Morning by Morning

"The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward." Isaiah 50:4-5

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Blesséd Art Thou!

Blesséd art Thou Lord God of the silences
When all the world lies hushed and the heart is still,
When the weary soul has given up its will
And the busy mind has lowered its defenses.

Blesséd art Thou Lord God of the dewlapp’d morning
When the lark trills his joy to the golden sun
That leaps exultant his daily course to run
While the meadows and the trees break forth singing.

Blesséd art Thou Lord God of each breaking day
When your whispering voice thunders forth your love
To all who are open to your descending Dove,
Who recognize your voice and gladly pray.

Blesséd art Thou Lord God my heavenly King
As the world awakes, to Thee with joy I sing.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

One Nation Under God

Childe Hassam: American Flags

Where I grew up the red, white, and blue was the Union Jack, and Victoria Day was the big celebration.  We are a nation of immigrants.  There are no truly “Native” Americans.  Even the Native Americans migrated across a land bridge from Eurasia.

Among the Navajo there is a sensibility that the land was here long before human beings.  Humankind does not own the land; we merely live on it.
All of us immigrants have arrived in waves from other places.  It should be noted that even those who theoretically hate the United States are lined up, waiting to get in?  Why?  This is the land of opportunity.

There is a popular theory that America is a “Melting Pot.”  That just isn’t true.  Every group that arrives on our shores clings to its old culture, language, traditions, and in many cases its religion.  For those who learn English assimilation into the diverse culture of America is easier than for others.  For those who don’t, or won’t learn the language of the land, the door to opportunity is narrowed.

We who are consciously Christian have also, by necessity, a partial assimilation into American culture.  Do you really want the morality and ethics of our media to be the dominant influence in the formation of your identity as an American?  The great cry of the children of Israel was, “that we may be like all the other nations.”[i]  That is the way of absorption and loss of identity, not the way to a transformation that will inform and transform the culture itself.

We are the salt of the earth, and we must not lose our savor.  For America to survive the salt of Christianity must be added to the mix.  There are those who militantly oppose this, claiming the impossible necessity of the separation of Church and State.  What they actually desire is that Humanism be not only the official language of the nation, but that it be the only religious language of the people.

What is troublesome to the humanist is that Christians have a higher loyalty than loyalty to the human heart. The humanist cry is “Follow your heart!”  The Christian knows that “the human heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it.”[ii]  Certainly not the humanist; that is like a mental patient giving a self-diagnosis and claiming that he is perfectly alright because the voices he keeps hearing are telling him that he is.

For the health of America there is a proper order, and it starts with “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”  That is the magnetic opportunity that has drawn all of us from sundry lands as immigrants.  Given that magnetic opportunity we are free to enjoy Italian pizza along with German beer, and finish it off with Texas Blue Bell ice cream, and rejoice in both our unity and our diversity.  Our liberties, our opportunities, and our joys are all protected by being “one nation under God.”

[i] I Samuel 8:20
[ii] Jeremiah 17:9

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Dappled Shade

            There is a place in the dappled shade beneath the spreading elm where my true love and I sit on a summer morn.  A breeze blows through and the birds sing sweet, and the dogs sleep quietly at our feet.  In the dappled shade we sit and pray.  In the dappled shade we sit and talk.  Between us on the table are the remnants of breakfast, or perhaps of lunch.  It is a private place, a family place, a place of sunshine and of dappled shade.

The prophet Micah says, “They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.  For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever.” [i]

It is under the fig tree in the dappled shade that Jesus found Nathaniel, “Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." [ii]  It is under the spreading elm in the dappled shade that we are seen by God and known by him, and it is in the dappled shade that we see Him, and in His light we see all that He has made.

One of the tragedies of our modern life is that so few people take time to sit with each other and talk and pray in the dappled shade.

But I hear a voice that says, “I have no dappled shade.”  

It is a matter of looking, and it is a matter of desire.  The tree was there and the breeze was there but we looked with eager eyes, and we saw and named the dappled shade; and we brought our chairs, and we brought our little table.  We brought our breakfast tray and we brought our bibles and our books. 

But most important we brought ourselves to sit and pray and share together.  After all the dappled shade is not an accident, it is a decision and it is our decision to find a quiet place, that brought us to the dappled shade.

[i] Micah 4:4-5 
[ii] John 1:48  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Marjorie So Long Ago

           We see the past through colored lenses, to each of us our own color of lenses.  Some are dark and some are rosy, but mine are the color of a little child’s eyes remembering the past.

            My grandmother Marjorie passes by with a watering can in her hand and two ducks trailing behind her.  White ducks, adventuresome ducks, pugnacious guard ducks trailing behind Marjorie who is the ducks’ mother and my grandmother.

            She passes by with her watering can in her hand, an old fashioned tin watering can with a long neck and a flared spout with little holes for sprinkling.  A little water here, a little water there, she moves along.  Here she carefully pinches off a dead leaf, and there she gently tamps a little plant more firmly in the pot.

            Grandmother Marjorie is a nurturing woman moving among her sons and daughters, among her grandchildren; watering with a little kindness here, and pinching off a bad behavior there.  She is a Christian woman, not just a church person.  She reads her bible and she lives her faith, and she dresses me and takes me to church even though grandfather will not go.

            Grandfather is a forbidding man; I almost want to spell grandfather with a capital “G”.  He’s that kind of man.  He is disappointed with God’s performance in the crash of ’29, so he won’t go to church.  But grandmother is faithful and she lives her faith even though grandfather will not go.  She took her sons and daughters to church, and now she takes me.

            We sit beside each other in the pew with a little brass plaque marked with our family name.   She smiles and pops a butterscotch lifesaver in my mouth to keep me from chattering.  Five year olds love to chatter, and she says, “Sit on your hands, Robin” to keep me from fidgeting, and she hugs me and takes me home for lunch.

            She is a Christian woman and she lives her faith.