Just got back from church this morning, and one of the songs really spoke to me.
Now, those amongst you who grew up in the painfully religious churches of this land will probably be familiar with this particular monotonous dirge. However, if you can manage to shake off the memory of boredom from overlong services, and songs sung with a lack of passion that adequately mirrored the congregation’s engagement with God, the words of this song are pretty beautiful.
Take two minutes – actually read it:
Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways;
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.
In simple trust like theirs who heard,
Beside the Syrian sea,
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word,
Rise up and follow Thee.
O Sabbath rest by Galilee,
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity,
Interpreted by love!
With that deep hush subduing all
Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call,
As noiseless let Thy blessing fall
As fell Thy manna down.
Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.
Interestingly, it’s from a poem by JG Whittier, called “The Brewing of Soma“, where he talks about a load of druids getting wasted on hallucinogenic concoctions, and then realising that the only way to God is to live lives of peace, love and praise. One verse in the poem is thought to talk about the way Christianity sometimes concentrates too much on the other stuff rather than lifestyle and God:
As in that child-world’s early year,
Each after age has striven
By music, incense, vigils drear,
And trance, to bring the skies more near,
Or lift men up to heaven!
Whilst its a good point, I think there is a place for music, (expecially “trance“, or maybe drum ‘n bass…?), butit is important that quietness shouldn’t be forgotten.
Day Thirteen – Unlucky For Some Teeth
The following post is from a series of emails I wrote to my girlfriend at the time, whilst on a trip to Africa. She is now my wife, so I did something right.
Had a dream where all my teeth fell out! I was talking to you, and about 10 fell out. You were talking to me, and one of yours fell out too. I woke up with such a start, and felt my teeth, such a relief when they were really solid, and stuck in my gums lol.
Today was mostly spent doing the website – you can check current progress at www.tshwaranang.org. I also finished off DIY, leaving just one song to do.
My day was spoiled slightly by you dumping me, but I recovered hehe.
In the evening I went to a cell group, on a farm. Mohau’s car ran out of gas right at the end of a long, long dirt road. It was pretty funny, but also not good.
One of the chaps at the meeting who was telling us that they had a vision, that God wants them to get together every Friday, to be together, and to worship him. They were talking about the practicalities of converting a barn, and buying benches, and chairs, and I was just thinking – why are you planning so much, where is your faith? Just get together, and start now! Don’t talk about getting ready – God has told you to get together every Friday, so start this Friday. And if you need stuff, work it out as you go along! If you need chairs, bring them next week, maybe a kettle the next week, after that maybe start doing food between you, but be guided by your prayer during those weekly get togethers. Don’t try to guess where God is going to lead you!
Unlike some people I know, who are much more polite than me, and don’t say the things they want to, to people, I said all this. Their reaction was infuriating, they agreed, and were like “Yes, that does sound interesting…” then just went back to planning. I had just read “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1Ti 4:12), which seemed very relevant, since it seemed they weren’t respecting my wisdom. Sounds petty, but I’m not meaning it like that.
I actually felt very inspired tonight; when another member of the group was talking about a youth camp they felt they had to run, based on the armour of God verses.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”
His feeling is to run it pseudo military camp style, with exercises, and the kids called them captain, and sir, and the kids being called privates, etc. I felt very Spirit led here, that the camp should be leading to a culmination where the kids are told “So now we have explained how to be a soldier. You know that you have to choose to put on this armour! If your Dad is a soldier, if you have grown up as a soldier’s son, does that make you a soldier too? No! You have to join the army to be a soldier. In the same way, it doesn’t matter if your parent’s are Christians or not. It doesn’t matter how you were raised, it matters if YOU decide to serve God! You have a choice! Do you want to sign up to join the army of God?!”
And then the kids have to physically sign the list. A military altar call, if you will, but I think it will be very powerful.
And I think everyone felt the power of what I’d said, and it was cool, people who hadn’t spoken previously chimed in to agree with me. Yet I still felt the gravity of what God was saying wasn’t coming across. When he asked how he should prepare, I was adamant that he should obey those verse, live it, put on the armour fully and intently; and the guys just sort of agreed, then were like, “…anyway”.
So that was annoying, but it was nice to hear from God.