Wednesday, November 30, 2011

COME!

Although it is not frequently sung, one of my favorite Christmas carols is "Come, Thou Long-expected Jesus" by Charles Wesley.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne. 
The very first word always catches my attention - COME! The song is a reminder of the longing for a Messiah during a dark time and all that He would/did bring: hope, joy, strength, consolation, deliverance, rule, glory...presence. Revelation ends with a similar statement about His future 2nd advent. "He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" Rev. 22:20
It is often the silent cry of my own heart: "Come!"  "Come into my work."  "Come into the lives of my kids."  "Come into my crazy schedule."  "Come into my finances....." YET ... His gentle answer is "I have come." He was called Immanuel - God with us. This was both descriptive of Jesus as He walked on the earth but also of His ongoing, very real presence among us as believers through the Holy Spirit. "I will never leave you." I don't need to ask Him to come into my schedule, work, children ... He is already there! What I need to be doing is looking, paying attention, joining, listening, obeying, worshiping.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanks

Martin Rinckart wrote the hymn "Nun danket alle Gott" in 1636 as a poem to his children. Rinckart (1586-1649) began pastoring in the town of Eilenburg in Saxony at the age of 31. The 30 years war had just begun and he died just as peace came. During his ministry the town was frequently plundered and suffered greatly at the hands of enemy soldiers. In 1637 the plague broke out in his city taking with it close to 8000 people. Rinckart conducted the funeral services for 4000 people including his wife. Severe famine followed the plague that left people fighting in the streets over dead animals. Rinckart freely shared all he had as he worked to provide care and food to his congregation despite the fact that it left him impoverished.

The Scriptures call us to GIVE THANKS. I find it easy to say thank you but not so easy to have a genuinely thankful heart. Martin Rinckart - in the midst of the worst that life can bring - overflowed with a thankful heart. His poem for his children was later translated and many of us sing it at this time of year.

Now Thank We All Our God

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and bless├Ęd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore