Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Eternal Gates Are Lifted Up

"Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens."  (Hebrews 7:25-26)

This Ascension text is by Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-95)

1.  The eternal gates are lifted up,
     The doors are open wide;
     The King of glory is gone in
     Unto His Father's side.

2.  Thou art gone up before us, Lord,
     To make for us a place,
     That we may be where now Thou art,
     And look upon God's face.

3.  And ever on our earthly path
     A gleam of glory lies;
     A light still breaks behind the cloud
     That veiled Thee from our eyes.

4.  Lift up our hearts, lift up our minds,
     And let Thy grace be given,
     That while we live on earth below,
     Our treasure be in heaven.

5.  That where Thou art, at God's right hand,
     Our hope, our love may be.
     Dwell Thou in us, that we may dwell
     Forevermore in Thee.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Whom God Has Summoned By His Word

Timothy Dudley-Smith wrote this text in August of 2005 at Ford in Great Britain.

     Whom God has summoned by His word
        shall they, like Johah, flee,
     far from the presence of the Lord
        across the waste of sea?

     The waves and billows work His will
        the storms His word obey;
     so God provides a refuge still,
        and spurs the heart to pray.

     When from the depths the people cry
         their pleas are not in vain;
     His grace and mercy make reply
         to grant them life again.

     From grief and loss to joy restored,
        from death to life above!
     How slow to anger is the Lord,
        how strong His steadfast love!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Saints, See the Cloud of Witnesses

Justin Martyr was an apologist, a defender of the faith, in the early Church.  June 1st on the Church calendar commemorates Justin Martyr as we remember his life and witness.  When Justin was arrested for his faith in Rome, the prefect asked him to denounce his faith by making a sacrifice to the gods. Justin replied, "No one who is rightly minded turns from true belief to false."  He was taken out and beheaded.  Since he gave his life for the "true philosophy," Justin has been surnamed Martyr.

"Justin's conversion to Christianity is thought to have happened at the city of Ephesus, around A.D. 130, when our inquisitive young Samaritan was roughly thirty years of age. And though he was undoubtedly given a warm reception into the Christian congregation there in Asia—that venerable church founded by  John, written to by Ignatius from the house of Polycarp—Justin, to tell the truth, may have raised a few eyebrows by his conduct as a new believer. For the fact is that he continued to frequent his old haunts. He kept all his old friendships and ran with the same unregenerate crowd he had associated with as a heathen. In short, Justin of Neapolis became known, much like his Lord before him, as "the friend of publicans and sinners"—only in Justin's case, the publicans and sinners were not prostitutes or winebibbers, but mystic Pythagorean mathematicians and long-faced logicians studiously following Xenophon and Parmenides. In other words, Justin became an apologist—a defender of the faith, a philosophical evangelist—and from the day of his redemption he seems to have been possessed by one burning desire: to see his own people, his brother philosophers, come to the knowledge of the truth."  Rod Bennett | From "Justin Martyr", in Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words | Ignatius Insight 

1.  Saints, see the cloud of witnesses surround us;
     Their lives of faith encourage and astound us.
          Hear how the Master praised their faith so fervent:
          “Well done, My servant!”

 2.   These saints of old received God’s commendation;
       They lived as pilgrim-heirs of His salvation.
            Through faith they conquered flame and sword and gallows,
            God’s name to hallow.

  3.   They call to us, “Your timid footsteps lengthen;
        Throw off sin’s weight, your halting weakness strengthen.
             We kept the faith, we shed our blood, were martyred;
             Our lives we bartered.”

  4.   Come, let us fix our sight on Christ who suffered,
        He faced the cross, His sinless life He offered;
             He scorned the shame, He died, our death enduring,
             Our hope securing.
  5.   Lord, give us faith to walk where You are sending,
        On paths unmarked, eyes blind as to their ending;
             Not knowing where we go, but that You lead us—
             With grace precede us.

  6.  You, Jesus, You alone deserve all glory!
       Our lives unfold, embraced within Your story;
            Past, present, future—You, the same forever—
            You fail us never!

Almighty and everlasting God, You found Your martyr Justin wandering from teacher to teacher, seeking the true God, and You revealed to him the sublime wisdom of Your eternal Word: Grant that all who seek You, or a deeper knowledge of You, may find and be found by You; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

My Soul Rejoices (Magnificat)

1.  My soul rejoices,
     My spirit voices—
          Sing the greatness of the Lord!
               For God my Savior
               Has shown me favor—
          Sing the greatness of the Lord!
     With praise and blessing,
     Join in confessing
          God, who is solely
          Mighty and holy—
               Oh, sing the greatness of God the Lord!
     His mercy surely
     Shall rest securely
          On all who fear Him,
          Love and revere Him—
               Oh, sing the greatness of God the Lord!

  2.  His arm now baring,
       His strength declaring—
            Sing the greatness of the Lord!
                 The proud He scatters,
                 Their rule He shatters—
            Sing the greatness of the Lord!
       Oppression halted;
       The meek exalted.
            Full are the hungry;
            Empty, the wealthy—
                 Oh, sing the greatness of God the Lord!
       Here is the token
       All that was spoken
            To Abr’am’s offspring
            God is fulfilling—
                 Oh, sing the greatness of God the Lord!