Monday, June 28, 2010

Morning and Evening Hymns

Have you ever used a hymnbook for your devotion time? This morning I was up a bit earlier than usual (4:30 a.m.), so I pulled the 1964 The Methodist Hymnal off my book shelf. This was published before the feminists got a hold of the English language, the revision beginning in 1960, and while the thees and thous still made it easy to rhyme. It is both ecumenical and Wesleyan.

So I turned to the section "Morning and Evening." To my surprise, there weren't very many morning hymns. And also evening is often presented in somewhat sinister themes. But think about it. In the days before electricity, or even in 3rd world countries today, after the sun went down there was no light. Only the wealthy could have afforded candles and kerosene, or whale oil, or whatever was being used for light. Darkness was not your friend--especially because theives and animals could attack. The other night we had a storm here (Lakeside) and the power went out around midnight for 2.5 hours. It's amazing how black it is--our very tall trees even blot out the sky, which of course was cloud covered.

But I did see a nice Chinese translated hymn, "Rise to greet the sun," by Chao Tzu-Ch'en, translated by Bliss Wiant to the melody of a Chinese folk melody.

Rise to greet the sun,
Reddening in the sky,
Warriorlike and strong,
Comely as a groom;
Birds pass high in flight,
Fragrant flowers now bloom;
With the gracious light
I my toil resume.

Father, I implore,
Safely keep this hild'
Make my conduct good,
Actions calm and mild;
Venerating age,
Humbly teaching youth,
Always serving thee,
Sharing they rich truth.

May this day be blest;
Trusting Jesus' love,
My heart's freed from ill,
Fair blue sky's above.
Glad for cotton coat,
Plain food satisfies;
All my countless needs
Thy kind hand supplies. Amen

Interesting cultural points. It is the groom who is comely, not the bride. Age is venerated. The coat is cotton and the food plain. Christianity is not a Western religion; it is world wide and user friendly for all cultures. It is growing very fast in China and Africa. Much more vibrant than in the U.S., and certainly stronger than in Europe.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Hold your friends close, and your wallet even closer

Summary: Older people who have a close companion friend in the place where they worship are more likely to rate their health in a favorable way over time. However, these health-related benefits emerge only among the oldest-old study participants. The data results further indicate that having a close friend at church is associated with fewer outpatient physician visits over time, but once again, the results are observed only among the oldest old. "Close Companions at Church, Health,and Health Care Use in Late Life," by Neal Krause. Journal of Aging and Health 22(4) 434–453, 2010.

Here's my take. If you have friends at church they nag you about your health and offer to take you to the doctor. But the idea that government and insurance costs can be reduced or kept in check by the oldest having close church friends really doesn't make sense. If you live to 90 instead of 85, don't you have more health related expenses than if you'd died at 85?

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Short series on the Apostles' Creed

Our latest sermon series has been on the Apostles' Creed, which first appeared around the year 200, and is the essence of and distills the teachings of the New Testament.

The scripture (first reading) today was Colossians 1:15-23. Wow. What a powerful text. I looked at it in several versions when I got home, but still like the NIV the best. If every church committee, board and service group were to read this at every gathering and meeting, I do believe there would be less squabbling about acquiescing to the demands of various movements and contemporary culture. . . "so that in everything he might have the supremacy"

Colossians 1:15-29 (New International Version)

The Supremacy of Christ

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[a] your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Paul's Labor for the Church

24 Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. 29 To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.