I say too much about how again and again over the years I have experienced holiness—even here I find myself drawing back from saying God or Jesus—as a living, healing, saving presence in my life, then I risk being written off as some sort of embarrassment by most of the people I know and like.
For the most part it is only in my novels that I have allowed myself to speak unreservedly of what with the eyes of my heart I have seen.

Perhaps I would prefer his novels.

One passage in this book that I did like was in a section titled Depression, in which he referred to Psalm 131.  Although I have always understood the first verse to be more a statement of humility and faith rather than a result or expression of depression I appreciate his interpretation.

                       Psalm 131

O lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore.

Buechner on the first verse:
       To be in a state of depression is like that.  It is to be unable to occupy yourself
with anything much except your….depression….You do not raise either your
heart or your eyes to the heights, because to do so only reminds you that you are yourself in the depths…
        “But I have calmed and quieted my soul,” he continues, and you can’t help thinking that, although maybe that’s better than nothing, it’s not much better.  Depression is itself a kind of calm, as in becalmed, and a kind of quiet, as in a quiet despair.
        Only then do you discover that he is speaking of something entirely different.  He says it twice to make sure everybody understands.  “Like a child quieted at its mother’s breast,” he says, and then again “like a child that is quieted is my soul.”
And his description of that phrase I especially liked:
   A kind of blessed languor that comes with being filled and somehow also fulfilled; the sense that no dark time that has ever been and no dark time that will ever be can touch this true and only time; shalom—something like that is the calm and quiet he has found.



Every truth is a reflection; behind the reflection and giving it value, is the Light. Every being is a witness; every fact is a divine secret; beyond them is the object of the revelation, the hero witnessed to. Everything true stands out against the Infinite as against its background; is related to it; belongs to it. A particular truth may indeed occupy the stage, but there are boundless immensities beyond. One might say a particular truth is only a symbol, a symbol that is real, a sacrament of the absolute (31).  A.G. Sertillanges, O.P. in The Intellectual Life.

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How Amiable are Thy Dwellings

O how amiable are thy dwellings: thou Lord of hosts!
My soul hath a desire and longing to enter into the courts of the Lord:
My heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.

Yea, the sparrow hath found her an house,
and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young:
even thy altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.

Blessed are they that dwell in thy house:
They will be alway praising thee.
The glorious Majesty of the Lord our God be upon us:
prosper thou the work of our hands upon us.

O prosper thou our handy-work,
O prosper thou our handy-work.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Written by R. Vaughan Williams in 1940, text taken from Psalms 84 and 90.

This is one of the pieces of music my choir has been rehearsing.  What we lack in numbers we make up for in heart.

What is Justice?

What is justice?  Is it the same across time and culture?  How is it determined?  When we demand justice for someone or some group do we deny justice to another?  If so, how is this just?  If it is based on current cultural norms why do we have the right to determine another culture or time as unjust?

“If there is no authority that demands and defines justice it is only a personal or mob notion.” Annita