This Day is Your Gift to Us

Hand of God and Adam, Michelangelo

This day is your gift to us;
    we take it, Lord, from your hand
    and thank you for the wonder of it.

God be with us in this your day,
    every day and every way,
God be with us and for us in this your day;
    and the love and affection of heaven be toward us.

We place into your hands, Lord, the choices we face:
  All that I am, Lord, I place into your hands.
  All that I do, Lord, I place into your hands.
  Everything I work for, I place into your hands.
  Everything I hope for, I place into your hands.
  The troubles that weary me, I place into your hands.
  The thoughts that disturb me, I place into your hands.
  Each that I pray for, I place into your hands.
  Each that I care for, I place into your hands.

We place into your hands, Lord, the choices we face.
Guard us from choosing the way perilous,
    of which the end is heart-pain and the secret tear.

Rich in counsel, show us the way that is plain and safe.
May we feel your presence at the heart of our desires,
    and so know them for your desires for us.

Thus shall we prosper,
    thus see that our purpose is from you,
    thus have power to do the good which endures.

In the name of Christ we pray, Amen.

Associated with St Oswald of Worcester (d.992) (revised & abridged)


Sourced from Regent College Chapel of June 23, 2020

Posted in Prayers | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Corrupted into Song

Corrupted into Song

By Alvin Feinman

As though all things shone perfectly, 
    Perfected in self-discrepancy:
    The widow wedded to her grief,
    The hangman haloed in remorse—
    I should not rearrange a leaf,

   No more than wish to lighten stones
   Or still the sea where it still roars—
   Here every grief requires its grief,
   Here every longing thing is lit
   Like darkness at an altar.

   As long as truest night is long,
   Let no discordant wing
   Corrupt these sorrows into song.

——————————————————-

“Here every grief requires its grief” is an invitation to sit with sorrow rather than be too quick to, as Feinman puts it, “corrupt it into song.” We live in an artistic era where singer/songwriters may be too quick to turn their tragedy into art, when they would be better off letting their sorrow inform a longer and healthier journey through grief.

I suggest there is difference in substance between the haunting lyrics of Leonard Cohen for example – and those written in the turn-it-into-cash heartaches-for-money songs by many “pop” artists. So many modern pop songs will be forgotten before the next album for they were sorrows corrupted into song well before their time to mature into art.

For all the pop art that the machinery churns out, not much appears to have an enduring quality that informs and enlightens our humanity – or our spiritual journey.

———————————————————

Shane McCrae, Poetry Editor with Imagejournal.org writes:

Corrupted into Song collects all of Feinman’s poems, but the best are almost all to be found in his first book, Preambles and Other Poems, originally published in 1964 and reprinted in Corrupted into Song as revised as expanded by Feinman around 1990. His poems sound like no others, though there is a bit of Hart Crane’s lyric density in them. They are manifestly artifacts of serious thinking. They lead the reader’s mind and sometimes bewilder it.”

These are the final stanzas of “True Night,” from which Corrupted into Song takes its title.

Posted in Current Events | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Sometimes I Cry

Sometimes I Cry

Chris Stapleton

There are days that I can walk around like I’m alright
And I pretend to wear a smile on my face
And I could keep the pain from comin’ out of my eyes
But sometimes, sometimes,
Sometimes I cry
Cry
Sometimes I cry
When I can’t do nothing else
Everybody keeps tellin’ me to move on
Oh but I can’t seem to go anywhere without you
‘Cause ever since, and every single night you been gone
Sometimes, sometimes
Sometimes I cry
Cry
Sometimes I cry
When I can’t do nothing else
Sometimes I cry
Sometimes I cry
Sometimes I cry
When I can’t do nothing else

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Christopher Stapleton / Clint Dwayne Ingersoll

Sometimes I Cry lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Spirit Music Group, Warner Chappell Music Inc


Sometimes I cry. Enough said?

Posted in Poems | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Sing Because…

Image of gospel album cover found on udiscovermusic.com

For those for whom worship of the Living God is woven into the fabric of life, one of the sad laments during this time of social distancing has been the loss of communal worship – the singing of praise to the One who’s own Spirit wells inside all true believers to magnify His name.

Thus when Ken Chitwood reported that Germany would continue to restrict churches from congregational singing, it caused reflection on the place of worship in our lives.

“Questions about singing, more than anything else, has caused consternation among evangelicals in Germany. Perhaps this comes as no surprise. It was the German reformer Martin Luther, after all, who said:

“Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise.”

However, Lothar Wieler, the head of Germany’s top health research organization—the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)—strongly advised against communal singing of any kind while there are still fears about the spread of the coronavirus. Wieler explained in the official biweekly COVID-19 press conference that “evidence shows that during singing, the virus drops appear to fly particularly far.”

Indeed, experts warn that singing is a “super-spreader.” A 2019 report published in the scientific journal Nature said that particle emission is correlated with the amplitude of vocalization—or loudness—so singing releases more particles than other types of speech or breathing. It even spreads the virus more than coughing! (emphasis added).

Some Christians found the new restriction depressing. Philipp Busch, a pastor in a small town in the northernmost district of Germany, isn’t sure it is worth starting worship again with such constraints in place. “Worship with a mask is bad for breathing,” he said, “and without singing [it] is pointless anyway.”

For more read No Joyful Noise as German Churches Reopen without Singing.


One song that speaks to the unstoppable force of worship is the old hymn “His Eye is on the Sparrow”.  It found a new audience due to Lauren Hill and Tanya Blount singing it in Sister Act 2 (December 1993).  Written in 1906 by Civilla D. Martin (Jordan Falls, Nova Scotia, August 21, 1866–March 9, 1948, Atlanta, Georgia), it was set to music by Charles H. Gabriel.

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

      • Refrain:
        I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
        For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.


Why do you sing? Who do you worship?

… Be filled with the Spirit,  speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:18b – 20

Posted in Poems, Prayers, Proverbs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beautiful Disaster

What if we marinated our woes in love, patience, and empathy?

Baked it at 370 degrees of vulnerability and accountability?

What a beautiful disaster when fear is no longer the main course or ingredient of our recipes.

Source: itsamavee


Back in early February Ama Vee wrote this on instagram:

“Personal thought of the day. I’ve been fortunate to engage in many conversations around vulnerability. What echoes the most out of these conversations is: FEAR. Fear is the buffer between what we can and cannot create. A natural defence mechanism. Fear is what stands between the knowing and unknown. Once we get over it, we realize that things around us are still moving- so wtf were we standing still in the first place?!
Vulnerability is that landing pad-yes it’s a safe space! Get acquainted. Find your balance. Be brave. Steady pace🍿🍍
What’s your recipe?”


What is your recipe? It’s a good question, and the pandemic has been a good time to trade recipes for all sorts of good eating.

What makes your life work?

What are the best ingredients of your life?

What ingredients will you stop using?

Posted in Poems | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exercising Hope

Image by Steve Snodgrass on Patheos.com

“It’s in times of difficulty that we often become most aware of hope. We become acutely aware that we’re short on hope or we seek it. Or we become particularly aware of the precious sources of hope in our life.”

Denise Larson, Hope Studies Central

“It can be comforting to remember,” writes Stephanie Bailey, “that hope is something we can practise and get better at. For those of us looking to cultivate more of it in our lives, here are some tactics, developed by Hope Studies Central and backed by decades of their research in classrooms, hospitals and communities”:

Begin to notice where hope is in your life: Be alert to your feelings of hope and, conversely, times when your hopeful attitude is threatened. The tiniest thing can spark hope: walking into a family member’s kitchen, the smell of cookies baking, a kind word. When we make a conscious decision to orient ourselves towards hope, we find more of it.

Challenge yourself to find hope in your day: Make it a mission to find things that represent hope for you every day. Or enjoy a “hope walk,” where you take photos of 10 objects that symbolize hope for you. With practice, you’ll become better at remembering to focus on hope.

Find stories of hope from your past: Look at photos and identify the ones that give you hope. Tell the stories that go with them. Finding evidence of hope in our past reminds us it’s possible in the future.

Get creative and share hope: Why not write an inspirational message on the sidewalk or post a hopeful note in your window? Find creative ways you can spread hope in your community.

Keep reminders of hope nearby: For example, what image is on your screen saver? What does it symbolize for you? What image might you choose? Or try your hand at making a collage, in which you compile images that symbolize hope.

Identify a personal strength: Then tell a story to a supportive friend about how you know that you have this particular strength. This exercise reminds you that you are equipped to deal with the struggles you face.

Reframe your thinking: Think about what’s most important to you today. Acknowledge the difficulties you face, and consider the future in ways that highlight your strengths and the possibilities in your situation.

Identify your hope heroes: Who symbolizes hope for you? What makes you consider them that way? What have you learned from them?

Surround yourself with hope: Choose to spend time with people who lift you up and help you see your strengths and abilities.

Break the silence: If you’re feeling hopeless or uncertain, tell someone. Choose someone who will listen well and who believes in you.

For more check out Denise Larsen’s On Demand webinar “Finding Hope in Bad Times and Good” and the Hope Studies Central website

Article above is taken from New Trail article written by Stephanie Bailey.


What have you learned about practicing hope?

Practicing hope for me is the exercise what James Houston calls “psalmic therapy”.  The Psalmists are expert hope practitioners for they explore the depth of sorrow and the substance of a hope that stabilizes and enlivens them.  Thus the Psalmist sings:

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Saviour and my God.

Posted in Proverbs | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sabbath as Resistance

In Ken Shigematsu’s book, “Survival Guide for the Soul: How to Flourish Spiritually in a a World that Pressures Us to Achieve,” he writes a chapter titled, “Sabbath: The Rhythm of Resistance.”

It’s a strange way to talk about sabbath, but Shigematsu is informed by Walter Brueggemann:

“Sabbath is resistance… It is resistance because it is a visible insistence that our lives are not defined by production and commodity goods.”

Sabbath is resistance to the ways the world would squeeze us into its mould; it is resistance to the values that vault themselves over God; it is resistance to our pre-occupation with ourselves; Sabbath resists the inclination to trust what we do in a world ruled by God.

I suspect we take for granted the fact that “sabbath” is in our vocabulary, but as Thomas Cahill noted, until the Fourth Commandment was uttered (“Keep the Sabbath Holy unto the Lord”), no civilization had ever given ordinary, working people a regular day off. Shigematsu says:

“The gift of Sabbath was truly a unique and unprecedented gift, reminding the ancient Hebrews that they were no longer slaves of Pharaoh. Nor were their lives any longer defined by making bricks. The gift of Sabbath forms a new identity within us as well, reminding us that we are not slaves either.”

According to the Creation Story in Genesis 1, God rested on the seventh day – which means the day after He created man, the first human experience was to enter into the rest of the Creator God. We began our existence in rest.

Paradoxically, this is work; it takes preparation. C.S. Lewis obsessed that busyness for most of us is a form of sloth because we haven’t planned well enough in order to embrace rest.  Shigematsu tells us, “practically, in order to enter into Sabbath, we will need to decide in advance what we will do as well as what we will not do.”

We begin and continue to understand true rest as we understand the One who made us for Himself:

“There remains a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest…”  Hebrews 4:9 – 11

May we find our sabbath-rest in Christ.


For a free download of Ken’s book, go to “Survival Guide for the Soul.”

Posted in Proverbs | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments