Friday, February 29, 2008

Lent: Day 21

Scripture: Luke 1:39-55

". . . My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior . . . He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy . . ."

Hymn: "I'll Praise My Maker While I've Breath" UMH 60
Isaac Watts, 1715; alt. John Wesley, 1737

". . . Happy are those whose hopes rely on Israel's God,
. . . Whose truth forever stands secure,
Who saves th'oppressed and feeds the poor,
For none shall find God's promise vain. . . ."


Strong God of eternal promises, I thank you for entering this world for our sakes. Just as Mary sang for joy at the wonderful news, let me rejoice at your continuing promise to always be near me.

O Lord, I know that such news is too good to keep to myself, but I confess that I excel at doing exactly that. When I forget or refuse to share the gospel, let that old, old story burn a hole in my heart until I let it pour out like water to a thirsty soul.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lent: Day 20

Scripture: Isaiah 42:1-9

". . . Thus says God, the LORD . . . I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a . . . light to the nations. . . . See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare . . ."

Hymn: "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" UMH 211
9th cent. Latin, various translators

"O come, Desire of nations; bind
All peoples in one heart and mind.
From dust thou brought us forth to life;
Deliver us from earthly strife.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.


Maker of my heart, you know how shallow and easily bored I am. I want to be entertained and cherished; it's far more difficult for me to bring joy and love to those close to me and to recognize your blessings. Yet they're all around me!

You promised to do a new thing, and you kept that promise. You brought my life out of the pit and made me your child! O holy God, give me eyes to see your mercy, and the wonder of a little child as I experience your world new in this adventure of following Jesus.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lent: Day 19

Scripture: Isaiah 35

"The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; . . . Say to those who are of a fearful heart, 'Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God.' . . . And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, . . . everlasting joy shall be upon their heads, . . . and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."

Hymn: "Heralds of Christ," UMH 507
Laura S. Copenhaver, 1915

"Heralds of Christ, who bear the King's commands,
Immortal tidings in your mortal hands,
Pass on and carry swift the news you bring;
Make straight, make straight the highway of the King.


O Jesus, my Way, I confess that grow weary of road-building sometimes! I can't see clearly enough the plan that you have; I merely see my often sloppy, half-hearted paving job. Can't you simply speak the word and build your own road?

No, I know that is not how you desire your peaceful way to come to the world. You have given your life to buy me back for God after I sold myself to sin. Now I mumble about your call to use my hands and feet and heart to serve you.

Forgive me, Lord Jesus. It is an honor to work on the building of your highway. Turn my heart around so that I desire only to serve you.

Lent: Day 18

Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-9

"A shoot shall come out of the stump of Jesse, and a branch grow out of his roots. The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, . . . His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. . . . "

Hymn: "O Day of Peace, That Dimly Shines," UMH 729
Carl P. Daw, Jr., 1982

". . . Then shall the wolf dwell with the lamb,
Nor shall the fierce devour the small;
As beasts and cattle calmly graze,
A little child shall lead them all.
Then enemies shall learn to love,
All creatures find their true accord;

The hope of peace shall be fulfilled,
For all the earth shall know the Lord."


O God of peace, I long for your rule in this world and in my heart. You promised so long ago to turn things right-side up and restore your ways, yet the hope glows only faintly in the distance sometimes.

St. Francis prayed, "Make me an instrument of your peace." That is my prayer as well, O God. Just as Jesus came to bring a peace that the world can't give, let me share his peaceful kingdom with the world.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Lent: Day 17

Scripture: Isaiah 9:2-7

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; . . . For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. . . ."

Hymn: "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus" UMH 196
Charles Wesley, 1744

". . . Born thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a king,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now they gracious kingdom bring. . . .


O God, what a plan you have revealed! The warring factions of the world, and the hardened hearts of your children, will be undone by the Child who was born in Bethlehem. We, who think babies are weak and powerless, have ourselves been saved by the Baby Jesus who came in such a humble way.

According to my own puny sense of time, Eternal God, this plan seems to have failed. We still make war, and our hearts are still hard. Yet you wait, and you work in and through our history, in order to bring about your will. When will I ever learn to trust that you are always on time? Past, present, and future all meet in the coming of Jesus.

Thank you for sending your own Word -- Jesus -- to be our Prince of Peace.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

What a sweet day!

It's been a good day. Other than a touch of digestive upset, which I'm hoping isn't the onset of a bug that's been going around, it was mostly delightful.

First of all, being at church, with loving, mature Christian people, is always a good thing. Sundays tend to be the best day of the week for me, the long hours and hard work notwithstanding.

Early service went well, the singers and players "syncing" better than usual, though the medley was more of a popular than a theologically super-solid offering. (I don't pretend we do great music, particularly at this service. The medley was "More Love, More Power" with "Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord.")

One troublesome thing was that my adult assistant for the youth handbell ensemble never showed. She also missed last week's rehearsal with no notice, and hasn't returned messages left for her. I am concerned.

But with some last-minute fill-ins, we managed to pull it together pretty well. The kids rang as well as they possibly could have, and it's only their second time ever to ring in public. I was very proud of them, and grateful to the substitutes.

So once the ringers had rehearsed and I'd warmed up the choir, so began the second service. The hymns were pretty good and the congregation sang them enthusiastically. The choir had, I thought, got the anthem's two troublesome rests ironed out in warm-up, when several people sang through them due to not watching. Blast if we didn't have an unintentional "soloist" and "small group" do the same thing during the actual presentation of the anthem, though! Still, the singing was remarkably good (other than the unobserved rests). It didn't hurt that it was a very good anthem, Lloyd Larson's "My Savior's Love." Overall, I was very pleased.

The sermon was even better than our pastor's usual excellent. It was easily the best sermon I've ever heard on John 4:5-42 (the Samaritan woman at the well), and I've heard quite a few (and preached that text once myself).

I had a meeting immediately after worship, with youth and their families. Was able to "plug" the youth handbell ensemble and I think I may get to welcome another player or two in the near future.

My voice student then had her final lesson prior to her college program/scholarship audition. She will be transferring in and I'm very proud of her. She's a very young singer and isn't totally a "natural," which means she's had to work hard to accomplish all that she has. Together we chose a fairly ambitious pair of audition pieces for her and she stepped up to the challenge. I wish I didn't have to wait until Saturday to hear how it goes!

Then followed our brief evening service and meal, then time for pre-school choir. Only two of our potential six little ones showed up, but those two were delightful and sang their precious hearts out. I can hardly wait until next Sunday,when they'll sing for the first time this calendar year. Then off to activities they went, and my school-age bunch arrived. I pinch myself every time I hear this group. When they're all there, there are ten of them. Tonight I had eight. Every one of them matches pitch extremely well. They could rival any premier children's choir I've ever heard for purity of tone and pitch accuracy. They will be singing in two weeks. They're preparing "Wade in the Water," and it sends chills up my spine how good they sound.

And it didn't hurt that, as we gathered for our prayer circle at the end of rehearsal, the adult leaders prompted them to sing "Happy Birthday" to me before we began sharing prayer requests. I don't know how I managed not to cry; maybe it was the their much-loved addition of "And many more on Channel 4 . . . (I always forget what follows for Channel 2 and Channel 9)" at the end. And as usual, prayer time with both choirs proved the best moments of the evening. Their tender little hearts trust God SO much, and they love to pray for others.

It was a good day to start my 50th year on, I think. God IS good!

Third Sunday of Lent

Scripture: Psalm 42

"As the deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. . . . By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. . . ."

Hymn: "Spirit Song" UMH 347
John Wimber, 1979

"O let the Son of God enfold you with his Spirit and his love.
Let him fill your heart and satisfy your soul.
. . . Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill your lambs.


This sacrifice, O Lord! When will it ever become a hunger for you, rather than a hunger for the petty things I choose to give up? I want to want you! Do you really honor the attempt as much as you would honor a complete victory? Will I ever know for certain?

Ah, Lord God, this day, I choose you. This hour, I choose you. In this very moment, I choose you. Fill me with your Spirit, I pray.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Lent: Day 16

Scripture: Job 19:25-27

"For I know that my Redeemer lives, . . . then in my flesh shall I see God."

Hymn: "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name," UMH 154 & 155
Edward Perronet, 1779,
alt. by John Rippon, 1787

". . . Ye chosen seed of Israel's race,
Ye ransomed from the fall,
Hail him who saves you by his grace,
And crown him Lord of all. . . .


Risen Lord Jesus, at mid-Lent I thank you for the reminder that you have already won the battle. Even as I practice the discipline of waiting, help me to remember that you are my Redeemer, the One who has saved me. You have already brought me back safe and sound to God.

O Christ of Resurrection as well as of the cross, help me live as one who has not only been crucified with you, but also raised with you. Give me grace to live fully, joyfully alive in you this day.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Lent: Day 15

Scripture: Romans 8:18-39

". . . If God is for us, who is against us? . . . in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. . . ."

Hymn: "Jesus Loves Me," UMH 191
Anna B. Warner, 1860

". . . Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so."


How long has it been, dear Jesus, since I simply allowed you to love me? When did I give up the trust of a little child and begin to try to earn your love, then to settle for living outside that love? What happened inside my heart?

Gentle Jesus, heal my grown-up pride. I want to regain the faith that you called the greatest: a simple conviction that God will always provide. Let the children I love remind me that I must believe and live as they do, if I wish to live in your Kingdom.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lent: Day 14

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13

"If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. . . . And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love."

Hymn: "The Gift of Love," UMH 408
Hal Hopson, 1972

". . . Come, Spirit, come, our hearts control,
Our spirits long to be made whole.
Let inward love guide every deed;
By this we worship, and are freed.


Rework my heart and my life, O Spirit of God's love, until those qualities true of love are true of me as well.

Make me patient and kind. Make me slow to envy or boast, take away my arrogance and rudeness. Teach me to give up my insistence on my own way, remove my irritability and resentments. Show me how to rejoice in the truth, rather than in wrongdoing. By your power, help me to bear, believe, hope, and endure all things.

And when this life is over, precious Holy Spirit, and I have long since given up my childish, unloving ways, reveal to me the fullness of never-ending love, face to face with God.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lent: Day 13

Scripture: Matthew 6

". . . Pray then this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. . . . Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life . . ."

Hymn: "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" UMH 133
Elisha A. Hoffman, 1887

". . . What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms. . . .


"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one." (Matthew 6:9b-13)

(Offer this modern translation of the Lord's Prayer slowly, reading deliberately, as if for the first time. Stop after each phrase and listen for what God may be saying to you through this "blueprint for prayer" that Jesus gave his disciples so long ago.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Lent: Day 12

Scripture: Matthew 5

". . . Then [Jesus] began to speak, and taught them, saying, 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. . . . You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. . . .' "

Hymn: "Rejoice Ye Pure in Heart," UMH 160
Edward H. Plumptre, 1865

"Rejoice, ye pure in heart;
Rejoice, give thanks, and sing;
Your glorious banner wave on high,
The cross of Christ your King. . . .


Jesus of hard teachings and harder living, I don't know what to make of your definition of "blessedness." I want so much to be blessed with things, while you call me to a lifestyle of self-denial.

Yet, Lord, I do want to see God, and that takes a pure heart. So take my heart, no matter how I try to keep it back, and remove whatever I cherish within it that keeps me from seeing the One who made it. Hold me as I grieve for the petty little idols I have settled for in the past, and show me the true God worthy of my best.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Little Housekeeping

There were several other blogs listed in my profile that I have either never contributed to, or haven't written for in a long time.

In the interest of accuracy, I've removed these other blogs from my profile, so that only my sole-owner blog, The Psaltery (this one) appears in the profile.

I have a great deal of respect for women in the emergent church movement. However, as a Christian who worships and serves within an established denomination (The United Methodist Church), and as someone who has never participated in emerging church activities, I'm not going to continue to unwittingly misrepresent myself to careless readers as "emergent." Some people apparently are willing to decide they know all kinds of things about my knowledge of the Holy Scriptures based on the titles of blogs listed in my profile. (Silly, yes, but it's happened.)

Yes, the religiously-popular "f-word" (feminist) is accurate enough about me. I'm one of those radical people who believes that feminism--that is, the inherent equality of men and women as fellow members of the human race--is an essential part of correctly understanding who we are as created beings in the family of God.

I'm not sure my latest accuser will ever actually bother to read what I write here. No matter. She already has her reward, as do those who join her in false accusations and character assassination about anyone who doesn't accept their false premise that this world's tradition of men ruling over women is godly. They say that patriarchy is an essential of the gospel. Some gospel, yes, I'm sure. But not the gospel of Jesus Christ, into whose image all Christians are called to be conformed. Biblical equality IS biblical. I call my critics to repentance in their attacks against me and my fellow egalitarians. If they ever decide to deal with the truth, they'll find in me a sister in the Lord. They're the ones who've sinfully decided that accepting a worldly practice--patriarchy--is the deciding factor in who's a member of the body of Christ.

1 Cor. 12:12-31

Lent: Day 11

Scripture: Acts 2

"When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. . . ."

Hymn: "I Love To Tell the Story," UMH 156
Katherine Hankey, ca. 1868

". . . I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
The message of salvation from God's own holy Word. . . ."


O Holy Spirit, the force of creation, the Breath of God, blow down on me from heaven so that I may tell the Good News with fresh power.

Open my mouth to speak, open my heart to give, open my eyes to new opportunities to share the gifts of God.

Spirit of God, most of all, open my ears to your clear voice of direction. Without you, I have nothing to say and nothing worth saying. With you, we who are the body of Christ have new life to share with a dying world. Use us, and use me, most Holy Spirit.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Second Sunday of Lent

Scripture: Psalm 84

"How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. . . ."

Hymn: "I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord," UMH 540
Timothy Dwight, 1801

"I love thy kingdom, Lord,
The house of thine abode,
The church our blest Redeemer saved
With his own precious blood. . . .


God of holiness, who delights in the praises of your children, accept my praise today. I love you! You are my Creator, and I want nothing more than to be in your presence.

You made us with a need to come together for worship, O Lord. You make our ordinary little human structures holy with your presence in our midst. We worship not to make you greater, for you are perfect beyond our understanding. No, we worship because we need to remember Who you are and Whose we are.

May your Spirit guide our worship, O God, and make our offerings of gifts and lives holy in your sight.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Lent: Day 10

Scripture: Matthew 28:16-20

". . . Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . . And remember, I am with you always . . ."

Hymn: "Here I Am, Lord," UMH 593
Dan Schutte, 1981

"I, the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin my hand will save.
I, who made the stars of night, I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?
Here I am, Lord . . .


Jesus, Teacher of all disciples, make me a disciple-maker for you. Teach me first, make me your faithful disciple by your Holy Spirit's power, then send me out to catch people for you.

Here I am, Lord. Send me.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Lent: Day 9

Scripture: John 15:1-17

". . . This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you."

Hymn: "Draw Us in the Spirit's Tether" UMH 632
Percy Dearmer, 1931

". . . All our meals and all our living make as sacraments of thee,
That by caring, helping, giving, we may true disciples be.
Alleluia! Alleluia! We will serve thee faithfully."


Dear Lord Jesus, it seems to me that all your teachings can be summed up in one active, urgent word: "Love!"

Teach me to love as you loved, O Lord. You gave it all. You set your glory aside and washed our feet. You healed and taught until you were exhausted. You shared a table with the dregs of society, and hung between two common thieves, after forgiving your executioners. You loved!

If they truly will know we're Christians by our love, dear Jesus, then I wonder if anyone can tell for sure about me. Enroll me in your remedial "Love 101" course and put me through your paces. I want to love those whom you love. And Lord Jesus, I want to love you.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Lent: Day 8

Scripture: Micah 6:6-8

"With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? . . . He has told you, O mortal, what is good . . ."

Hymn: "Lord, Whose Love in Humble Service," UMH 581
Albert F. Bayly, 1961 (alt.)

"Lord, whose love through humble service bore the weight of human need,
Who upon the cross, forsaken, offered mercy's perfect deed:
We, your servants, bring the worship not of voice alone, but heart,
Consecrating to your purpose every gift that you impart. . . .


Jesus of justice, you served the world as God's law: a costly mercy and a lavish forgiveness. You gave yourself to free the prisoner.

Kind Jesus, you served the world as God's compassion: lifting up the weak and healing the sick. You gave yourself to make the broken whole.

Humble Jesus, you served the world as God's humiliation: a sinless life exchanged for undeserving sinners. You gave yourself to raise us back up to God.

Give us grace to follow you as you show us how to live lives of justice, kindness, and humility. Lord Jesus, I want to live your way.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lent: Day 7

Scripture: Mark 12:28 - 34

". . . The second [commandment] is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no greater commandment than these."

Hymn: "Lord God, Your Love Has Called Us Here," UMH 579
Brian Wren, 1973

"Lord God, your love has called us here,
As we, by love, for love were made,
Your living likeness still we bear,
Though marred, dishonored, disobeyed;
We come, with all our heart and mind,
Your call to hear, your love to find. . . ."


Lord Jesus, your love amazes me. In loving neighbor as yourself, you bore our sins to the cross, and put them to death as you died. You, God-with-us, called me your neighbor! How then can I presume to love myself and despise my neighbor?

This commandment, Lord, cannot be kept with words. Though I may sai I love God, I have lied if I do not then love my neighbor sacrificially. I cannot love my neighbor with cheap words. You paid a high price to love me.

Bless me, dear Jesus, with your Spirit's gifts when I spend myself in love for my fellow human beings. When I do not do that, Lord, bless me with a heart full of sorrow for loving neither God nor neighbor.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Singing Owl: In God's Bakery

I don't think I've ever gone public here about how much I love and admire my long-time internet friend, Singing Owl. It's surely high time to remedy that!

She's going through some big, tough stuff right now. Be sure to read her posts from January 30 and February 2 and you'll see what I mean.

Now read this. I'm blown away. Praise God for my dear, faithful friend! S.O., you're a true blessing to me. I'm praying for you, as always, but especially right now.

Lent: Day 6

Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:1-9

". . . Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. . . ."

Hymn: "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing," UMH 400
Robert Robinson, 1756

". . . Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.


Holy God of the Covenant, you created me to give you glory. I belong to you. My heart, my soul, and my strength are all to be reserved for you.

Yet you know, and I know, that I give my heart away to other things. Sometimes, God, I wonder if even you can find my poor, dry, shriveled soul. I waste my energies on things that just don't matter, and I come to you empty-handed.

Forgive me, O Lord. As you commanded your people so long ago, help me to inscribe these words on my heart and to keep them close to me and those I love. Let me never again forget that I belong first, foremost, and always, all of me, to you alone.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lent: Day 5

Scripture: Exodus 20:1-17

"Then God spoke all these words: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery: you shall have no other gods before me."

Hymn: "The God of Abraham Praise," UMH 116
From the Yigdal, Daniel ben Judah, ca. 1400; paraph. Thomas Olivers, ca. 1765

"The God of Abraham praise, who reigns enthroned above; Ancient of Everlasting Days, and God of love; Jehovah, great I AM! by earth and heaven confessed I bow and bless the sacred name forever blest."


God of deliverance and Law, I worship you today. You have given us your chosen way of life, promising to be faithful to your children. Keeping your Law is both a mark of our faithfulness to you and a blessing in our life together as human beings. Yet too often, O Lord, I forget the first and most important commandment: to allow you and you alone to rule me. So many things crowd you out, mostly fruits of my love of myself. Make me remember these sins, most holy God. Let me know them and count them and weep over them, so that in the future, in my weakest times, I will think twice and choose you instead. I want to obey you, my God. Help me choose obedience today.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

First Sunday of Lent

Scripture: Psalm 23

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. . . . Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me . . . Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life . . ."

Hymn: "The Lord's My Shepherd, I'll Not Want," UMH 136
Scottish Psalter, 1650
"Goodness and mercy all my life shall surely follow me; And in God's house forevermore my dwelling place shall be."


O Lord of the rod and the shepherd's staff, thank you for your love and care for this wayward sheep of your flock. How often you have searched for me, how often you have rescued me from disaster! Yet I continue to wander off again and again. How my waywardness must grieve you! Teach me, O Shepherd of my soul, to trust your boundaries and loving guidance. Call me again and again until I learn to listen for your voice alone. For I know, dear Jesus, that only in your care can I truly live.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Lent: Day 4

Scripture: John 1:1-18

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things came into being through him . . . And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory . . . full of grace and truth"

Hymn: "Word of God Come Down on Earth," UMH 182
James Quinn, 1969

". . . Word eternal, throned on high, Word that brought to life creation,
Word that came from heaven to die, crucified for our salvation,
Saving Word, the world restoring, heal the world by our sin broken."


Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God who lived our life and died our death and rose again so that we might all live, speak to me. Let my silence now be filled with your voice, speaking God's truth to my heart. I listen and long for you.

Friday, February 08, 2008

A Book Meme!

Thanks to Singing Owl, I'm finally going to play the book meme! It goes like this:

Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. (No cheating!)

It's the venerable 1932 Methodist Hymnal, which (incidentally) was much-loved and in use when I was born.

Find Page 123.

Find the first 5 sentences.

Post the next 3 sentences.

Go ye forth with joy to meet Him! And, my soul, be swift to bring
All thy sweetest and thy dearest For the triumph of our King!

This was from hymn #123, "There's a Light upon the Mountains," text by Henry Burton, 1840-1939. Tune:, MT HOLYOKE, by Maurice L. Wosterholm, b. 1887.

Tag 5 people.

So many people have already been tagged! So at this point, I'm reading back to Jan. 1 in prospective tagees' blogs. If you haven't blogged this meme since then, I'm considering you fair game!

St. Inuksuk
Crimson Rambler

Lent: Day 3

Scripture: Psalm 139

"O Lord, you have searched me and known me . . . you hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. . . . Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? . . . I come to the end--I am still with you."

Hymn: "I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light," UMH 206
Kathleen Thomerson, 1966

". . . God set the stars to give light to the world.
The star of my life is Jesus.
In him there is no darkness at all.
The night and the day are both alike.
. . . Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus."


Seeking and finding God, how foolish it is for me to try to hide from you! Yet I do, so often! O God, help me to stay close to you, so that I have no need to hide my face and my deeds from you.\

With the psalmist, I am in awe of your perfect design and my unique place in your world. You wasted nothing and made no mistakes, dear God. Remind me never to waste myself on things that have no value to you or to those I love. Teach me to treasure your constant presence with me; help me to look to you as my Friend and Companion.

Walk with me today and always, dear Lord.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Lent: Day 2

Scripture: Genesis 1:1 - 2:4a

"In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void . . . while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. And God said, 'Let there be . . .' . . . God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good . . ."

Hymn: "I Sing the Almighty Power of God," UMH 152
Isaac Watts, 1715

"I sing the goodness of the Lord, who filled the earth with food,
Who formed the creatures thru the Word, and then pronounced them good."


Holy, eternal Creator of all that is, I am in awe of your power and love. I can understand such a tiny fraction of your design for the universe, yet what I see reveals your majesty and glory.

You are God, O Lord! I am nothing compared with you, but you don't compare. You create, you sustain, and you love with abandon what your hands have made. You choose to have a relationship with me.

O God, help me to choose you, too. I love you.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Lent: Day 1 (Ash Wednesday)

Scripture: Psalm 51

"Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. . . . a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." (NRSV)

Hymn: "Be Thou My Vision," UMH 451
Ancient Irish hymn, translated by Mary E. Byrne, versed by Eleanor H. Hull, 1912

"Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart . . .
Thou my best thought, by day or by night . . .
. . . Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all."


O God of new beginnings and second chances, accept this broken heart of mine. You made it, you know it through and through, and it belongs to you. Mend my broken places and make me clean again. Accept my tiny sacrifices as I learn to make the only one you truly desire: my life in all its fullness.

Walk this journey of Lent with me, O Savior, leading me where you walked so long ago. Guide me by your Holy Spirit as I seek your narrow way.

A Devotional Series for Lent

Seven years ago, I was preparing to leave ministry as a United Methodist local pastor of two churches I had come to love more than I'd ever dreamed possible. While I have continued to work in the church as a musician most of the time since June 2001, I have not returned to pastoral ministry; it's been as though a large part of my heart and soul have gone dormant and cold.

Part of preparing to leave involved a Lenten project that I called "What Wondrous Love Is This, O My Soul? Readings and Prayers for Lent 2001." I re-read that little book over the weekend and was blessed again by it. In the hope that it will meet someone else's need in some small way, I will be posting each day's page here. Here is my preface to that project:

Dear friends,

This is the fourth and final Lent that I will be sharing with you. In order to prepare this little devotional book, I first compiled a list of some of my favorite Scripture passages and hymns.

I can't begin to explain what a blessing this exercise has been! (Try it sometime. Sit down with a good concordance and think of all the words and phrases from the Bible that have meant a lot to you, then thumb through a hymnal to find your favorites. List these selections, and see what they say about your faith.) I learned that the books of Psalms and Isaiah and the Gospel of John hold some of my most treasured passages, and that my favorite hymns are the ones addressed to God, rather than ones about God.

My favorite part of this, however, has been the time I've spent in prayer over each pairing of Scripture and hymn. The results are given for each day's readings; I hope that you, and any others you may share your home with, will use these little prayers in your daily devotions. (Notice that there are no "amens" on the prayers. They are meant to be open-ended for you to finish.)

. . . .

My heart is very full right now. Amid the sorrow of preparing to leave, however, is the joy of having shared so much of life together with you. Please accept this book as a gift of gratitude to you for being a part of the body of Christ, the church family, with me. And most of all, may God grant you every rich blessing as you observe this holy season of Lent. Let us all follow the Lord Jesus on his journey to Jerusalem, the cross, and the Resurrection.

Please note, friends: I am NOT going anywhere now. This is from 2001. Please don't worry!


Friday, February 01, 2008

I want some dumb fluff: Which Wife of Henry VIII Are You?

Which of Henry VIII's wives are you?

this quiz was made by Lori Fury

Congratulations! You are Katherine Parr.

Katherine Parr spent nearly her whole life married to crotchety old men: Henry was the THIRD old fart she was forced to marry. Is it any wonder she turned to books and religion to occupy her time?

Katherine wasn't just smart, she was a tiny bit uppity, too: she almost got herself thrown in jail for arguing with His Royal Fatness about some theological issues. After Henry croaked, Katherine dropped the prim and proper act and married Thomas Seymour, a handsome, dashing pirate kind of guy who was also as dumb as a post.

Which goes to show you that even bookworms know how to get it on.

Taking a comment break from Complegalitarian

I've decided to take a break from commenting at Complegalitarian. I've been targeted as being to blame for a number of things that aren't perfect there, most of which I think are ridiculous. Most of all, I've been blamed for "forcing" someone else to stop commenting. I'm tired of the controversy and I'm angry at being used that way.

I own that decision. No one's making me do anything I don't choose to do. I'm not making anyone else do anything they don't choose to do. I think Complegalitarian is too important an effort for understanding, for any one person to be the focus of controversy, whether deliberately or by someone else's efforts. I didn't make up the unreasonable rules, I don't agree to them, and I don't have to play by them. I'm not going to engage anyone anywhere else about the issue, most certainly not by e-mail. I don't get into comment exchanges with people I don't believe I'd be wise to trust, on venues they control. Been there, done that, have the bloody t-shirts to prove it. It's one of the rules I set up for myself and it's been serving me well since I finally learned my lesson.

For the record: I'm responsible for my own statements. I'm not responsible for others' statements, nor are they responsible for mine. There is no "collective" who should be expected to restrict me or anyone else. I stand by having stated the truth on Complegalitarian. I'm not going to let myself nor other egalitarians be burned further by my continuing to comment there for the present time.

I am responsible for dealing wisely with my anger. I am angry right now. I'd be just as angry, probably more so, if this were happening to anyone else (and it has been happening to someone else as well). Taking a break is my first step to controlling my anger over this sidelining of constructive interaction on a blog I've come to love (Complegalitarian).

I'm posting this here just so anyone who might wish to know why I'm not commenting, can get a little of the information without my distracting Complegalitarian conversation any further. Complegalitarian shouldn't be about me, any other individual, or any real or perceived "side." It should be about growing in understanding of one another so that we can grow into fuller unity in Jesus Christ. To that end, I'm praying for the participants there and for myself.