Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Let Me Bear My Cross with Patience

O Lord, God of my salvation, when, at night, I cry out in your presence, let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry.
Ps 88:1-2
Psalm 88 is a prayer of complaint, and the complaint is so sustained that even Calvin states that there's a danger in this prayer of committing the sin of murmuring against God. But "by applying to God the appellation of the God of his salvation, casting, as it were, a bridle upon himself, he restrains the excess of his sorrow, shuts the door against despair, and strengthens and prepares himself for the endurance of the cross."

Monday, September 24, 2018

A Census Was Taken

On the holy mount stands the city he founded;
the Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God. 

Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon; Philistia too, and Tyre, with Ethiopia—“This one was born there,” they say.
And of Zion it shall be said, “This one and that one were born in it”; for the Most High himself will establish it.
The Lord records, as he registers the peoples, “This one was born there.” 

Singers and dancers alike say, “All my springs are in you.”
Ps 87

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Salem's Lot

UCC Series III

This is the audio of my sermon on the Puritans. It concentrates on the Massachusetts Bay Colony. I'll post the manuscript separately after I clean up the footnotes.

Of What Handmaid?

Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your Servant; save the Son of your handmaid.
Ps 86:16
I'm a pretty committed Protestant, and so even a hint of the adoration of Mary is something I tend to avoid. But Christians have traditionally interpreted this section of Psalm 86 as a messianic prayer for deliverance from death, and that God's answer to the prayer was resurrection. I don't expect non-Christians to buy into this interpretation, but it is where I personally can enter into the psalm. If the Servant praying this prayer is the Anointed of God, then the handmaid spoken of as his mother must of necessity be Mary.

I'm going to try my hand here at paraphrasing Augustine's discussion of what this means:

Saturday, September 22, 2018

First French Republic

On this day in 1792, France became a republic.

🎼 This song is called the Song of Departure, and its stanzas are sung (in order) by a deputy of the people, a mother, a boy, a young woman, and 3 soldiers. A rough translation of its refrain (sung by all) is: The republic calls us: May we know either how to conquer or die. A Frenchman should die for her (the republic) or a Frenchman should live for her.

Knit My Heart

Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your Name.
Ps 86:11

I have always loved this verse of Psalm 86. My heart is distracted by so many things, sort of like Martha in the kitchen. It is a prayer for a heart whose attention is no longer divided among getting the bulletin copied, writing a sermon, paying the bills, caring for a house, keeping the car running, pleasing this or that person, and honoring God. "Give me an undivided heart to revere your Name," I pray.

And that's an excellent prayer to pray all day any day. But apparently it's not quite the prayer I think it is—at least not the prayer prayed in Psalm 86:11.  The Geneva Bible comes closer to the true translation (but still not close enough) with

Friday, September 21, 2018

All the Time

Much of Psalm 86 is a prayer prayed in extremis—the sort of biblical prayer that is prayed so often as to be a bit discouraging, a reminder of all the pain in the world, all the things to be afraid of. But in the middle of it is an affirmation that can be prayed in the context of the psalm, but can also be lifted out of it and remembered in good times and bad,