Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Just like Isaiah

Last Sunday, before the preacher took to the pulpit, we sung the aptly titled and well-loved song/prayer by Keith Getty "Speak, O Lord"

The final verse of this song, closes with these words

Speak, O Lord, till Your church is built
And the earth is filled with Your glory.

Isn't that such a wonderful and hope-filled prayer?

Think about it... If we are to take these words at face value, we are asking the Lord of the harvest to keep building His Church, as the gospel is preached, until the whole earth is filled with multitudes upon multitudes turned to Christ in faith and creation ordered in a manner befitting our Lord, our Rock, our Redeemer. Stirring stuff!

I don't know if this is what Keith Getty intended but if it is, Prophet Isaiah would agree.

Monday, 29 March 2010

We're not nomophobes (part 2)

This afternoon, a few of us at work we were pondering what verse would best function as a motto text for someone who worked as a debt collector. The verse that came to mind was Romans 13:8

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another

What I'd not noticed before was how the verse ends

for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.

Has it ever occurred to you how the NT is really concerned about the Law? I mean just take a look again at the verse above... Paul is basically saying that to heed the 2nd highest commandment (loving your neighbour as yourself) = fulfilling the law. In other words, the Christian's ambition - at one level - is to fulfill the law (a point that the Apostle Paul spells out in the rest of the chapter)

I don't know why, but this talk of fulfilling the law fills me with some unease and yet it is also intriguing. I think I'm filled with unease because I've been taught to treat "nomos" as something of the past - a thing that was put into retirement with the coming of Christ. But recently I've found myself more and more perplexed as I've sought to comprehend how this view fits with verses such as Romans 13:8 mentioned above. Even more haunting, are Jesus' sobering words in Matthew 5:17-20.

As I've tried to grapple with my quiet unease and growing intrigue, the following three questions have offered some glimmering light on the seemingly dark path before me

1. Who gave the Law and what was His intent in doing so?

2. Has the Law been repealed and if it has then when, and by whom?

3. If the Law truly has been repealed, and now functions in a manner similar to a museum exhibit, what exactly is the curator's (the Church's) role and what should we say to the inquiring world as it goes round admiring the display?

Any answers?

This weekend, I decided to put St Matthew on hold as I ponder a rather intriguing comment he makes in Chapter 11. I don't know how to square what verse 27 of this chapter says and what Jesus utters in Chapter 24 verse 36.

Do any of you have any ideas? I'd be glad to hear them...

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Quote of the week

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.

Overheard on BBC's radio 4, Quote Unquote

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Looking back to move on up

The level of written and spoken English in the UK leaves much to be desired. I vividly remember noticing this when I arrived at University because I - a foreigner - thought then, that everyone on this shores spoke Queen's English. So it was with some shock that I heard people say things like

"Are yous looking at us?"


"Who been eating my cheese?"


"M & S's are having a big sale this week"

Recently with my foray into poetry (especially that of George Herbert) I've begun noticing that some of the great writers of old also spoke some funny English. Think of Herbert's great lines from his poem Collar

Me thoughts I heard one calling "Child!"
And I replied "My Lord".

Now before castigating Herbert and other ancient writers for their poor form, we need to remember that we are the recipients - down stream - of an excellent heritage that continually needs to be adorned and developed. The fact that our command of English is no better (and probably worse) than that spoken by the recent entrants to the great crowd of witnesses which surrounds us, should leave us with shame, bring us to repent and make us read some poetry.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Let Herbie introduce you

A few months ago I attended an excellent conference on Song of Songs. It was simply fabulous. Amongst other things, the speakers reminded me of the interconnectedness of Scripture as well as of the supremacy of our God, who in Song of Songs is revealed to be the greatest poet of all.

Now in a culture where poetry is mostly considered dull, overly complex or as an unnecessary form of communication, what hope is there of enjoying the best poem ever written/the all time best single (cf. Song of Songs 1:1)

I want to suggest that the best way for us to enjoy and savour the poetry abundant in Scripture, is by simply reading poetry. Any poetry. Milton, Keats, Shakespeare, Solomon, King David, Hopkins. Whoever - just read some poetry.

Now of course make sure you indulge and be fed wonderfully as you meditate on Scripture's poetry but as you seek to grow in understanding how poetry works, what makes a good poem, how words could carry multiple meanings etc just read some poetry.

Which leads me nicely to introduce George Herbert. Herbie as I'd like to refer to him lived in the late 16th, early 17th century and wrote poetry that was admired by no less than Richard Baxter. To get a taste of this great poet and to begin perhaps a journey of loving poetry and understanding books like Song of Songs better, why not slowly read Herbie's great poem, Aaron below

HOLINESS on the head,
Light and perfection on the breast,
Harmonious bells below raising the dead
To lead them unto life and rest.
Thus are true Aarons drest.

Profaneness in my head,
Defects and darkness in my breast,
A noise of passions ringing me for dead
Unto a place where is no rest :
Poor priest ! thus am I drest.

Only another head
I have another heart and breast,
Another music, making live, not dead,
Without whom I could have no rest :
In Him I am well drest.

Christ is my only head,
My alone only heart and breast,
My only music, striking me e'en dead ;
That to the old man I may rest,
And be in Him new drest.

So holy in my Head,
Perfect and light in my dear Breast,
My doctrine tuned by Christ (who is not dead,
But lives in me while I do rest),
Come, people ; Aaron's drest.