Thursday, June 23, 2005

A Song of Hannah

Hannah's Song of Miracle Prayer
1 Samuel 2:1ff

My soul exults in the Lord;
my strength is exalted in my God.

My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.

There is no Holy One like you, O Lord,
nor any Rock like you, our God.

For you are a God of knowledge
and by you our actions are weighed.

The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble gird on strength.

Those who were full now hire themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry are well fed.

The barren woman has borne sevenfold,
but she who has many children is forlorn.

Both the poor and the rich are of your making;
you bring low and you also exalt.

You raise up the poor from the dust,
and lift the needy from the ash heap.

You make them sit with the rulers
and inherit a place of honour.

For the pillars of the earth are yours
and on them you have set the world.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Kierkegaard: At the Lord's table

Haggai 2:29 Yet from this day I will bless you.

Psalm 23:5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Lamentations 3:22 It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness! "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!"

Hebrews 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; while it is said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."

At the Lord’s Table

Father in Heaven, Thy grace and mercy change not with the changing times, they turn not with the course of years, as if, like a human, Thou wert more gracious one day than another, more gracious at first than at the last.

No! Thy grace remains unchanged, as Thou art unchangeable, it is ever the same, eternally young, new every day – for every day Thou sayest, ‘Yet today!’

Oh, but when one gives heed to this word, is impressed by it, and with a serious, holy resolution says, “Yes, yet today!” then for that one person it means that this very day, s/he desires to be changed, desires that this day will be above all other days a new confirmation in the good s/he once chose…

It is an expression of Thy grace and mercy that every day Thou dost say, “Yet today.” But it would be to forfeit Thy grace and mercy and the season of grace if a person were to say indiscriminately from day to day, “Yet today.” For it is Thou who bestoweth the season of grace “Yet today,” but it is we humans who must grasp the season of grace “Yet today.”

Thus we talk with Thee, O God – between us there is a difference of language and yet we strive to understand Thee…and Thou dost not blush to be called our God!

That word, when Thou, O God, dost utter it is the eternal expression of Thy unchangeable grace, that same word when we repeat it becomes the strongest expression of deepest change and decision – yea, as if all were lost if this change and decision did not come to pass “Yet today.”

So grant to us today who worship Thee, that to us, without external prompting, and hence the more inwardly, will resolve “Yet today” to seek reconciliation with Thee by confession of our sins; so grant that this day will be truly blessed to us, that we may truly hear the voice of Him whom Thou didst send into the world, the voice of the Good Shepherd, that we may hear His voice, that He may know us, and that we may follow Him!

This day!



Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Native-American teens at suicide risk

Among youth ages 5 through 14, the Native American suicide rate is 2.6 times the national average. And, moving into later teen years and adulthood, the disparity is even greater.

According to Congressional testimony today, 17 teens have killed themselves in recent months in Cheyenne River. These suicides are typical of the pattern developing among American Indians. Many of them take the form of suicide pacts, where one by one, youth take their lives when their name comes such general depression as to join such a pact in the first place.

Julie Garreau, executive director of the Cheyenne River Youth Project in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, comments:
Some of these suicides were young men who had made a suicide pact with one another. They drew numbers, and decided to hang themselves in that order. One by one their families found these boys, often hanging in their homes, as their number came up.

These deaths are part of an overall trend -- a trend given brief headline attention when 16-year-old Jeff Weise, a Chippewa Indian living on the Red Lake reservation in Minnesota, killed 10 people at school, including himself.

Garreau referenced this in her testimony to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.
We are heartbroken that it may have taken an incident like the school shootings at the Red Lake Reservation in Minnesota to bring national attention to the crisis our children are facing in Indian Country, but are so relieved that someone is finally hearing our voices
This is an issue that needs powerful intervention, spiritual care.

There is a lot going on here, behind this depression. There are deep issues of honor/shame culture among people with historical residuals of great sin and brokenness, facing current poverty, deprivation and hopelessness.

In other words: great need of confession, healing and restoration...

[Note: After comments by Walking Star, I realize that I need to make clear here: By 'confession, healing and restoration' I mean 'Confession to the Native American peoples' for the sake of healing and restoration. See: comments. Ok? Thank you! Loy]

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Afleet Alex: proud warrior

I know this is a random post, but I've never seen a horse to match the heart of Afleet Alex.

I literally had my breath taken away yesterday...waiting between a wedding and the slow start of its Hyatt reception, I had time to watch the running of the Belmont Stakes. And wow, I don't really have the words to describe this horse! I am still in amazement...

Afleet Alex already had a miracle Preakness, where he was clipped by another horse, fell to his all rights should have fallen and been destroyed...but he kept his feet in some miracle of destiny...and won by 4 3/4 lengths. Watch the tape of that and tell me how he did it? Simply unbelievable.

So, deep inside I was pulling for Afleet Alex in the Belmont. His warrior heart in the Preakness had won my heart, and when he went to the gate in 9th position for the Belmont, my pulse quickened: Could he do it? Only three in a hundred years had won from that start...

Then they were off, and running! And I got a really sick feeling, for it seemed that Afleet Alex was running so poorly. He fell further and further behind in the pack, running far behind with only the far turn and homestretch left...and when I saw there were too many horses for him to make the rail, I felt the race was lost. My heart sunk...

But suddenly, before the far turn, Afleet Alex surged. And there...before my eyes...a miracle run. Incredible. Simply amazing. Afleet Alex ran the fastest, most brilliant closing quarter mile that I've ever seen.

If you didn't see it, believe this: Afleet Alex went from 7th place, back in the pack, with only far turn and homestretch left...and won by 7 lengths, going away.

He couldn't get by on the rail, but didn't need it. He swung to the middle outside on the far turn, passed leading Giacomo like he was standing still, and sprinted to the finish like a proud warrior without peer.

I couldn't believe my eyes. I felt I had witnessed a miracle run -- something so special: a horse made for a moment in time, soaring up to meet destiny...a warrior, noble creature, a king! Really, words can't describe that run.

I just had to salute such a horse with a post: Well done, Afleet Alex, proud warrior, noble soul!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Religion mugged by consumerism

There's lotsa wisdom over at Patrick O'Hannigan's Paragraph Land -- enough to make a person wise in faith and life, if heeded. But this post was just too good to pass up. I had to bring it over here.

O'Hannigan references an incisive quote from Giles Fraser, who lectures in philosophy at Wadham College, Oxford. Fraser highlights the manner in which the Western world has sold out true spirituality.

Yes, spirituality is religion that has been mugged by capitalism.

Of course, spirituality has been around for a very long time. With all its beads and symbols, ancient wisdom is part of the appeal to the spirituality shopper. Except what they take to be spirituality is a distinctly 20th century invention. As Professor Denys Turner rightly pointed out: "No mystics (at least before the present century) believed in or practised mysticism. They believed in and practised Christianity (or Judaism or Islam or Hinduism), that is religions that contained mystical elements as parts of a wider whole."

...The idea that spirituality represents some innate human aspiration to the ultimate is a piece of modern candyfloss that neatly accords with the desire to participate in religion without any of the demands it makes upon you. It's religion transformed into esoteric self-help for those "with something missing" -- could it be a Porsche, could it be a new man, could it be God? For the Christians of the early church, spirituality -- not that they would have called it that -- was about the death of the old person and the emergence of a new identity modelled on that of Christ. It's not something that one can dip into or an intriguing and unusual fashion accessory for the person who has nearly everything.

Wow. Lord have mercy upon me. To borrow from the prophet Isaiah: 'I am a man of unclean lips living among people of unclean lips...'

We've made spirituality marketable, proud and loud -- a nice accesory to a self-centered life.

But real faith goes begging, to the silent and undeveloped corners of our world, where people still pray for daily bread...and yet feed on the Bread of Heaven.

God have mercy upon your people. Spare your self-addicted American people, Lord!

For your Name's sake,


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Thou didst leave thy throne


Words: Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliott, 1864
Tune: Margaret

Thou didst leave thy throne and thy kingly crown,
when thou camest to earth for me;
but in Bethlehem's home was there found no room
for thy holy nativity.

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
there is room in my heart for thee.

Heaven's arches rang when the angels sang,
proclaiming thy royal degree;
but of lowly birth didst thou come to earth,
and in great humility.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
there is room in my heart for thee.

The foxes found rest, and the birds their nest
in the shade of the forest tree;
but thy couch was the sod, O thou Son of God,
in the deserts of Galilee.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
there is room in my heart for thee.

Thou camest, O Lord, with the living word
that should set thy children free;
but with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn,
they bore thee to Calvary.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
there is room in my heart for thee.

When the heavens shall ring, and the angels sing,
at thy coming to victory,
let thy voice call me home, saying "Yet there is room,
there is room at my side for thee!"

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,

there is room in my heart for thee.