Saturday, August 08, 2009

If it be all for naught

Saturday, August 8, 2009
    Feast of Dominic, Priest, Founder of the Order of Preachers, 1221

    If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
    —1 Corinthians 15:13,14 (NIV)

If it be all for naught, for nothingness
At last, why does God make the world so fair?
Why spill this golden splendor out across
The western hills, and light the silver lamp
Of eve? Why give me eyes to see, and soul
To love so strong and deep? Then, with a pang
This brightness stabs me through, and wakes within
Rebellious voice to cry against all death?
Why set this hunger for eternity
To gnaw my heartstrings through, if death ends all?
If death ends all, then evil must be good,
Wrong must be right, and beauty ugliness.
God is a Judas who betrays His Son,
And with a kiss, damns all the world to hell,—
If Christ rose not again.
    ... Anonymous, Unknown soldier, killed in World War I, included in Masterpieces of Religious Verse, James Dalton Morrison, ed., New York: Harper & Bros., 1948, p. 205 (see the book)

Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, You vindicate Your creation.

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Friday, August 07, 2009

John of Damascus: The day of resurrection!

Friday, August 7, 2009
    Commemoration of John Mason Neale, Priest, Poet, 1866

    While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’”
    —Luke 24:4-7 (NIV)

’Tis the day of resurrection!
    Earth! tell it out abroad!
The Passover of gladness!
    The Passover of God!
From death to life eternal,—
    From this world to the sky,
Our Christ has brought us over,
    With hymns of victory.

Our hearts be pure from evil,
    That we may see aright
The Lord in rays eternal
    Of Resurrection-Light:
And, listening to His accents,
    May hear, so calm and plain,
His own—All hail!—and, hearing,
    May raise the victor strain!

Now let the heavens be joyful!
    Let earth her song begin!
Let the round world keep triumph,
    And all that is therein:
Invisible and visible,
    Their notes let all things blend,—
For Christ the Lord has risen,—
    Our joy that hath no end.
    ... John of Damascus (8th century), tr. John Mason Neale, in Hymns of the Eastern Church, John Mason Neale, London: J. T. Hayes, 1870, p. 95 (see the book)

Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, we raise our hymn to Your triumph over death.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Sayers: Hard it is

Thursday, August 6, 2009

    Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him, and with him two others--one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
    —John 19:16-18 (NIV)

    Hard it is, very hard,
To travel up the slow and stony road
To Calvary, to redeem mankind; far better
To make but one resplendent miracle,
Lean through the cloud, lift the right hand of power
And with a sudden lightning smite the world perfect.
Yet this was not God’s way, Who had the power,
But set it by, choosing the cross, the thorn,
The sorrowful wounds. Something there is, perhaps,
That power destroys in passing, something supreme,
To whose great value in the eyes of God
That cross, that thorn, and those five wounds bear witness.
    ... Dorothy Leigh Sayers (1893-1957), The Devil to Pay, V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 68 (see the book)

Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, spread Your perfection to Your people.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Lathbury: Break Thou the bread of life

Wednesday, August 5, 2009
    Feast of Oswald, King of Northumbria, Martyr, 642

    Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
    “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.”
    Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”
    —John 6:32-35 (NIV)

Break Thou the bread of life,
    Dear Lord, to me,
As Thou didst break the loaves
    Beside the sea;
Within thy sacred page
    I seek Thee, Lord;
My spirit pants for Thee,
    O living Word!

Bless Thou the truth, dear Lord,
    To me—to me—
As Thou didst bless the bread
    By Galilee;
Then shall all bondage cease,
    All fetters fall;
And I shall find my peace,
    My All-in-All.
    ... Mary A. Lathbury (1841-1913), The Poems of Mary Artemisia Lathbury, Chautauqua Laureate, Minneapolis, Nunc Licet Press, 1915, p. 39 (see the book)

Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, You have freed and fed me.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Kingsley: The Great Physician

Tuesday, August 4, 2009
    Feast of John Vianney, Curè d’Ars, 1859

    When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
    —Matthew 14:14 (NIV)

From Thee all skill and science flow,
    All pity, care and love,
All calm and courage, faith and hope;
    O pour them from above.

And part them, Lord, to each and all,
    As each and all shall need,
To rise like incense, each to Thee,
    In noble thought and deed.

And hasten, Lord, that perfect day,
    When pain and death shall cease;
And Thy just rule shall fill the earth
    With health and light and peace.
    ... Charles Kingsley (1819-1875), Poems, London: Macmillan, 1907, p. 332 (see the book)

Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, Your people await the day when You set all things right.

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Monday, August 03, 2009

Porter: the nails

Monday, August 3, 2009

    When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.
    —Colossians 2:13,14 (NIV)

    They haled him trembling to the Judgment Seat.
“O Lord, the man who made the nails that pierced Thy hands and feet!”
The Master laid a thin, scarred hand upon the shame-bowed head.
“They were good nails,” he said.
    ... Kenneth W. Porter (1905-1981), The high plains, John Day, 1938, p. 84 (see the book)

Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, Your grace is flowing to Your people.

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

MacDonald: complete dependence upon God

Sunday, August 2, 2009

    Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.”
    —John 5:19,20 (NIV)

    You may fancy the Lord had His own power to fall back upon. But that would have been to Him just the one dreadful thing. That His Father should forget him!—no power in Himself could make up for that. He feared nothing for Himself; and never once employed His divine power to save Himself from His human fate. Let God do that for Him if He saw fit. He did not come into the world to take care of Himself... His life was of no value to Him but as His Father cared for it. God would mind all that was necessary for Him, and He would mind the work His Father had given Him to do. And, my friends, this is just the one secret of a blessed life, the one thing every man comes into this world to learn.
    ... George MacDonald (1824-1905), Annals of a Quiet Neighbourhood [1867], London: Strahan & Co., 1873, p. 207-208 (see the book)

Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, teach me Your will that I may carry it out every day of my life.

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