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Showing posts from October, 2020

Open Hymnals Part 7

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  We wrap up and wind down another week.  There is much more we could continue to explore around our hymnal as a prayer book, theological textbook, and story it seeks to tell us.  But it is good to take a breath and hold lightly where we have been this week. Over the few posts, we built upon truths that we can pray our hymns.  We have leaned in, listened to what hymns are telling us about God.  And we begun to look at how our hymnal is telling a narrative.  What is one truth you learned this week?  Something new or something that you knew but have reclaimed? How was praying one hymn every day?  What did that do?  Did you find yourself saying the hymn when stopped at a red light?  Or repeating it as a refrain to order your day?  Do you want to keep praying that hymn or choose another?  There are no “right” answers, just what your soul says, “Amen” to right now. What other creative ways can you engage your hymnal? You could randomly open the hymnal every day, read the hymn – slowly and p

Open Hymnals Part 6

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  This morning, I want us to slow down and savor one single verse of a hymn, “Be Still, My Soul”.  The verse goes: Be still, my soul: for God will undertake to guide in future days as in the past.  Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake; all now mysterious shall be clear at last.  Be still my soul: the waves and winds still know how Jesus’ power rule them long ago. Truth be told, this is not one of my favorite hymns.  Some of the verses challenge me and certainly don’t align with my theology/understanding of God.  I don’t always think I should ‘bear patiently the cross of grief or pain,’ as the first verse of this hymn says.  Sometimes I need to be angry or cry or just grumble about how 2020 has left us all feeling exhausted.  I need to get that out, because pain that isn’t processed gets passed along.  Yet, sometimes my grumbling, griping takes me down a negative cycle where nothing is right and everything is wrong.  I see only the obstacles, not the opportunities.  I hope you s

Open Hymnals Part 5

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  Our hymnals are prayer books and theological textbooks.  Our hymnals give us words to sing and teach/tell us truths that soak/saturate our soul every time we draw a breath to let the tune and text married together fall from our lips.   What is one hymn this week you could return to everyday as a prayer? Maybe initially you think of the classics ~ What a Friend We Have in Jesus or Sweet Hour of Prayer or I Need Thee Every Hour.  If you laid those three hymns side-by-side or sung them one-after-another, you would start to hear the theological threads that connect them.  Prayer is a rhythm, routine, where we take our ‘trials, temptations, troubles, to God”.  Where we do this every hour, especially now as the new cycle churns chaotically every time we turn on the television, radio, or refresh our newsfeed.  As Sweet Hour of Prayer preaches, proclaims, “In seasons of distress and grief, (I am looking at you, Year of 2020!) my soul has often found relief and oft escaped the tempter’s snare

Open Hymnals Part 4

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  Only the Spirit’s power can fit us for this hour: come, Holy Spirit, come! Unite, instruct, inspire and fill us with your fire: come, Holy Spirit, come!   Let Every Christian Pray by Fred Pratt Green (#261 New Century Hymnal) I pray this rhythm of leaning into and listening to hymns is meaningful and making a difference, especially because I am going to continue this series of Morning Meditations next week. I hope you just said, “Yay!!” Two simple thoughts to wind down and wrap up this week. First, I love that the above hymn speaks of the Spirit as uniting, instructing, inspiring and filling. Notice that those are verbs. The Holy is not a noun, but an activity in our lives. The sacred is not something we can control, but seeks to conspire, collaborate in holy ways with us. When I say that hymns teach and tell us about God, it is verses like this that shine a light on this truth. If we ask, “What is God up to?” God is uniting, instructing, inspiring, and filling us in life-giving

Open Hymnals Part 3

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  Praise to the living God, around, within, above, Beyond the grasp of human mind, but whom we know as love. In these tumultuous days, so full of hope and strife, May we bear witness to the Way, O source and Goal of life. "Praise to the Living God" by Curtis Beach, (#8 New Century Hymnal). If, our hymnals are both prayer books that provoke and invoke the spirit; if our hymnals are theological textbooks that engage our minds/hearts/souls, the words of hymns can cause questions to stir within us. Who is God in this verse above? Where is God? What imagines and ideas of the holy are awoken in reading these words? Go back. Read them again. Slowly this time. What does a word like, “Praise” awaken within you? How can God be around and within and above? It doesn’t make rational or reasonable sense, does it? Yet, somehow, I know those words to be true and trustworthy. How does that tension of naming that ‘these [are] tumultuous days, so full of hope and strife,” challe

Open Hymnal Part 2

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  Great, living God, never fully known, joyful darkness far beyond our seeing, closer yet than breathing, everlasting home; Hail and Hosanna, great living God!   Brian Wren, “Bring Many Names,” (#11 New Century Hymnal) Our hymnals are not only prayer books, they are theological textbooks . Make a list of the hymns you love. Go ahead. I’ll wait! Now, try to make a list of sermons you remember and love. My hunch is one list is a lot longer than the other! My grandmother didn’t quote sermons when she was baking bread, she hummed hymns. And given this reality, we take the next logical, linear step which is to say that when we are singing, we are learning about who God is, why Jesus came, and the calling of the church. Hymns teach and tell us a lot about faith and prayer and life. Every hymnal I have ever held in my hands has organizing structure. Maybe it is the liturgical year, where the hymnal starts with Advent to Christmas to Epiphany to Lent to Easter. Or maybe the hymnal

Open Hymnals Part 1

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  Sing Lustily – and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half-dead or half-asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. [And] Sing spiritually – have an eye to God in every word you sing.   Two of the seven directions for singing from John Wesley. Music is one of the most powerful and profound ways to communicate.   Music has a way of evoking emotions and invoking the holy in ways that spoken words cannot.   Music is woven into our memories and helps us make meaning of life.   Music lingers and leaves an impression upon us.   I may not remember much about my ordination day 19 years ago, but I do recall we sang one of my favorite hymns, “Won’t you let me be your servant?”   Or I have a vivid memory of planning my mom’s memorial service and talking about how we had to sing a Christmas Carol because that was my mother’s favorite holiday.   We know that one of the harshest and hardest realities of the pandemic is that we are not able to sing together.   I do believe, d